Taking their name from a Japanese science fiction film titled The Mysterians, ? & the Mysterians formed in 1962 in Saginaw/Bay City, Michigan. The band consisted of Larry Borjas (bass), Bobby Balderrama (guitar), and Robert Martinez (drums). When the band originally started out in 62, they played mostly instrumental songs that were inspired by Link Wray and Surf music. The bands lead singer and main song writer goes by the name ? (Pronounced question mark). His name was said to actually be Rudy Martinez, until he legally changed his name to ?. He also claims that he was born on the planet Mars and that he once lived in a past life with dinosaurs. This eccentric lead singer also is never caught without a pair of wrap around sunglasses.
Around 1964, the band relocated to Flint, Michigan and started building up a fan base. There was then a line up change because Robert Martinez was drafted, Larry Borjas was also enlisted. Frank Lugo took over on bass duties, Eddie Serrato became the Mysterians drummer and Frank Rodriguez was added as organist/keyboardist. With these new members in place, the classic "96 Tears" line up of ? & the Mysterians was formed. A poem by ? titled "Too Many Tear Drops" was brought into the band. It quickly became what would be known as "96 Tears", which would be the bands biggest hit. In 1966 the band recorded "96 Tears" for a local label that was owned by the bands manager Lillian Gonzales, Pa-Go-Go. The organ fuelled Garage Rock song became a hit locally in the Flint/Detroit area, which in turn attracted major record labels. The band signed to Cameo-Parkway Records because the labels logo was orange and that was ?'s favourite colour. With the band on a major label, they had more distribution and "96 Tears" became not only a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but a Garage Rock classic. The song was also the first hit single by any Latino Rock band, and ? with his snotty attitude has also been named as a detrimental element in the evolution of Garage Rock and Punk music.
The bands first full length album was released in 1966, it was simply titled 96 Tears. The next single "I Need Somebody", also charted on the Billboard charts. "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" was the bands next single in 1967, it was minor hit on the Billboard charts. A second album followed the same year titled Action. This raucous album that featured many R & B cover songs, did not sell well and at the time the bands label Cameo-Parkway was dealing with financial difficulties. The label was absorbed by Allen Klein of ABKO Records, the Mystrians left the label and recorded more music for Capitol Records, Tangerine Records, and Super K Records. During this time there were line up changes in the group, Mel Schacher played briefly with the group, he would later go on to play with Grand Funk Railroad. The band also recorded an album for Ray Charles label TRC, that remains unreleased.
In the early 70s, ? & the Mystrians reformed with a different line up yet again, this time with two guitars and no organ/keyboards. They recorded again in 1972 and 1973 for different labels, but there was no real response commercially. ? eventually left the group to become a dog breeder, but the Mystrians would regroup again in 1978 to record some demos in New York with Kim Fowley. The tapes were eventually released as 96 Tears Forever: The Dallas Re-Union Tapes on the ROIR label. In 1984 the band played a reunion show in Dallas, Texas (where most of the band members grew up before relocating to Michigan) with original drummer Robert Martinez on drums. In 1997 the band reunited yet again playing at the CavesStomp Garage Rock festivals, they also played a variety of live shows in the US and Europe throughout the late 90s. In 1997, the band re-recorded their debut album 96 Tears. The reason that the band did this was that they were not able to get the rights to their original master recordings that were done in the 60s, the album was released on the Collectables label as Question Mark & The Mysterians. A live album as released in 1998 and in 1999 a new studio album was released titled More Action. After this release the band went on hiatus for awhile.
The band reformed in 2001 for a live concert event for Little Steven's Underground Garage, in 2003 they played for the final CaveStomp Garage Rock festival. In 2006, ? & the Mysterians were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Currently the Mysterians, without ? play live shows and a documentary is in the works on the band rumoured to be titled Are You For Real.
This Week's Play List:
1. ? and The Mysterians - You're Telling Me Lies
2. ? and The Mysterians - It's Not Easy
3. Northwest Company - Get Away From It All
4. The Haunted - 8 O' Clock This Morning
5. Ugly Ducklings - Just In Case You Wonder
6. Mark Sultan - Something Wrong
7. Dirty Pretty Things - Hippy's Son
8. Spoon - Got Nuffin
9. The Horrors - Count in Fives
10. Action Replay - Decisions
11. Slates - Empty Streets
12. Private School - Rock and Roll Radio
13. Dream Dates - The Mess you're In
14. The Dishrags - Past is Past
15. Generation X - English Dream
16. Vampire Weekend - Holiday
17. The Vores - Monster
18. The Adverts - One Chord Wonders
19. The Hives - Abra Cadaver
20. Fire Engines - Everything's Roses
21. The Crocodiles - Soft Skull (In My Room)
22. The Hot Rats - The Big Sky
23. John Lennon - I Found Out
24. Paul McCartney - Smile Away
25. Blur - M.O.R.
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 26. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.