[WWI] Monster Mash singer/songwriter dead
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Thu Apr 26 17:04:18 EDT 2007
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-you r-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.'"
Pickett's impression of Karloff (who despite his name was an Englishman,
born William Henry Pratt) was forged in Somerville, Mass., 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.
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