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
Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett performs Monster Mash on American Bandstand with Dick Clark (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.
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.”
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.
Two years later, having since then left the Cordials and still leading the life of the struggling actor, Pickett wrote the 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
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.
“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.”
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.
“Monster Mash” is happening – again! Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt Kickers (May 1973)
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.