Biographie : Question Mark And The Mysterians

Question Mark and the Mysterians (rendered ? and the Mysterians on the record label) are an American rock and roll band formed in Bay City, Michigan, in 1962.
The group is best known for its song "96 Tears", a garage rock classic recorded in 1966 that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and would go on to sell over one million copies and receive a BMI award for over three million airplays. ? and the Mysterians was perhaps the first band to be described as punk rock, and also may be the first Latino rock group to have a mainstream hit record in the United States. The group named itself after the 1957 Japanese science fiction film The Mysterians, in which aliens from the destroyed planet Mysteroid arrive to conquer Earth.

The band's frontman and primary songwriter was ?. Though the singer has never confirmed it, Library of Congress copyright registrations indicate that his birth name is Rudy Martinez.

The original lineup came together in 1962, composed of Larry Borjas on bass guitar, Borjas's cousin, Robert Balderrama guitar, and Robert Martinez on guitars and bongos. Martinez switched to drums shortly thereafter. The band played instrumental music inspired by surf groups and artists like Link Wray. ? joined shortly thereafter as the lead singer. It is widely believed that ? was born Rudy Martinez, and was the brother of drummer Robert Martinez. These Mexican-American musicians were from the Saginaw area of Michigan with ? coming from Flint. Robert Martinez was drafted into the U.S. military just before the band was scheduled to begin recording and Larry Borjas decided to enlist with him using the buddy system to keep the two friends together. Immediate replacements were needed and both Eddie Serrato (drums) and Frank Lugo (bass guitar) were recruited from Mexican bands, with Bobby Balderrama switching from bass to guitar. Fourteen-year-old Frank Rodriguez was brought in on keyboards and the classic "96 Tears"' lineup was formed.

? wrote the song that would become their first and biggest hit, "96 Tears," with essential riffs and styling being contributed by the Mysterians. The song began as a poem called "Too Many Teardrops", written four years before the band was formed. With its plaintive chorus and Rodriguez's catchy Vox organ riff, "96 Tears" was originally recorded on March 13, 1966, in Bay City, Michigan, as a single for local Pa-Go-Go Records, owned by the group's manager, Lillian Gonzales. The song was recorded on the porch of a private home and became a regional hit in the Flint and Detroit areas.

It was originally intended that the song "Midnight Hour" would be the group's first single, with "96 Tears" as the B-side, but at the insistence of ?, "96 Tears" was chosen as the A-side. ? personally went to radio stations to promote the single, and the song quickly became a local hit. When Cameo-Parkway Records released the song, the single hit No. 1. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

The band's next two singles, "I Need Somebody" and "Can't Get Enough of You Baby," also charted, but were nowhere near as successful as "96 Tears". "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" would eventually reach #14 on US charts in 1998 when covered by Smash Mouth. The group's second album, Action, featured the Mysterians at the peak of their musicianship but was not as commercially successful. The band next briefly recorded with Capitol Records, Tangerine Records and Super K, with lineup changes occurring as the original members began to go off in other directions. Mel Shacher, prior to his role as bass player for Grand Funk Railroad, was briefly the bass guitarist for the band. In 1969 bassist Richard Schultz replaced Shacher and helped co-write numerous songs with ?; one in particular was "She Goes to Church on Sunday," which is currently with Paul McCartney's publishing company. "96 Tears" was covered by numerous artists and became part of the standard classic rock repertoire, and has been recorded in dozens of different versions.

In the early 1970s, ? and the Mysterians reformed with a different lineup consisting of two guitars and no keyboards, attracting the attention of rock critic Dave Marsh, who coined the term "punk rock" in a 1971 article in Creem magazine about ?. ? and the original Mysterians held a reunion concert in Dallas, Texas, in 1984, with Robert Martinez on drums once again, as Eddie Serrato had become ill with muscular dystrophy. This did not lead to a full revival for the band, but a recording was made and released by the NYC label ROIR, 96 Tears Forever: The Dallas Re-Union Tapes. In 1997 the group reformed again, collaborating with NYC promoter Jon Weiss, who made the band headliners at his CaveStomp Garage rock festivals. Cavestomp featured many revived 60's garage and psychedelic acts. The newly revitalized Mysterians quickly established themselves as one of the strongest playing bands of these reformed groups, and touring in various mid-sized concert venues followed. The reformed Mysterians gigged sporadically throughout 1998 and 1999 and made two visits to Europe, where, in November 1998, they wowed a capacity crowd at the "Wild Weekend" garage rock weekend in London. They followed with a second, longer tour in summer 1999 and an unlikely appearance at the Royal Festival Hall classical music venue as part of the "Meltdown 1999" music festival.

Unable to secure the rights to their own master recordings and re-release their now out-of-print albums 96 Tears and Action, which now belonged to Allen Klein, the Mysterians re-recorded their original 1966 album and released it on the Collectables label in 1997, which was for the most part a reissue label only. Do You Feel It Baby?, a live album, was released in 1998 on Norton Records, with moderate sales. There was also a new studio album in 1999, More Action, produced and recorded by Jon Weiss in New York City. Album design was by Michael Calleia at Industrial Strength Design in New York City. ? dissolved his business relationship with Jon Weiss coinciding with the release of the record, allegedly due to dissatisfaction with the record and other business issues. The group went on a hiatus from performing shortly around that time.

In 1992 ? teamed up with a rising young rap artist Saltine aka The Mad Rapper for a hip hop remake of "96 Tears". The single was released on Pandisc Records following a huge industry buzz on radio. Billboard Magazine gave the single a thumbs up. In 2000 ? began a collaboration with NYC guitarist and rock promoter Gary Fury. This collaboration has led to a series of live concerts featuring ? with a backing band led by Fury featuring musicians from other garage bands in the NY area. The first incarnation included Jim "Royalle" Baglino of The Casino Royalles and later Monster Magnet on Bass, Sam Steinig of the Philadelphia band Mondo Topless on keyboards and original Mysterians drummer Robert Martinez. The group was billed as ? and the Mysterymen and played the now infamous Limelight and Washington DC's The Black Cat. Then, in 2002 ? returned to NYC to headline a two-night garage fest at CBGB's.

The lineup featured ?, Fury and Robert Martinez, with Keith Hartel on bass and former Pat Benatar keyboardist Charlie Giordano billed as ? and The New Mysterians. A multi-track recording was made in CBGB's studio which is still unreleased. In May 2007, ? and Gary Fury revived their musical collaboration for a benefit show at NYC's Highline Ballroom. ? performed on stage with a backing group led by Fury, known as The Playthings. The group featured Fury on guitar, Jim Baglino returning on bass, Jimi Black of Cheetah Chrome and Sylvain Sylvain on drums, and Brian Leonard on keyboards. The encore featured a special guest appearance by Late Show with David Letterman's CBS Orchestra band leader Paul Shaffer playing keyboards during the encore, with Robert Martinez playing drums. Many musicians from well-known rock outfits of the past came to pay tribute to ?, including Tommy Ramone of The Ramones, Joe Bouchard of Blue Öyster Cult, John Hawken of Strawbs, and many other important British bands and Gary Lucas, the former guitarist for Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, and co-songwriter for the late Jeff Buckley.[citation needed] Guitarist Dennis Dean Lack joined the band in 1985 and was Question Mark's main guitarist and music director, and still collaborates on new songs with Question Mark into 2010. Lack has been active in the band for over 13 years; he now resides in northern Michigan, currently working on a solo album due to be released sometime in 2011.

In between these shows ? was still occasionally active with the original Mysterians, and in 2001 ? and the original lineup returned to New York City to play the first Little Steven's Underground garage live event, selling out the Village Underground. Then, in 2003 they played what was billed as the final Cavestomp show co-headlining with The Vagrants in the Polish National Home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York.

In 2006, ? And The Mysterians were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. The band's biggest hit, "96 Tears", was voted a Legendary Michigan Song the following year.

On January 10, 2007, a fire destroyed the home of ? on his farm in Clio, Michigan, taking all of his memorabilia and the lives of his breeding dogs (Yorkies). Dog breeding had been a viable business for ? for many years. Benefit shows have been held around the country with ? performing at some of these events.

The Mysterians (without ?) still play live in and around their home state of Michigan, and around the country. A documentary film about them is slowly being assembled by longtime friend and photographer Terry Murphy, who runs the official website for ? and the Mysterians. The working title for the film is Are You For Real?.

Mysterians drummer, Eddie Serrato, (born Eduardo Serrato, December 5, 1945) died on February 24, 2011, from a heart attack at the age of 65.

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