? & the Mysterians

96 Tears

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America in the mid-'60s was a truly grand time and place to be alive; where else could five greasy-looking teenagers who sounded like they were still learning their instruments cut a record in someone's living room and not only see it win nationwide release, but hit number one on the Billboard singles charts? Rock & roll doesn't come much more gloriously dumb than "96 Tears"; over a two-finger Farfisa organ riff from one Frankie Rodriguez Jr., Question Mark (aka Rudy Martinez) wails in a combination of sorrow and anger about the girl who has done him wrong, and announces his determination that he's going to hurt her as she hurt him, until he's cried 96 tears -- not 90, not 100, but exactly 96. It was weird as all get out, but it was also funny, and very catchy. In 1966, a time when every kid who could talk his parents into buying a Sears Silvertone guitar dreamed of someday being as big as the Beatles, it must have been a real inspiration to see five guys from Saginaw, MI, who weren't much farther along than they were achieve this impossible dream, if only for a moment. While Question Mark and the Mysterians cut a few more records (most of which sounded an awful lot like "96 Tears"), their days in the sun were numbered, though over 30 years later, the band was still at it, sounding just as inspired (and only a bit less inept) as they did during their 15 minutes of fame, and more than willing to crank out their hit for anyone who wanted to hear it.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
96 Tears 1966 Cameo
No Image 1979
Various Artists
MCA 3:01
No Image 1990
Various Artists
ROIR 0:00
Question Mark & the Mysterians 1997 Collectables 3:01
More Action 1999 Safe House / Cavestomp! Records 5:17
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Varèse Vintage 3:07
Feel It!: The Very Best of Question Mark & the Mysterians 2001 Varese 7:49
Cameo Parkway 1957-1967 2005
Various Artists
ABKCO Records 2:59
Cameo Parkway: The Greatest Hits 2006
Various Artists
ABKCO Records 2:57
Jon Savage Presents 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded 2015
Various Artists
Ace / Kent 2:57
Classic Love Songs of Rock 'N' Roll
Various Artists
Time Life 2:57