Monster Mash: How the ghoulish Halloween song by Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett came to be – and became a huge hit (1962)

Bobby Pickett - Monster Mash LP cover

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Old Halloween songs never die — they just reappear on the chart every decade or so! Such is the case with Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s million-seller, “Monster Mash.”

Robert George Pickett (1938-2007), was just 24 when he had a frightfully successful hit song. Here’s the story!

He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the monster mash

Monster Mash album cover

Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett performs Monster Mash on American Bandstand with Dick Clark (1964)

YouTube video

Monster Mash: How the hit song by Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett came to be – and became a huge hit (1973)

Old novelty records never die, they just reappear on the chart every decade or so. Such is the case with Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s 11-year old million-seller, “Monster Mash.”

“My friend Kim Fowley called me from Hollywood and said, ‘Hey man, you’re gonna have the biggest hit in the country,'” related Pickett, who received similar tidings several years back when “Mash,” reissued for the first time, began to bubble under the Hot 100 before tapering off.

“Kim assured me Bill Gavin had picked the record, and that it was in fact already appearing on the trade charts again,” he added.

Monster Mash LP cover

According to Pickett, WOKY in Milwaukee programmed the single as an oldie when suddenly the station began drawing more and more requests for it.

Once added to the regular playlist. “Mash” soon picked up stations across the country until it went national, and began its creeping ascendance up the chart.

Pickett explained how it all started: “In 1960, I was in California attempting to crack the big time as an actor. In between jobs, I got together with some old high school buddies, and we formed the Cordials, five guys singing R&B tunes like ‘Sunday Kind of Love.’

“We’d do ‘Little Darlin’,’ the old Diamonds thing, and on the recitation part, I’d ham it up and take off on it with a Boris Karloff voice.”

Monster Mash How the hit song by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett came to be

Horror lover’s tune goes on to become a Halloween favorite

Bobby “Boris” Pickett, who’s been a horror film buff since childhood, received the biggest hand of the group’s set for the impression, and decided to one day cut a record using the voice, coupled with a current dance craze popular in the early 60s. (Stream or download the song here!)

Two years later, having since then left the Cordials and still leading the life of the struggling actor, Pickett wrote the Halloween tune with friend Lenny Capizzi.

Through a mutual acquaintance, they were introduced to Gary Paxton, lead singer of the Hollywood Argyles, who at that time had their own novelty number called “Alley-Oop.” He heard the demo and immediately “flipped over it.”

After being turned down by three majors, Paxton leased it to London Records, which released it on his own, now defunct label, Garpax Records.

“Within eight weeks, it was the No. 1 record in the country,” Pickett pointed out. The date was Oct. 20, 1962.

The real Bobby Pickett

Bobby 'Boris' Pickett not being a monster

In early ’63, due largely to the success of “Mash,” acting jobs became more frequent for Pickett. He appeared in more than 30 national network commercials in 1963-66.

Frequent television guest appearances followed, with dramatic and comedy stints on such shows as “Bonanza,” “Dan August,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Dr Kildare,” and he even performed in a couple of motorcycle flicks.

“For the last three years, my wife Joan and I have been working around the ski resort areas singing soft folk harmonies,” Pickett went on. Their friend. collaborator and manager. Richard Mikesell, had already secured the act bookings across the South this fall when word came that “Mash” was turning into a monster.

ALSO SEE:  These vintage Halloween masks & costumes may seem weird now, but they were all the rage back in the 60s & 70s!

“We’ve scrubbed the Pickett and Payne tour, and are now concentrating on a monster theatrical happening, which we will tour with later this year with our band, the Crypt Kickers,” he added. “It will be called The Crypt Kickers Graveyard Revue, featuring a lot of wild performers and surprises.”

Vintage Monster Mash ad from 1960s

Monster Mash – the 1962 hit song – reissued in 1973

And to what does Bobby “Boris” Pickett attribute this resurgence of an 11-year-old oldie?

“With the seriousness of the times weighing us down, I feel the country is crying out for laughter. In my record, happily, they’ve found it.”

The follow-up single to “Monster Mash,” as described by Pickett, will find his Karloff singing “a tender R&B ballad capturing the nostalgia of our times.”

Yet to look forward to is the Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein,” maybe to be dug up in 1984.

ALSO SEE: We wish these cute vintage Halloween stickers from the 70s and 80s were still available today!

“Monster Mash” is happening – again! Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt Kickers (May 1973)

Billboard May 12, 1973 Monster Mash reissue

The Halloween hit “Monster Mash” on the Billboard charts again (September 1973)

Monster Mash, the new single for Bobby “Boris” Pickett is now a monster hit… for the third time. We have sold over 1,000,000 copies so far, and are still going strong. So now, the album.

Billboard Sep 8, 1973 Monster Mash

DON’T MISS THIS: These vintage Halloween costumes based on ’70s TV shows were creepy for all the wrong reasons

The follow-up: The Monster Swim

YouTube video

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