Saturday, March 12, 2022

Phil Nee: March 12

One of my favorite bands of the early 70's was Badfinger.  Their haunting single 'Day After Day' hit its peak in early 1972 and the group picked up a gold record in March.  Guitarist Joey Molland was my guest in 2003.  I had the chance to ask him about George Harrison's involvement with that song.

When the Badfinger song 'Baby Blue' debuted on the charts in March of 1972, it was an instant classic.  It gained new popularity when it was used in the finale of the series Breaking Bad.  I had the chance to ask Joey Molland about that hit.


One of my favorite new artists of the early '70's was Badfinger.  People may have referred to them as "The Baby Beatles," but they had their own unique way with a song (even though The Beatles WERE involved to some degree ... John Lennon renamed them, after they first recorded for Apple as The Iveys, Paul McCartney wrote and produced their first hit single, "Come And Get It," from the film "The Magic Christian," which just happened to star Ringo Starr, and George Harrison produced ... and played slide guitar on their 1972 big hit "Day After Day!"  Badfinger even performed at George's Concert For Bangla Desh, with Pete Ham sharing the acoustic guitar duties during Harrison's performance of "Here Comes The Sun.")

Still, their hit ratio was phenomenal ... inside of just two years, they hit The Top Ten four times with "Come And Get It" (#3, 1970), "No Matter What" (#4, 1970), "Day After Day" (#1, 1972) and Baby Blue" (#9, 1972)  Their "Straight Up" album (produced by George Harrison and Todd Rundgren) remains one of my very favorite LPs of all time.  (kk)

Many of my favorite guests are those that have only had one moment on the charts.  Chicago born actress/singer Beverly Bremers joined me by phone in 2007.  I had the chance to ask her about her recording career and 'Don't Say You Don't Remember,' which was on the charts in March of 1972.  This song is truly a forgotten hit and it often gets a good response when I bring it back to the airwaves.

Beverly Bremers was one of the first interviews I ever did for Forgotten Hits.  I always found "Don't Say You Don't Remember" to be catchy as hell ... and it went all the way to #4 here in Chicago.  (It peaked at #13 nationally.)  Beverly was doing quite a bit of voice-over work for Disney at the time we talked.  I always felt she should have had a more noticeable career on the pop charts (although she immediately pointed out, to both me AND Phil, that her follow-up single, "We're Free," also made The Top 40, making her technically NOT a One-Hit Wonder act.)  I dunno ... it peaked at #40 in Billboard only ... and I wonder if three people out there can actually sing a line of this tune!  (lol)  kk

Friday, March 11, 2022

Around Here, March Madness = Magical Monkee Moments (all from March of 1968 ... as the band scores their last #1 Hit!)

Gary Strobl provides more ...



March 7, 1968

The Napa Valley Register

March 10, 1968

The Daily Inter Lake

 March 16, 1968

The News

March 18, 1968

The Chicago Tribune

March 30, 1968 

Cash Box Magazine - Top 100 Hits


Although it may not have been reflected in Billboard Magazine, The Monkees scored FIVE #1 Hits on the pop charts between October of 1966 and March of 1968, an INCREDIBLE stretch of hit singles spread out over 17 months that also included Top 20 showings for "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" (#20), "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (#2) and "Words" (#5).

"Valleri" was a chestnut that was revived as a hit single a year after it was first used in their television series in the "Captain Crocodile" episode.  By this point, The Monkees had wrangled creative control of their recorded output ... but this also meant that they had to go back into the studio and recreate the magic of this original session.  (They even brought the song's writers, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, back onboard to help oversee the sessions, despite taking Producer's credit for themselves, which was now also part of their contractual agreement.)  Some thought the new recording lacked some of the magic of those original 1967 sessions ... but I loved it ... and so did a whole lot of other people as it became the group's sixth million selling single.

The Monkees would have one more Top 20 Hit before officially disbanding in 1970.  ("D.W. Washburn" hit #10 in Cash Box and #19 in Billboard when it was released as the group's next single.)  A remarkable comeback sixteen years later (after MTV started airing old episodes of their TV series) created one more Top 20 smash ("That Was Then, This Is Now") ... and the band was able to tour for four decades performing their special brand of feel-good music for millions of fans all over the world.


You can read what I like to call the TRUE story behind The Monkees' hit "Valleri"in our salute to The Music of Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart" here:

You'll find it in Chapter 6!  (kk)

Thursday, March 10, 2022

? and the Mysterians ... The Way We Used To Buy 'em!




On April 29th, ABKCO will release the first two albums by Michigan garage Rock legends, ? (aka Question Mark) And The Mysterians … 96 Tears (1966) and Action (1967). The recordings (originally released on Cameo-Parkway Records during the band’s initial run) will be rightfully returned to vinyl, while expanded CD packages of each album will follow later in 2022.  


Formed in the Bay City / Saginaw area of Michigan in 1962 by Mexican-American children of migrant farm workers, the band gained popularity with the addition of drummer Robert Martinez’s brother Rudy, aka Question Mark, as lead vocalist. The eccentric Question Mark (often stylized as ?) has claimed to have been born on Mars and lived among dinosaurs in a past life. The band’s debut single “96 Tears,” with its distinctive organ line played by Mysterians’ keyboardist “Little” Frank Rodriguez, was originally released on Pa-Go-Go Records in 1966, but was quickly reissued by the more established, Philadelphia-based label Cameo-Parkway Records. 


The raw-yet-infectious song swept the airwaves, hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 29, 1966, beating out The Monkees, The Four Tops, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Dionne Warwick, Sonny & Cher, The Beach Boys and many more established acts. ? and The Mysterians’ debut album, also titled 96 Tears, followed in October, ’66, just as the single was crossing the one million sales mark. The LP, filled out with ten more originals -- including the Top 40 hit “I Need Somebody” -- plus a version of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday,” peaked at #66. 


A mere eight months after 96 Tears was released, Cameo-Parkway put out the follow up full-length Action in June of ’67. Their sophomore album is more evenly split between originals and covers, among them “Can’t Get Enough of You, Baby,” written by Denny Randell and Sandy Linzer and first recorded by The Four Seasons one year previous. ? and The Mysterians’ version got to #56 on the Billboard Hot 100, faring better than Smash Mouth’s ubiquitous 1998 version, which appeared on four other Billboard charts but was absent from the coveted Hot 100. Action would be the band’s last studio album for more than three decades. 


“‘96 Tears’ Is one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs in the history of the genre,” said Bill Holdship of Detroit Metro Times in 2009. “In fact, it may be the greatest.” In a May, 1971, issue of Creem magazine, Dave Marsh referred to a ? (Question Mark) and The Mysterians reunion as “a landmark exposition of punk-rock,” one of the very first times the genre was applied to a band. Not only did they influence others within punk, but they have also had a profound impact on music writ large. “96 Tears” alone has been covered by a diverse range of artists, including Iggy Pop, Suicide, The Modern Lovers, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, The Sir Douglas Quintet, The Tom Tom Club, Primal Scream, Big Maybelle, Jimmy Ruffin and Aretha Franklin.  


SiriusXM’s Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel air personality Lenny Kaye, who masterminded the famed Nuggets compilations that shined a light on the garage rock phenomenon of the mid-1960s commented, “‘96 Tears’ is the ur-text of garage rock, the truest ‘Nugget’ if you dug It ... In these two albums, Question Mark and The Mysterians answer the eternal query with the yearning spirit and self-revelation that is becoming a band, yowl, reedy organ and guitars on stun, with a backbeat that accelerates the move-and-groove. I remember seeing ‘Qwesty’ and the band at Coney Island High in the mid-90s, me and Joey Ramone hollering, ‘Yeah baybee!,’ knowing we were at the heart of rock as it begins to roll.” 


On March 10th, the new audio-first entertainment company Fresh Produce Media and Audible will launch their first collaboration together, the new podcast Punk in Translation: Latinx Origins. Across eight episodes, released all at once exclusively as an Audible Original, Punk in Translation is Audible’s first production to be simultaneously published in both English and Spanish, and will tell the stories of Latinx artists and Latin music’s overlooked role in the origins and evolution of punk. The entire first episode, entitled A Band of Outsiders, is dedicated to ? And The Mysterians, and features the band’s guitarist Bobby Balderrama telling the story of how the “Mexican kids” from Michigan wound up performing on American Bandstand and ruling the charts. 

For more information or to listen to Punk in Translation, contact Hannah Schwartz at Shore Fire Media:  


96 Tears and Action vinyl albums are available now for pre-order: 



1.       I Need Somebody 

2.     Stormy Monday 

3.     You’re Telling Me Lies 

4.    Ten O’Clock 

5.    Set Aside 

6.    Up Side 


1.       “8” Teen 

2.     Don’t Tease Me 

3.     Don’t Break This Heart of Mine 

4.    Why Me 

5.    Midnight Hour 

6.    96 Tears 

? and The Mysterians – Action  

Side A  

1.       Girl (You Captivate Me) 

2.     Can’t Get Enough of You, Baby 

3.     Got To 

4.    I’ll Be Back 

5.    Shout (Parts 1 & 2) 

Side B 

1.       Hangin’ On a String 

2.     Smokes 

3.     It’s Not Easy 

4.    Don’t Hold It Against Me 

5.    Just Like a Rose 

6.   Do You Feel It 


? and the Mysterians placed 4th in our Top 50 Garage Bands of All-Time poll a few years back.  (Damn!!!  Has it REALLY been ten years already?!?!  This poll first ran in 2012!)


Incredibly, it was a comment from one of our Forgotten Hits Readers that got the ball rolling.  They mentioned in their email that “Tthanks to their #1 Hit "96 Tears," ? and the Mysterians had to be the greatest garage group of all time. After we published her letter, we started to get a ton of responses ... "What are you, crazy?!?! The greatest garage group of all time has to be The Kingsmen ... there is NO greater garage song than 'Louie Louie'!" ... which, in turn, prompted, "What about The Standells and 'Dirty Water'?" and "How can you even talk about garage bands and leave out The Shadows Of Knight? 'Gloria' is the ULTIMATE Garage Band song." More letters followed, nominating artists and tracks like "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen, "Wild Thing" by The Troggs and "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

Suddenly, we knew we were on to something ... so, in 2012, we decided to poll our readers in order to determine, once and for all, who are The Greatest Garage Bands of All-Time!!! Just over 9000 votes came in (9008 to be exact!) and, with THAT kind of response, I think we've been able to assemble the definitive list.

We then partnered with Mike Dugo, who ran the excellent website (since shut down) and between us, wrote brief bios on each of the finalists, ultimately expanding the list to include The Top 50 so that we could permanently post something on the website.

(You can view the whole list via the link provided below!)

Meanwhile, from those final tabulations, here is the piece that we ran on ? and the Mysterians exactly ten years ago …



Perhaps the only group universally classified as a “garage band” to top the charts, Flint, Michigan’s ? & The Mysterians’ were led by Rudy Martinez, who also wrote their classic ‘96 Tears’. The organ-driven song has often times been credited with having the term “punk rock” — for the first time in print — applied to it (by critic Dave Marsh). ? & The Mysterians are often regarded as a “one-hit wonder”, but their follow-up song ‘I Need Somebody’ just missed making the Top 20. (Mike Dugo)

Attempts to reach Rudy Martinez ... who apparently ONLY goes by the name "Question Mark" these days ... failed to generate a response in time to run in our countdown / recap … which is really too bad, as I felt he would be very proud to know how highly his band placed on the list … and, in fact, INSPIRED the list in the first place!  (After our piece ran, I did hear back from Question Mark, through film-maker Terry Murphy.)

Remember all the publicity Prince got when he changed his name to a symbol? (And can you believe that was TWENTY YEARS AGO already?!?!?) And everybody thought it was such an original and unique concept??? Au contraire, mes petits chouchous ... Rudy Martinez was using the "?" question mark symbol nearly thirty years earlier ... and went so far as to legally changing his name to "?" years later.

"96 Tears" is, without question ... pun intended ... one of the stand-out tracks of the '60's ... it has SUCH a distinctive sound that, once you hear it, it never leaves you. It topped the charts in late 1966 and (despite the fact that, until recently, Cameo / Parkway material hasn't been commercially available for ages), has never really been off the radio.

The band had other chart hits, too ... "I Need Somebody" followed it into The Top 40, peaking at #15 later that same year ... and "Can't Get Enough Of You, Baby," while only reaching #47, became one of those huge, signature tunes when it was recorded by Smash Mouth thirty years later.

That "cheesy" Farfisa Organ became an integral part of the '60's sound ... and the intro to all of their hits immediately let the listener know that ? and the Mysterians were on the air!!! Great times ... great memories. (kk)

A recent film documentary by Terry Murphy declares ? and the Mysterians to be "The World's Greatest Garage Band" ... and they are, without QUESTION, right up there at the top ... but according to YOUR votes ... they OFFICIALLY come in at #4.

Martinez made headlines a few years back when his home was destroyed in a fire, destroying all of his precious memorabilia from the glory days. Meanwhile, the band maintains a GREAT website, which you can view here:
Click here: The Official Website Of ? and The Mysterians, 96 tears, and the Film 'Are You For Real?'

You can see the whole Top 50 list here: