"Monster Mash" Singer Bobby "Boris" Pickett Dies At 69
He was the reluctant hero of Halloween, an icon who became so associated with the holiday, it ended his normal singing career.
Bobby "Boris" Pickett, the man behind one of the most famous one-hit wonders in history, died Thursday. The artist who made "Monster Mash" an annual event starting in 1962 was suffering from leukemia and was only 69 years old.
The story behind the legendary song is as famous as the tune itself. It came about only because Pickett did a dead-on impression of horror movie lead Boris Karloff and used to mimic him as part of his singing act, during the vocal interlude of the Diamonds' hit "Little Darlin'".
The crowd always went wild and a band mate suggested Pickett cut a novelty tune to take advantage of the popularity.
It took them only half an hour to pen the classic, which begins with the sound of a crypt opening (actually a nail being ripped out of a piece of wood), a driving drum beat and the words "I was working in the lab late one night ..."
It concerns a presumably Frankenstein-like creature that rises from his slab and begins to do the Monster Mash.
Like the lyrics, it soon became a graveyard smash.
But Pickett was never able to get back to normal in the music business and the former cab driver was always being asked to do the tune or the voice.
In the end, he gave in and dedicated his career to the horror genre, and never stopped touring.
He was always in demand, especially around October 31st, and never had a Halloween night off.
"Monster Mash" holds a special place in music history. It's the only record to ever reach the top of charts three separate times in three separate releases - once in 1962, again in 1970 and a final time in 1973.
Only "The Twist" can match that performance - and it only managed its number one ranking twice.
The Monster Mash has never been off the radio and like those traditional Christmas tunes that turn up every December, they'll always be playing it to death - a state horror buff Pickett surely would have appreciated.