Dr. J's Blog

Rock and Roll History, News & Views

"96 Tears" Pt. 1 - Too Many Mistakes For One Heart To Be Cryin'

Very few people in Bay City, or anywhere else for that matter, know where "96 Tears" was recorded. Even local folks who are interested in rock and roll are confused as to the correct city; citing Saginaw, Flint, and even Auburn as the place where the famous recording was made. That being the case, I guess it shouldn't be surprising to find that there is a great deal of inaccurate information in the writings of people not from this area when dealing with ? and The Mysterians and "96 Tears" in rock and roll history. In my attempt to research the recording career of Art Schiell and his recording of "96 Tears" at his small studio in Bay City, I uncovered quite a few mistakes and also some completely false information in a variety of rock and roll sources.

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How About A Little Respect For Art Schiell

Boy! Talk about a guy who does something great and gets very little respect for his efforts - that would be Art Schiell. In 1966, Schiell recorded the classic "96 Tears" with Question Mark and The Mysterians at the small studio located inside his home at 405 Raymond Street on Bay City's West Side. The song became a # 1 hit that year on Billboard's Hot 100. It was the only song ever recorded in Bay City, Michigan to achieve that distinction.


"96 Tears" has become a classic of the 'garage rock' genre. Schiell's recording of the song, however, didn't even rate a feature story in the Bay City Times that year. Worse yet, has been the myth that has grown over the years that the recording of "96 Tears" was some type of thrown-together affair done at a make-shift studio. Although this version has been gradually accepted as fact in most rock and roll historical accounts, nothing could be further from the truth.

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Madonna Misconstrued

Madonna became the first person from Bay City to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, March 10, 2008. Inductees were honored with a video montage leading up to their induction, and listed below Madonna's name was Bay City, Michigan. It was certainly no accident that Bay City was placed under Madonna's name. The question is why? The city has never treated Madonna with very much respect.

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