The Cars

Essential Albums

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About The Cars

The Cars were the perfect bridge between guitar-forward ’70s rock bands and keyboard-driven ’80s pop stars. Led by co-vocalists Ric Ocasek and Ben Orr, the quintet favored sharp power pop (“Just What I Needed”), moody synth sculptures (“Moving In Stereo”), and the occasional wistful ballad (“Drive”). Ocasek and Orr met as teenagers in the ’60s while both were living in Cleveland, OH. The duo played together in multiple bands before landing in Boston and forming The Cars in 1976 with guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes, and ex-Modern Lovers drummer David Robinson. Their first two albums, a 1978 self-titled LP and 1979’s Candy-O, established the band as cutting-edge rockers. After detours into more experimental sounds (the Suicide-inspired 1980 LP Panorama), they became the toast of ’80s pop (and video) with hits such as “Magic” and “You Might Think” before disbanding in 1988. Ocasek went on to become a successful producer, helming Weezer’s 1994 debut. The Cars eventually regrouped without Orr, who passed away in 2000 from pancreatic cancer, for 2011’s well-received Move Like This and a stirring live performance at the band's 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. And although Ocasek’s 2019 death likely quashed future activity, the diverse artists that subsequently paid tribute to his memory—to name a few, The Killers, Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Letters to Cleo’s Kay Hanley—illustrate that The Cars’ legacy as connectors is secure.

Boston, MA, United States

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