Cars’ 2018 Rock Hall Induction: Third Time’s the Charm

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Inductee Ric Ocasek of The Cars performs at the 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Auditorium on April 14, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; used with permission)

Third time was the charm. The Cars, who by Rock Hall bylaws were eligible for induction since 2003–25 years after their first commercial recording was released–finally got in on their third nomination. The rock band, which scored four Top 10 singles during its 1979 to 1985 heyday, celebrated its induction into the Rock Hall’s Class of 2018 with a tight set of three familiar songs.

In the days leading up to their moment in the spotlight, Best Classic Bands spoke to group members Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes. Hawkes, in fact, had professed a bit of uneasiness anticipating the band’s first performance since 2011. “I’ve got mixed emotions,” he said. I’ve got a certain amount of anxiety just because we haven’t played in a long time.”

The band was inducted on April 14, 2018, by the Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers who said, in part, “The Cars had it all: the looks, the hooks, Beat-romance lyrics, killer choruses, guitar solos that pissed off your parents, dazzling music videos.”

Watch the Killers cover “Just What I Needed” earlier that year in Boston

There was a huge absence felt that evening, as the band was without bass guitarist-vocalist Benjamin Orr, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.

During their induction speeches, Ric Ocasek said, “When the band first started, Ben was supposed to be the lead singer, and I was supposed to be the good-looking guy in the band,” as the audience roared. “But after a couple of gigs, I kind of got demoted to the songwriter.

“But obviously it’s hard not to notice that Benjamin Orr is not here. He would have been elated to be here on this stage, in his hometown. It feels quite stage to be without him, because we miss him and love him dearly.”

Watch the band’s induction speeches

As for which of their big hits to play at the event, the Cars’ Easton had said, “[The organizers] haven’t given us a directive, but I think it makes sense to play some familiar material.”

And so they did, joined by Weezer bassist Scott Shriner, subbing for Orr. Opening with 1984’s playful “You Might Think,” they continued with “My Best Friend’s Girl” and the more muscular “Moving in Stereo” from their 1978 self-titled debut, before ending with “Just What I Needed,” their first hit, also from The Cars.

Easton told us, “Ben leaves a big hole in the band, let’s face it; he had the greatest voice and when Ric [Ocasek] would be singing lead in a song, Ben really helped us sound better, besides his amazing lead vocals.”

Watch the official trailer of HBO’s broadcast of the Class of 2018 induction ceremony

As it turned out, it was the Rock Hall event proved to be the final performance the band did with Ocasek, who died the following year at age 75, on September 15, 2019.

The Cars’ recordings are available here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. Bobby D
    #1 Bobby D 6 May, 2018, 14:49

    They also performed “My Best Friend’s Girl,” which wasn’t mentioned in the article

    Reply this comment
  2. JCB
    #2 JCB 27 March, 2023, 08:07

    The R+R Hall made these guys wait 15 years for induction. In the meantime, Eminem got in on his first year of eligibility. Says all you need to know about that fraud of a hall.

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