? and the Mysterians (as rendered on the label) was perhaps the first band to be described as "punk rock"- while also the first Latino rock group to have a general audience hit in the US. The name came from a 1957 Japanese science fiction film The Mysterians, in which aliens from the destroyed planet Mysteroid arrive to conquer Earth.
And the band's eccentricities don't end there: frontman and primary songwriter "Question Mark" -going simply as "?"- has long claimed to be a Martian who lived with dinosaurs in a past life... and like ZZ Top, never appears in public without sunglasses.
? often speaks of traveling into the future and visiting other planets, asserting that he has done so. No witnesses are known to have corroborated Mr Mark's dubious claims...
But he did write the song that became the band's first and biggest hit -96 Tears- with essential riffs and styling being contributed by The Mysterians. It began as a poem that bore the working title Too Many Teardrops- written in 1958, four years before the band was even formed.
With its plaintive chorus and catchy Vox organ riff, 96 Tears was originally recorded on March 13, 1966 in Bay City, Michigan as a single for local Pa-Go-Go Records, owned by the group's manager, Lillian Gonzales. The song was recorded on the porch of a private home, but it quickly became a regional hit in the Flint and Detroit areas.
It was originally intended that the song Midnight Hour would be the group's single... with 96 Tears just as the B-side. But at the insistence of ?, 96 Tears was made the A-side. He then personally went to radio stations to promote the song and get his single played, and 96 Tears quickly became a local hit. Subsequently, with the Cameo-Parkway Records release the song became a national #1 hit... lifelong favorite of mine, too-
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