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Question Mark & the Mysterians Made Bay City, and National Music History

July 7, 2013       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Question Mark & the Mysterians

Gary Johnson will jog your musical memory next Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Bay County Historical Museum.

His question: Do you remember the rock and roll hit, "Ninety-six Tears?"

Also, do you recall that its production was an iconic moment, the rarest in an unmemorable musical history of Bay City.

"On Saturday, October 1, 1966, ? (Question Mark) and The Mysterians made their network television debut on American Bandstand with host Dick Clark," says Johnson.

"The band performed its hit single, "Ninety-six Tears". Ten days later, on October 11th, - and The Mysterians would perform "Ninety-six Tears" on another Dick Clark production, ABC-TV's 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. daily pop music show, "Where The Action Is."

"By the end of the month, the song would reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Very few viewers on either of those days knew that "Ninety-six Tears" had been recorded in Art Schiell's small studio, located in the back of his home on Bay City's West Side.

Retired school teacher Gary (Dr. J) Johnson established the state's only on-line Hall of Fame for Michigan artists in 2005 at

He recalls: "Looking at the small house at 405 Raymond Street in Bay City, Michigan, it's hard to imagine that it was once the home of the Schiell Recording Studio or that a hit record was made there.

"Although it's largely forgotten in Bay City and mistakes about it are found in most of the rock and roll historical accounts concerning the #1 song "Ninety-six Tears", Art Schiell's studio represented an important first step to completing a seemingly improbable quest for the young musicians who recorded it there.

"It would have been exciting enough in 1966 to make a record and just get it played on a local radio station. But to have that record reach the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100, a recording that was made in a small studio inside an average looking home on a typical city street - who in their wildest dreams could have conceived of it actually happening"? You might think it a little unusual that so few people in Bay City know the location where 96 Tears" was recorded, especially considering that many, if not most, of its citizens are familiar with the song. There are still a few folks in town who remember the name Art Schiell, but that's primarily because of his successful beauty salon. Many of those familiar with his salon don't know that Schiell also operated a small recording studio.

The archives of the Bay City Times had no stories about Schiell or his accomplishments, although he and his studio were credited in a single sentence in a Times story on October 28, 1966, about Bay City native and Mysterian keyboardist Frankie Rodriguez when 96 Tears" reached #1.

The studio was also mentioned in the newspaper's 1983 obituary for Art. It stated that he operated the Schiell's Recording Studio, but it failed to mention his involvement with 96 Tears."

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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