The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 April 2007

No "graveyard smash" jokes

Bobby "Boris" Pickett, whose "Monster Mash" was one of the very few records ever to make the Top Ten in two different decades, died Wednesday night in a VA hospital in Los Angeles at the age of 69.

The Mash, dashed off by Pickett with the able assistance of Leonard Capizzi, one of his buddies in the vocal group the Cordials, was supplemented by wonderfully low-tech sound effects: the opening of the coffin is actually a nail being claw-hammered out of a 2x4, and that bubbly stuff is water being blown through a soda straw. Released in August of 1962, it peaked at #1 right before Halloween, knocking out the 4 Seasons' "Sherry." Producer Gary Paxton put together a whole album on his Garpax label, from which "Monsters' Holiday" was rush-released right before Christmas, topping out at #30. Pickett was capable of non-Karloff sounds, and his next single was a version of the standard "Graduation Day," which stalled near the bottom of the chart. In 1970, signed to RCA Victor, he had no new hits, but Nipper reissued "Monster Mash," which did manage to chart, and in 1973 London Records revived the original Garpax album, this time on the Parrot label (XPAS 71063), complete with original liner notes. As you might expect, they reissued the "Monster Mash" 45, which crept into the Top Ten, albeit in the spring.

And Pickett did manage one non-Monster hit of sorts: his 1975 collaboration with Peter Ferrara, "Stardrek," poking fun at another cultural institution, was a staple of the Dr. Demento Show for many years. ("Into the elevator, Mr. Schlock! Let's beam down to the planet's surface so I can find an alien to fall in love with before the program is over!" orders Captain Jerk.) Ferrara and Pickett did one more item of note, a version of "Respect" sung by the Godfather. Still, the Monster Mash was never far away, and in 2004 Pickett reworked it into the environmental anthem "Monster Slash". vends Pickett material and memorabilia, should you want to crank up the ol' Transylvania Twist.

Posted at 7:54 AM to Tongue and Groove

Certainly it was one of the catchiest pop/novelty songs ever written. Some deride it as lowbrow, but it will outlast the Pyramids.

A virtually perfect example of its genre, it deserves a launch into space a la Chuck Berry. Galactus will never dare eat our planet once he gets an earful of Monster Mash.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 2:40 PM on 29 April 2007