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"96 Tears" is a popular song recorded by Question Mark & the Mysterians (also known as "? and the Mysterians") in 1966. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and on theRPM 100 in Canada and is ranked #213 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


 [hide*1 History


The song was originally written by Question Mark, Rudy Martinez, around 1962.[citation needed] The recording was done in Bay City, Michigan. It was first released on the small Pa-Go-Go label and then picked up by Cameo Records for national distribution. The original issue is quite rare and sought after[citation needed] by record collectors.

Known for its signature organ licks and bare-bones lyrics, "96 Tears" is widely recognized as one of the first garage band hits and has even been given credit for starting the punk rock movement.[1]

The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. in 1966 and almost simultaneously topped the RPM 100 in Canada. Follow-up song "I Need Somebody" peaked at number 22 later that year and no other U.S. top-40 singles followed. It appears on the band's album 96 Tears.


  • Lead singer Question MarkLibrary of Congress copyright registrations indicate that his birth name is Rudy Martinez.
  • Bobby Balderrama – lead guitar
  • Frank Rodriguez – Vox Continental Organ
  • Frank Lugo – bass guitar
  • Eddie Serrato – drums


The song has been covered by the following artists:

It is alluded to in the song "Plus Ones" by folk band Okkervil River and also by the B-52's in "Deadbeat Club". Other allusions to "96 Tears" occur in the songs "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' To Glide" by the Kings, "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline" by X, "Human Fly" by the Cramps and "My Arrow's Aim" by Rocket from the Crypt. One possible homage is heard in a later section of "Lovin' Machine" by the Easybeats. In literature, the song plays a prominent part in Stephen King's 1999 novella Hearts in Atlantis.

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