The Cars' Backgrounds
The Cars' History
Frequently Asked Questions
Music & Video:
The Cars' Discography
(+ Info, Music Videos)
(+ Info, Music Videos)
Video & DVD Releases
Ben Orr Tribute
Cars Links (Official & Fan Sites)
Text ©1996, 2004-06 by Kim & Alan
This is a fan-made site; no copyright infringement intended; site contains no audio/video recordings or reprinted lyrics
Solo Projects (page 2)
As a solo artist, Benjamin Orr released only one album in 1986 entitled "The Lace" and became the last member of the Cars to put out his own solo work. Never really intending to write, Ben suddenly decided upon a solo album after learning of Elektra Records' enthusiasm about the project. This also led to Ben's co-production of the album as well as newly acquired skills that would help him in the Cars' next project. With songs all written by Ben and his then-fiancee, Diane Grey Page, the music featured on "The Lace" captured the romance of the couple's growing relationship.
The first song from "The Lace" was Ben's most famous solo song, the hit single "Stay the Night". Ben's seductive voice and poetic lyrics created a flowing, memorable rhythm which appeared on every song, including the next single, "Too Hot To Stop". Other songs on the album include "In Circles", "This Time Around", "Skyline" (this song was inspired by Boston's city skyline as it was viewed by Ben and Diane from their boat, the Blue Di, one winter's night), and the title track. Like "Stay the Night", all the songs have a distinctive mid-80's sound, but don't copy the sound of the Cars. Overall, "The Lace" is an opportunity to hear an entire album's worth of Ben as a lead vocalist, something that you just can't get enough of on a Cars album. Elliot Easton is also featured on the album playing guitar, but uncredited.
Aside from being a musician, Ben's other interests away from the spotlight included waterskiing, tennis, boating, golf, horseback riding, gourmet cooking, and hunting. During their marriage, he and Diane enjoyed experimenting with exotic foods, especially in Hawaii, and see it as an outlet for exchanging creative ideas.
In the late 1990s, Ben had been working with a new band, appropriately called ORR, and began touring in the Boston area. One of the members of ORR was well-known musician John Kalishes. ORR toured in several states across the country including New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Illinois. He performed new songs, as well as his classic solo works and even Cars songs in which he used to sing lead.
Benjamin Orr died on October 3, 2000, due to pancreatic cancer. Please read Heartbeat City's tribute to Ben. John Kalishes passed away in 2003.
In 1985, Elliot Easton released a solo album called "Change No Change" with one single and video "(Wearing Down) Like a Wheel", which is said to have a Cars-like
sound. It was a hit in Boston, even if nowhere else. With most songs cowritten by Elliot and Jules Shear, the sound actually seemed
to be more like classic 50's and 60's rock 'n roll. This album came out of the Elliot and Jules who were getting to know each other as they put it together. Not really intended to be an Elliot Easton solo release, Jules simply suggested that Elliot sing the songs they had written, and the rest is history. Songs like "Shayla", "Help Me", and "Wide Awake" really have that surf-era sound while other like "I Want You" and "The Hard Way" have a harder edge. What's most interesting about this album is obviously being able to hear Elliot's voice up front which seems to change from smooth (60's style) to scratchy (hard). Musically, Elliot treated his guitar playing the same way he did on the Cars' albums by using it to enhance each song, not overpower them. "The most predictable thing in the world to do is to wank on a guitar for days on end. It's like weight-lifting. I'm not impressed by it," as Elliot stated. Elliot's talent for guitar has was noted when his acoustic song, "Walk On Walden" appeared on the collective album "Guitars That Rule the World." "Change No Change" was re-released in late 1996 and includes some tracks from Elliot's 1993 "Band of Angels" (lead vocals by Danny Malone) album that was never released.
Although there was no competition between the Cars as a group, and Elliot as a solo artist, doing "Change No Change" was the refuge that Elliot needed in order to get away from the tensions that arose among the Cars during the production of "Heartbeat City." As he called it, "...a place I could go where I wasn't being judged, where I wasn't trying to achieve somebody else's visions."
Not only as a solo artist, but also as a member of the Cars who all shared the same opinion, Elliot had always had a strong thoughts on creativity in relation to the media, "How can you worry about pleasing people [critics] and what they're going to think? How can you do anything creative if the whole thing is motivated by trying to please somebody else? To me, the whole idea of what I thought art, or music, or anything creative was about pleasing yourself and hoping that whatever you're creating will reach
someone else who'll see it on that level. To worry about someone picking it apart and discussing it element for element, and trying to knock you down or weaken it in any way doesn't amount to anything but a waste of paper. . ."
Elliot has since moved to Los Angeles in 1993 where he heads the instrumental band, The Tiki Gods, who play a variety of music types including surf-rock. Several artists of all kinds have played with the band in concert. Elliot also regularly tours as a member of Creedence Clearwater Revisited.
Greg Hawkes made is solo debut in 1983 with an almost entirely instrumental album entitled "Niagara Falls." The songs, which were a collection of weird sound effects and other strange noises were like something out of Japanese science fiction films with titles like "Twenty-Seven Shirts" (with a video), "Llamas", "Ants In Your Pants", "Beep Beep", and the 12-inch single "Jet Lag/Modern Lunch/Backseat Waltz". Greg also played nearly every instrument on this album with the exception of "Voyage Into Space" on which his wife, Elaine plays the flute. The only vocals can be found in "Jet Lag" where we hear Greg announce "Jet Lag...it's a real drag!" The album cover featured a red and blue and blue and red computer-generated cityscape that Greg designed himself.
Greg also produced the musical scores for two films: a drama called "Anna" and a computer animation piece that was shown at the SIGGRAPH computer conference. Like Ric Ocasek, Greg Hawkes had always liked incorporating the latest technology into his work. Greg played the keyboards on all of Ric's solo albums and he is still in music today in the Boston area. He has since put together two CD's of synthesizer and sound effects, however, this is all the information available on them for now.
Although I've never heard about David Robinson doing any solo albums, he also continued in music in the Boston area. Although, I have heard that he is retired from music now. He was also the only member of the Cars that Ben Orr kept in touch with.