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Monster Mash Singer dead at 69

1459 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Lady Nyxie
A Sad Day Today

Bobby "Boris" Pickett, whose dead-on Boris Karloff impression propelled the Halloween anthem to the top of the charts in 1962, making him one of pop music's most enduring one-hit wonders, has died of leukemia. He was 69.

Pickett, dubbed "The Guy Lombardo of Halloween," died Wednesday night at the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital, said his longtime manager, Stuart Hersh. His daughter, Nancy, and his sister, Lynda, were at Pickett's bedside.

"Monster Mash" hit the Billboard chart three times: when it debuted in 1962, reaching No. 1 the week before Halloween; again in August 1970, and for a third time in May 1973. The resurrections were appropriate for a song where Pickett gravely intoned the forever-stuck-in-your-head chorus: "He did the monster mash. ... It was a graveyard smash."

The novelty hit's fans included Bob Dylan, who played the single on his XM Satellite Radio program last October. "Our next artist is considered a one-hit wonder, but his one hit comes back year after year," Dylan noted.

The hit single ensured Pickett's place in the pantheon of pop music obscurities, said syndicated radio host Dr. Demento, whose long-running program celebrates offbeat tunes.

"It's certainly the biggest Halloween song of all time," said Demento. The DJ, who interviewed Pickett last year, said he maintained a sense of humor about his singular success: "As he loved to say at oldies shows, 'And now I'm going to do a medley of my hit.' "

Englishman, born William Henry Pratt) was forged in Somerville, Massachusetts, where the boy watched horror films in a theater managed by his father.

Pickett used the impersonation in a nightclub act and when performing with his band the Cordials. A bandmate convinced Pickett they needed to do a song to showcase the Karloff voice, and "Monster Mash" was born -- "written in about a half-hour," said Dr. Demento.

The recording, done in a couple of hours, featured a then-unknown piano player named Leon Russell and a backing band christened The Crypt-Kickers. It was rejected by four major labels before Gary Paxton, lead singer on the Hollywood Argyles' novelty hit "Alley Oop," released "Monster Mash" on his own label.

The instant smash became a sort-of Christmas carol for the pumpkin and ghoul set. In a 1996 interview with People magazine, Pickett said he never grew tired of it: "When I hear it, I hear a cash register ringing."

While Pickett never re-created its success, his "Monster's Holiday," a Christmas follow-up, reached No. 30 in December 1962. And "Graduation Day" hit No. 80 in June 1963.

He continued performing through his final gig in November. He remained in demand for Halloween performances, including a memorable 1973 show where his bus broke down outside Frankenstein, Missouri.

Beside his daughter and sister, Pickett is survived by two grandchildren.
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Very sad he's gone. I was poking around YouTube just the other day watching an old performance of him doing the Monster Mash on stage.
Greatest song ever, as far as I'm concerned.
Met him once... I was the only one in line at Spooky World to get his autograph one night. He was a real dick to me.

Still love the song though.
Maybe he was pissed that you were the only one?
If that was the case, why treat your ONE fan like crap?

It was near the end of the night, so I doubt I had been the only one to see him. He was wanting to leave, so his "handler" asked anyone that was in line for his autograph to come to the front of the line... I was the only one. I had a record I went through the trouble of buying on eBay and everything and he was very short with me and seemed very annoyed.
He was a real dick to me.
It's very unfortunate when a fan is treated that way, especially when you are not bothering them simply in the streets, but at a venue they are being paid to attend, and you the fan are paying to be there.

Zombie, I easily have that incident beat. If you are ever so inclined to meet William Shatner at a Sci-Fi convention, you'll learn the real definition of "dick"
Rest in peace Bobby "Boris" Pickett.
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