Michigan musician Rudy Martinez - known to legions of fans as the enigmatic rocker Question Mark - is picking up the pieces after a fire destroyed his home near Clio last week.
Vocalist Martinez and his band the Mysterians are best known for their chart-topping 1966 hit, “96 Tears,” a quintessential garage-rock tune driven by a memorable Farfisa organ riff.
A career's worth of memorabilia was lost in the Jan. 9 fire, said Mysterians guitarist Bobby Balderama, including a gold record for "96 Tears" and other artifacts from Martinez' four decades in the music business.
No one was injured in the blaze, which was apparently caused by frayed electrical wiring, Balderama said. Several pets perished in the fire, including four Yorkshire terriers and a parrot.
“He said he lost everything,” Balderama said. “And he didn't have any insurance. It's going to be hard to get a gold record replaced right now.”
Martinez' colorful personality and garage-godfather status have made him a popular figure on the contemporary Michigan music scene. Plans for benefit concerts in Saginaw and metro Detroit are underway, according to friends familiar with the situation.
“It's just devastating,” said Bo White, owner of White's Bar, a Saginaw pub and music club. “He lost photographs, records, everything. He has a great perspective, though. He's always said, ‘I don't care about objects and material things like that.' He seems to be handling it really well and looking toward the future.”
Balderama said Question Mark & the Mysterians, who have performed a handful of annual shows in recent years, are sketching out a 2007 calendar that may include a summer tour in Europe.
The band is scheduled to perform Feb. 9 at the outdoor festival Detroit's Winter Blast.
Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.
By Brian McCollum, Detroit Free Press Pop Music Critic