? and the Mysterians had their first great success as a band when their song, “96 Tears,” was recorded in March of 1966 at Art Schiell’s recording studio in Bay City, located in the back of his house. “96 Tears” was recorded on the back porch of Shiell’s studio and became the first mainstream hit for a Latino rock band in the United States, selling over a million copies upon its national release, certifying it gold. The song was first written as a poem back in 1962 by front man Rudy “Question Mark” Martinez, titled “Too Many Teardrops.” Rudy Martinez hailed from Flint, while the rest of the Mysterians originally hailed from Saginaw. Upon first organizing the band, Rudy’s brother Robert Martinez was the original drummer, and was replaced by Eddie Serrato when Robert was drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces. The lineup that you hear on “96 Tears” also includes Frank Rodriguez laying down the signature Vox organ riffs, who was only 14 years old at the time “96 Tears” was recorded.
Enjoy the rare clip below from Detroit’s “Swingin’ Time” back in 1966.