Often called the godfather of Halloween, Bobby Boris Pickett was born on February 11, 1938 in Somerville Massachusetts. His real name is Robert George Pickett
In 1961, Pickett was discharged from the army. From there he moved to Los Angeles to get into show business. He wanted to be an actor, but his plans fell through. By 1962, Pickett was singing at night clubs with a group called the Cordials. One night while performing, Pickett imitated horror movie actor Boris Karloff while singing the Diamonds hit song “Little Darlin”. Band member Larry Capizzi encouraged Pickett to use his Karloff imitation more. Capizzi helped Pickett write “Monster Mash. The song took three hours to write.
The song was turned down by four record companies until producer Gary S. Paxton heard the song and agreed to release the song on his Garpax record label. The backup group called The Crypt Kickers are members Leon Russell, Johnny MacRae, Rickie Page, and Terry Berg. Inexpensive sound effects were used throughout the song. A nail being pulled from a piece of wood was used to make the sound of a coffin opening up. Pickett blowing bubbles through a straw made the cauldron sound, and chains being dragged were used. Monster Mash was in the billboard hot 100 charts three different times. The first time it was on the charts was in the #1 position on October 20, 1962.
On August 29, 1970 the song reappeared on the charts at #91. Finally on May 5, 1972 Monster Mash made its final appearance landing at #10 on the Billboard charts. In total, 4 million copies of Monster Mash have been sold up to this point. The song was so popular, that the scariest person in show business, Boris Karloff, sang the song on Shindig in 1965. In 1994 oldies 103.3 WODS paid a lot of money to have Pickett record a version of the song with different lyrics to accommodate the stations oldies format.
Pickett isn’t a one hit wonder. In the 70s, he recorded two songs with American lawyer Peter Ferrara. The first song that came out in 1975 was a spoof of “Star Trek” called “Star Drek”. In 1976, “King Kong (Your Song)” was also released by the duo. Both songs got a fair amount of air play on the Dr. Demento show.
The monster theme was used in other novelty songs. In 1984 on the Easy Street record label, “Monster Rap” was released but never charted. In 1992, “Its Alive” was released and can be found on the “Dr. Demento Basement Tapes No. 1” album. A new version of “Monster Mash”, called “Climate Mash” was recorded in 2005 protesting climate change.
Recording songs wasn’t the only thing that Pickett did to pay the bills. In the early 60s, Pickett had a Saturday night radio show from 9 until midnight on AM 870 KRLA in Los Angeles.
By 1995, “Monster Mash” the movie was released to the public. The movie came out of a theatre production written by Pickett and Sheldon Allman called “I’m Sorry the Bridge Is Out, You’ll Have to Spend the Night”. That long title was used as a song in the movie. This is a horror movie with comedy and music. Full House star Candace Cameron played the girl friend, while Bobby Boris Pickett plays Dr. Frankenstein.
Sadly, on Wednesday April 25, 2007 Bobby Boris Pickett died of leukemia at the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital. He was only sixty nine years old. He left behind a sister, a daughter, and a granddaughter.
Tune into Cindy’s Vinyl Vault Sunday nights from 10 to midnight, Monday nights 11 to midnight, and Wednesday nights 9 to 11 for the best music from the 50s through the 70s ever placed on vinyl. Remember it’s not how old it is, but how great it sounds.