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Boomer Earworms: 96 Tears

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When the group came up with this song, ? didn’t want to use a title with a number in it because he thought they would be accused of ripping off The Rolling Stones, who had a hit with “19th Nervous Breakdown.” His bandmates convinced him to go with it.

The record was taped in a converted living room in Bay City, Michigan. The band then had the Texas-based Pa-Go-Go Records press 500 copies so they could distribute them to the DJ’s in southern Michigan. The song became the most requested record on WTAC Flint, and CKLW out of Windsor, Canada, which went into Detroit. Cameo Records, having solvency problems, picked up the record after one of its staffers heard it on CKLW.

In our interview with ?, he talked about how this song came together: “Little Frank [keyboard player Frank Rodriguez] comes in singing a tune, and I said, ‘I’ve heard that before. And I ain’t going to do nothing until I’ve heard where that music and the title of it comes from.’ He played it for like 45 minutes. Everybody’s getting mad. And then all of a sudden it dawned on me, I said, ‘Oh, I know where I heard that. I wrote that song long time ago.’

Then the lyrics came out: ‘Too many teardrops for one heart to be crying,’ all that came out just like that. Boom. See, it was meant to be. There are certain things that are meant to be.”   – – Songfacts

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  • David Smith April 19, 2021, 3:11 PM

    Good memories of 60s music in Southeastern Michigan. WTAC was a 1000 watt +/- AM station in Flint, which signal could be heard from Ohio line to Mackinac Straits in daytime. Station introduced many great songs and artists from area. CKLW is a 50 kw station in Windsor, Ontario, south of Detroit, aimed at Detroit market, exempt from FCC jurisdiction. Both introduced much new music.
    ? and Mysterions appeared in “My Music” on PBS circa 2010, still mysterious.

  • Thomas Anderson April 19, 2021, 4:41 PM

    Byron MacGregor ! …CKLW 20-20News ! … When the smoke cleared this morning in Livonia 7 lay dead.

    17 year old Claudette Claudette ate dirt ! That’s right Dirt. Pronounced dead at Ontario General this morning

    The Big Blast out of Windsor was soooo much better than US Great Lake region stations

  • Fred April 19, 2021, 6:45 PM

    I was 12, in Atlanta, walking 2 miles (with ball and bag) to get there early every Saturday morning for Jr. league bowling. $2.50 of paper-route profits in pocket, two singles and two quarters.

    $1.25 for cheeseburger, fries, and Coke at lunch at Mickey D’s next door after bowling.
    99¢ for league play itself, including 3 games and shoes.

    And – Extremely Important – (1) 25¢ piece for the jukebox before anyone else got there, except fat old Charlie Rapier, who hated kids, and especially me. Because after dropping my quarter in the jukebox I would always sneak behind the counter and turn it up full blast while he was out there laying down acetate scoresheets and wax pencils on the lanes.

    Every Saturday morning my playlist was always the same.
    #1 song: Wipeout, by The Surfaris.
    #2 : 96 Tears, by ? and The Mysterians.
    #3 audio thrill : Telstar, by The Tornadoes.
    A perfect way to crank up the mood and start the weekend off right.
    Good times, good times.

  • ghostsniper April 19, 2021, 7:07 PM

    7th grade
    school bus
    am radio

  • Rob De Witt April 19, 2021, 10:56 PM

    Earworm? Sounds like a migraine.

    Also an excellent example of why I stopped listening to the radio in around 1957.

  • gwbnyc April 20, 2021, 2:31 AM


    *blah blah blah GRATIOT AND EIGHT MILE ROAD…*

    when the ionosphere allowed us Motown we got it in cleveland. and hard.

    we did have our own WJMO- “Wee Jam Mo’ Offen”

    and Channel 7 (?) Detroit on the rarest of occasions- Johnny Ginger’s kid program. from Detroit& London, Ontario, IIRC

    man, STFU and gimme a Vernor’s…

  • Dirk April 20, 2021, 6:56 AM

    Music, is the language of the world. A barrier breaker.

    I don’t think I have this in my very large album and CD collection. 2500ish albums 650 CDs, did I mention I love music.

    James Browns blasting out of the mighty Tube amp, its associate PreAmp, thru my tube driven CD player.
    Coffee with just a splash of Baileys! Gypsy Kings up next.

    Gonna be a great day in the neighborhood.

    Village idiot

  • ghostsniper April 20, 2021, 7:20 AM

    Dirk sed: “…tube driven CD player.”
    I’d like to know more about that thing, brand, model, circa, etc.

  • Dirk April 20, 2021, 3:07 PM

    Ghost, it’s a California Audio Tech, unit. I paid 1200.00 five years ago. I’ll get you the numbers when I’m back home. These are-very rare units. calif Audio Tech was a high end builder of CD and other musical stuff, no longer around.

    Sony had a couple Tube CD playersback in the day. Got mine down in Reno. The only realxown side is I let my tube amps, Pre Amps and we’ll anything tube related warm up three to five minutes.

    After the lights go green, I’m good to go.

    I’m chasing the past, I want music I grew up,with, on equipment long gone. Own like fifteen tube amps and pre amps, for me the music just sounds better.

    I’ve listened to DAC induced music, soumdsgood, to my ear it sounds computer enhanced, which is what a DAC does, outstanding if that’s what one wants, just not for me. Just so,etching about the 60s early 70s, tube gear call me to it. The musics warm comfortable the highs high, the lows” low. Kinda like magic, only different.

    I’ll get the numbers to you tomorrow,we’re headed out to the desert fishing ominously stream on the high creeks and rivers.our target rivers the chewacan river out of Paisley Oregon. Got the perfect fly tied, the trout and hunger and aggressive!