I love rock music. And I love libraries. 

So, imagine my delight when I learned one of my high-school idol bands’ bass player has a connection to Geauga County. This revelation came at a July community conversation about the future construction of the new Thompson Branch. 

The Cars (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2018) were an inescapable part of the ‘80s new wave rock movement. Known for their hits “Just What I Needed,” “Moving in Stereo,” “Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Drive,” The Cars were fronted by Ric Ocasek, but it was northeast Ohio’s Benjamin Orr who provided much of the group’s lead vocal work along with his bass-line hooks.  

Born Benjamin Orzechowski in Lakewood, Ohio to parents who supported his musical endeavors, he attended Valley Forge High School and performed with the Cleveland band The Grasshoppers in the 1970s. Ocasek heard Orr in The Grasshoppers and eventually, the two met and struck up what would become a lifelong friendship.  

I can’t listen to The Cars without thinking of teenage summers, driving around town eating ice cream and cranking the radio up as loud as we could, hoping our parents wouldn’t be in the car next to us at a red light. (That actually happened to my sister and me on the Chardon Square).  

Now, I can’t listen to them without thinking of the new GCPL Thompson Branch, where I learned about Orr’s connection to Geauga County. Sadly, Orr passed away Oct. 3, 2000 at age 53 in Atlanta, Georgia after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He’s buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery on Rt. 528. 

The rockers in the Marketing and Facilities Departments made a lunch-hour field trip July 31, 2018 to Orr’s final resting place. Coincidentally, it happened to be the birthday of GCPL’s Webmaster Mike Kehoe. We  delivered a few tokens of our appreciation to Mr. Orr. We also sang “Happy Birthday” to Mike, a little self-conscious of who we were singing in front of.  

If it weren’t for the community conversation about Thompson’s new library, I would never have known this uber-cool tidbit of Geauga trivia. Let the good times roll.

Just what I needed. 

Listen to The Cars on hoopla. Fans of The Cars will want to check out the documentary Unlocked The Live Performances

Lori is currently listening to Back to the River by Susan Tedeschi.  


Members of the Marketing and Facilities Departments at GCPL pay their respects to Benjamin Orr, bass player of The Cars (1947 – 2000).