In a recording career that started in 1977 the Cars' output was a meagre six albums. Each one, however, sold over a million copies and reached high chart positions in the USA. Formerly known as Cap'n Swing, the stable line-up comprised Ric Ocasek (guitar/vocals), Benjamin Orr (bass/vocals), Greg Hawkes (keyboards), Elliot Easton (guitar) and David Robinson (drums). Their catchy pop/rock songs were hard to categorize and when they arrived with 'Just What I Needed', they were embraced by the new wave art-rock fraternity in the USA. They were an instant success in the UK, notching up a number of hits, and debuting with a Top 3 single, the irresistible 'My Best Friend's Girl'.
The Cars never deviated from writing catchy, well-crafted songs, each containing at least one memorable and instantly hummable riff, which enabled them to gain acceptance on the lucrative AOR market with singles such as 'Let's Go', 'Shake It Up', 'You Might Think', 'Magic' and 'Tonight She Comes'. In 1984 they enjoyed worldwide success with 'Drive,' and a year later the same song was opportunistically but tastefully used to pull at people's consciences during the Live Aid concert. A film accompanying the song, showing the appalling famine in Ethiopia, will forever remain in peoples' minds; as the lyric 'Who's gonna plug their ears when you scream' was played, it was replaced by a heart-rending scream from a small child. This memorable yet tragic segment left few dry eyes in the world, and predictably the song became a hit once more.
The band broke up at the start of 1988 in favour of solo work, and Ocasek became busy as a record producer, notably with Weezer in 1994. Elliot Easton produced Middlescence for Amy Rigby in 1998, and toured with Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Orr formed Big People, but in October 2000 succumbed to cancer of the pancreas. At the start of 2006, Easton and Hawkes announced they were teaming up with pop maverick Todd Rundgren, Kasim Sulton (bass) and Prairie Prince (drums; ex-Tubes) in the New Cars. They released It's Alive on Eleven Seven Records later in the year.
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