May 1978: The Cars Debut with "Just What I Needed"

BOSTON, MA- JUNE 1978: The Cars outside City Hall Plaza July 7, 1978 in Boston MA. David Robinson, Rick Ocasek, Greg Hawkes, Benjamin Orr, Elliot Easton (Photo by Ron Pownall/Getty Images)
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(Ron Pownall/Getty Images)

On May 29, 1978, a hot new band out of Boston released their very first single. That band was the Cars, and the song was "Just What I Needed."

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In one fell swoop, Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr and company rewrote the rock and roll songbook. Bringing together classic hooks, new wave sensibilities and pristine production tailor-made for maximum impact on the radio, "Just What I Needed" is the perfect representation of everything that made the Cars great.

The Cars' keyboardist Greg Hawkes recalled the moment he heard Ocasek's demo of the tune for the very first time during a 2000 interview: "I remember hearing 'Just What I Needed,' thinking ... 'Wow, that's pretty cool. It's got something sort of unique about it, its, like, nice and concise and ... fairly short pop song format' ... so I still remember hearing that for the first time."

While song made a respectable run on the charts, peaking at #27 on the Hot 100 for the week of September 116, 1978. The #1 song in America that week: A Taste of Honey's "Boogie-Oogie-Oogie."

It was on the radio where the song would really take hold, with "Just What I Needed" blowing up on stations across the country. The sparkling song set the stage for the arrival of the band's self-titled debut album in June 1978. The record played a large part of the summer 1978 soundtrack, and it still stands as a classic rock radio favorite today.

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