“96 Tears”

You, of course remember and likely loved the “cheesy” garage band classic “96 Tears” by  ? And the Mysterians in 1966.  But, did you know that the original title of the song ( written in 1962) was….”69 Tears” ? The bands manager convinced the band to “invert the numbers” and make the change, fearing radio stations wouldn’t play it with the double entendres of the title. ( listen closely to the lyric and you’ll realize how closely the original title reflects the lyrics…..yes they do.) Right or wrong, the song shot to number one, sold one million singles and a very mysterious and legendary band was born.  Many historians sight  ? and the Mysterians as the first ‘punk band’.

Here’s what it sounded like after the re-write in 1966….

My God,….I Just Can’t Stop Dancin’….

How ’bout You?


  1. Didn’t really love the song or the band’s weird story however it is interesting how they evolved. Thanks for the extra info on who they were

    • Well Jules, as usual were in complete agreement with you. In fact, growing up in Southern California and being a musician playing in various bands. We hated 96 Tears with the annoying drone of the cheap “Farfisa” organ and lame lyrics. The song was like a devisive Lightning rod whenever it came on the radio, with half the gang trying to turn it up and the other half changing the channel…Yikes!
      Thanx Jules

  2. Strange band and the lead singer seemed to be a “wanna be Mick Jagger” although I seem to remember the song went to #1 on the charts. In researching the group it seems the Eccentric front man Question Mark (actually spelled “?,” once he had his name legally changed) cultivated an aura of mystery by never appearing in public without a pair of wraparound sunglasses(from what I saw, looked kind of like a bug) and he frequently claimed he had been born on Mars and lived among the dinosaurs in a past life, and that voices from the future had revealed he would be performing “96 Tears” in the year 10,000. Go figure….as I stated..Strange.

    • Hey Julie, Yep you nailed it “Strange” is the operative word for ? And The Mysterians. Soooo here are a few more answers to a few questions about ? !
      Yes, he wore the wrap around shades 24/7 no matter what. For a while he pushed to have the band wear them as well. In addition he wanted the other band members to go by the names W, X, Y and Z.
      Neither idea was embraced by the band. AND here’s the big answer… .Although Question Mark legally changed his name to ? His real name is Rudy Martinez….Also the band took their name from a bad “B” movie, Science Fiction film from 1957 called….What else? “The Mysterians” and of course they claimed the movie was about them!
      The facts are, their bio says the band formed in Saginaw Michigan which is true But “The Mysterians all hailed from El Paso Texas and, GET THIS they were all children of migrant farm workers and when picking season came all the families would pack up and move from Texas to Michigan. An annual trip till the Detroit auto business exploded and all thr families moved there for permanent work.
      The final thought we have re: 96 Tears we believe is profound!
      When you consider the songs original title “69 Tears” and the songs lyrics, 69 tears is a positive experience, 69 tears are “Tears of joy”….69 is a verb, rather than a number!
      Catch our drift?…..Let us know and……We’re you a lover or a hater of this odd little record and the even more odd story of the band?

      • Should I be embarrassed to say that I really liked the song? I’d never actually listened to the lyrics: I just liked the groove. Now I’m laughing to myself. Thanks for the insight.

        • Hey Denise, you ask “Should I be embarrassed?… No, not at all! The truth is your comment perfectly underscores how “96 Tears” resonated in such a devisive way back in 1966…
          And now 50 years later in 2017 when we include the explicit original title “69 Tears” the song takes on a whole new dynamic…
          Hey, if you’re still curious, do a title search of 96 Tears and you’ll find a new video of ? And the band performing the song ? Is dressed in an orange jump suit and looks and moves like Mick Jagger!
          Thanx Denise, great to hear your unique commentary and have you join the conversation

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