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The other Question Mark: "96 Tears"

"Too many teardrops for one heart to be crying"
--
"96 Tears"

Even as the details get stranger and stranger in the case of Cho Seung-Hui, the student poet/playwright turned Virginia Tech mass murderer, one particular non-sequitor stands out, at least to students of Michigan rock and roll. According to Cho's roommates, he sometimes insisted on being called by the name "Question Mark." As CNN attempts a close-reading of Cho's manifesto, focusing on the inscription "Ax Ishmael," garage-punks know they're missing a reference: after all, there's only one Question Mark. He's the man who was born Rudy Martinez (or Ted Cohen, depending on who you believe); who claimed to be a space alien; who, decades before Prince went all symbolic, managed to legally change his name to "?"; who started a tex-mex rock-n-roll band named after a Japanese sci-fi turkey in 1960s Saginaw, Michigan; and who eventually had a #1 hit with a song that more or less created garage-rock's obsession with the Farfisa (which, as some purists still claim, may actually have been a Vox Continental). The song, which your grandmom probably made out to, is "96 Tears." The band was ? and the Mysterians. They still show up at Cavestomp-like oldies shows; Question Mark, who has long walked the line between eccentric and certifiably loony, raises yorkies and recently had his house burn down.

Tonight, do not ask for whom the tears toll: they toll for thee.

WATCH: Question Mark and the Mysterians, "96 Tears":

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