[GARAGE-ROCK TRIBUTE] When I reached Question Mark—frontman for garage-rock legends ? and the Mysterians—via telephone at his Chicago hotel room, he had no idea there was to be a benefit for him in Portland. I told him a dozen local bands were getting together this Saturday to play songs from the seminal '60s garage compilation Nuggets in his honor. I also told the singer—whose Michigan home burned down in January—that the artists would be sending the show's profits his way (there have been several other benefits nationwide). Of course, the singer, whose legal name is actually ?, was very grateful, but he asked, "What compilation now?"
"I never listen to other people's music, really," explained Mark, who claims—astoundingly—to have never heard Nuggets. But event organizer Luke Strahota sees more in ?—a man who claims to have been born on Mars—than just the figurehead of an era: "I admire lifelong musicians," Strahota says, "the people who keep playing whether they make a lot of money or not." A lifer no doubt, ? has just self-released a new 7-inch, though he's best known for his 1966 No. 1 hit, "96 Tears" (for which, unfortunately, he recieves no royalties due to complications with Cameo-Parkway records). I wrote to the night's bands for their thoughts on the Mysterians and Nuggets.
Gregarious T. Cline (of the Sugarlumps)
"I heard '96 Tears' when I found a pile of old 45s as a kid. It left an indelible imprint on me. I don't know anybody who upon first listening to it hasn't been completely blown away."
Joe Kobjerowski (of The Honus Huffhines)
"It was when I was 16 that I found a copy of '96 Tears' on vinyl at a used book store. I put it on and instantly realized that I had zero idea what the hell was coming out of the speakers. I'm not sure I understand it [now] any better than I did back then."
Mark Sten (of the Oblivion Seekers, who will play a separate, all-Mysterians set at the benefit)
"Fred Cole [of Dead Moon] said once that ? was the ultimate '60s punk singer, and that's about right. I bought [the Mysterians'] first album in 1967. I got it autographed after they played Berbati's, which was the second time I've ever bothered anyone for an autograph."