"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.
The song was originally written by Question Mark, Rudy Martinez, around 1962. 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 by record collectors.
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 Mark. Library 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:
- Big Maybelle, from her 1967 album, America's Queen Mother of Soul: Got a Brand New Bag.
- Eef Barzelay
- David Byrne
- Joe "King" Carrasco
- Jack of Heart
- The Cramps
- Eddie and the Hot Rods, from their 1976 EP, Live at the Marquee
- The Foundations, a live version of "96 Tears" appears on the European EP Baby, Now That I've Found You
- Aretha Franklin, from her 1967 album, Aretha Arrives.
- Thelma Houston
- Inspiral Carpets, on disc 2 (Rare As) of their 2003 compilation album Cool As
- Garland Jeffreys, from his 1980 album, Escape Artist
- The Modern Lovers
- Music Explosion, from their 1967 album Little Bit O' Soul
- The Music Machine, from their 1966 album, (Turn On) The Music Machine.
- Iggy Pop
- Primal Scream, a B-side on their 1997 single, Kowalski
- The Residents, a drastically different rearrangement is included on their 1976 album, The Third Reich 'n Roll early in the "Hitler was a Vegetarian" segment.
- The Rubinoos
- Jimmy Ruffin
- Bruce Springsteen, as a "Stump the Band" number during his 2009 Working on a Dream Tour
- The Stranglers, from their 1990 album, 10
- Suicide, live performance included on some reissues of 1977 album, Suicide
- Texas Tornados
- Tom Tom Club
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.