Today in Texas History – October 29

From the Annals of Garage Bands –  In 1966, ? and the Mysterians hit No. 1 on the US charts with “96 Tears.”   The members of the band were living in Saginaw, Michigan but were originally from Texas.  Their parents had been migrant workers who settled in Michigan after finding auto industry jobs.  ? – the former Rudy Martinez, who legally changed his name to a punctuation mark and claims to be a space alien, has understandably managed to maintain an air of mystery ever since making a splash with “96 Tears” which essentially came out of nowhere to reach the top of the Billboard pop chart.

Critics regard “96 Tears” as the first garage-rock masterpiece and a “proto-punk” classic.  The Mysterians formed in 1962 when four Mexican-American teenagers in Saginaw began playing instrumental music inspired by the surf bands such as the Ventures and legendary guitarist Link Wray. Taking their name from a Japanese science fiction movie, the Mysterians soon made the acquaintance of their own alleged alien—a young man in sunglasses who approached them after a gig at Michigan’s Mt. Holly Ski Lodge offering to manage the group. Identifying himself to the Mysterians only as “?,” he soon became the group’s lead singer and primary songwriter. It was a poem of his called “Too Many Teardrops” that became “96 Tears.”

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2 thoughts on “Today in Texas History – October 29

  1. Susie Martin

    I am the Publicist for ? and the Mysterians. We really appreciate being remembered but we would more appreciate being represented factually. A number of things in your article are clearly copied from other misguided and incorrect items scattered about the internet. First and foremost, 96 Tears was NEVER a poem-Question Mark will tell you himself he does not write poems, he writes SONGS. The info regarding his name is incorrect, as is the part regarding him being “an alien”. The correct statement is that he has lived many lives and his soul was from the so-called planet Mars (translated that does NOT say he’s an alien….he would NEVER ever say that)…..I guess I should be happy there’s so much incorrect information out there about the band — job security!

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    1. Red from Texas Post author

      Susie, Thanks for the information re: ? and the Mysterians. Red likes to get things right – not always an easy task given – as you point out – the amount of misinformation floating around the internet. It’s hard to know who has the story right. Red usually checks several sources to make sure that “facts” are somewhat confirmed, but that failed here. Red will try to update the Today in Texas History post to reflect accurate information. Red still remembers his older sisters going crazy when 96 Tears came on the radio.

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