Writer: Ric Ocasek
Producer: Roy Thomas Baker
Recorded: Early 1978 in New York City
Released: May 29th, 1978 (single); June 6th, 1978 (album)
|Players:||Ric Ocasek — vocals, guitar
Benjamin Orr — vocals, bass
Elliot Easton — guitar, vocals
Greg Hawkes — keyboards, vocals
David Robinson — drums, backing vocals
|Album:||The Cars (MCA, 1974)|
The Cars formed in late 1976 in Boston. Singer-guitarist Ric Ocasek and singer-bassist Benjamin Orr had been playing together for several years. Drummer David Robinson came from the Modern Lovers.
Orr was formerly a member of the Upbeat TV show house band in Cleveland.
The first-ever Cars gig was a New Year’s Eve show at the Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
“Just What I Needed” was written in 1977, and a demo was recorded. It became the Number One top request at a couple of Boston radio stations.
Elektra and Arista were the two labels bidding most seriously for the Cars. Elektra won because the group was worried that Arista’s roster — which included Lou Reed, Patti Smith, and Iggy Pop — was too crowded with like-minded acts.
The first single from The Cars, “Just What I Needed” peaked at Number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It reached Number 17 in the U.K. in March 1979.
The Cars peaked at Number 18 on the Billboard 200 chart nearly 10 months after its release. It’s sold more than six million copies.
The group was nominated in the Best New Artist category at the 21st annual Grammy Awards in 1979, but they lost to A Taste Of Honey.
With two other hits — “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Good Times Roll” — the Cars were voted Best New Band Of The Year in the Rolling Stone magazine readers poll.
According to lead guitarist Elliot Easton, the Cars “used to joke that the first album should be called The Cars Greatest Hits. We knew that a lot of great bands fall through the cracks. But we were getting enough feedback from people we respect to know that we were on the right track.