On this day in music history: October 29, 1966 - “96 Tears” by ? (Question Mark) & The Mysterians hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Rudy Martinez (aka ? (Question Mark), the song is the first and biggest hit for the Mexican American garage band from Flint and Saginaw, MI. Formed in 1962, the band take their name from the sci-fi novel “The Mysterians”. Influenced by both surf rock and instrumental guitar musicians like Link Wray and Duane Eddy, ? & The Mysterians are also inspired by The British Invasion that sweeps the US, following The Beatles American breakthrough in 1964. The song evolves from a poem titled “Too Many Teardrops” written band leader and lead singer Rudy Martinez. It is recorded in the living room of their manager Lilly Gonzalez’s home, who first releases the single on her own label, Pa-Go-Go Records. It becomes a local hit in the Flint and Saginaw area, when radio stations WTAC in Flint, then CKLW in the Detroit/Windsor, Ontario, Canada area begin playing it. From there, “96 Tears” attracts the attention of Neil Bogart, the then president of Cameo/Parkway Records, who buys the master and re-releases it nationally. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on September 3, 1966, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. ? (Question Mark) & The Mysterians become the first Mexican American band to score a number one single on the US pop singles chart. Though they only score minor hits with the follow up singles “I Need Somebody” (#22 Pop) and “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby” (#56 Pop), the band have a lasting influence on popular music. “96 Tears” is covered by a wide variety of artists including Aretha Franklin, Iggy Pop, Todd Rundgren, and Garland Jeffreys. ? (Question Mark) & The Mysterians are also regarded as forefathers of the garage rock/proto-punk movement that springs up in their wake. “96 Tears” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 8, 1957 - “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” by Elvis Presley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 8 weeks, also topping the Country & Western chart for 1 week on August 5, 1957 and the Rhythm & Blues chart for 1 week on September 2, 1957. Written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe, it is the rock & roll icon’s seventh number one single in just under fifteen months. Songwriters Mann and Lowe (co-founders of Philadelphia based Cameo-Parkway Records) hear of a rumor started (no one is certain where or by whom) that Elvis Presley collected teddy bears, leading his fans to send him thousands of the cuddly toys. This provides the inspiration for the pair to write the song for Presley’s second film “Loving You”. The track is recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA on January 24, 1957 with Presley’s regular band including Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass), D.J. Fontana (drums) and The Jordanaires (background vocals). Entering the Best Sellers chart at #23 on June 24, 1957, it pole vaults to the top of the chart two weeks later. “Teddy Bear” quickly sells over two million copies in the US, and is the third of four chart topping singles for Elvis during 1957. Presley becomes the only artist in history to hold the top spot on the pop singles chart for 25 weeks, which he does consecutively in both 1956 and 1957. “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.