Bobby Balderrama is a wonderful guy who started one of the greatest punk bands ever: Question Mark & the Mysterians, otherwise known as the humans who wrote and performed “96 Tears” back in 1966.
The piercing organ riff, bare-bones vocal track, and low-fidelity production make it a safe candidate for first punk rock song ever. If you haven’t heard it I feel sorry for you, and you should press the little orange button down there before we go any further.
I talked to Bobby about 20 years ago, when I was doing the original interviews for Please Kill Me. He was a delight to interview. As he recounted how “96 Tears” came to be a hit single, his enthusiasm, naïveté, and sheer love of rock ‘n’ roll was completely infectious. Bobby told his story so well I could just imagine him walking the single to record shops and radio stations, hoping against hope that somebody would notice it. Sort of like how That Thing You Do might have been if the theme song were actually good.