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Pickett in 2005
|Birth name||Robert George Pickett|
|Also known as||Bobby "Boris" Pickett|
|Born||February 11, 1938|
Somerville, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||April 25, 2007 (aged 69)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Robert George Pickett (February 11, 1938 – April 25, 2007), known by the pen name Bobby "Boris" Pickett, was an American singer, songwriter, actor and comedian known for co-writing and performing the 1962 hit novelty song "Monster Mash."
Pickett was born in Somerville, Massachusetts on February 11, 1938. His father was a theater manager and as a nine-year-old, he watched many horror films. He would later incorporate impressions of them in his Hollywood nightclub act in 1959. An aspiring actor, Pickett began his musical career as a vocalist for a local swing band 'Darren Bailes and The Wolf Eaters'. Pickett served in the United States Army from March 9, 1956 to March 13, 1959 and was stationed in Korea for an unknown period of time.
Pickett co-wrote "Monster Mash" with Leonard Capizzi in May 1962. The song was a spoof on the dance crazes popular at the time, including the Twist and the Mashed Potato, which inspired the title. The song featured Pickett's impersonations of veteran horror stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi (the latter with the line "Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?"). It was passed on by every major record label, but after hearing the song, Gary S. Paxton agreed to produce and engineer it; among the musicians who played on it was pianist Leon Russell. Issued on Paxton's Garpax Records, the single became a million seller, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks before Halloween in 1962. It was styled as being by "Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & the Crypt-Kicker 5". The track re-entered the U.S. charts twice, in August 1970, and again in May 1973, when it reached the #10 spot. In Britain it took until October 1973 for the tune to become popular, peaking at #3 in the UK Singles Chart. For the second time, the record sold over one million copies. The tune remains a Halloween perennial on radio and on iTunes. A Christmas-themed follow-up, "Monster's Holiday", (b/w "Monster Motion") was also released in 1962 and reached #30 in December that year. "Blood Bank Blues" (b/w "Me and My Mummy") did not chart. This was followed by further monster-themed recordings such as the album The Original Monster Mash and such singles as "Werewolf Watusi" and "The Monster Swim". In 1973, Pickett rerecorded "Me and My Mummy" for a Metromedia 45 (it did not chart). Another of Pickett's songs, "Graduation Day", made #80 in June 1963. In 1985, with American culture experiencing a growing awareness of rap music, Pickett released "Monster Rap", which describes the mad scientist's frustration at being unable to teach the dancing monster from "Monster Mash" how to talk. The problem is solved when he teaches the monster to rap.
In 1975, Pickett recorded a novelty spoof on Star Trek called "Star Drek" with Peter Ferrara, again performing some of the various voices, which was played on Dr. Demento's radio show for many years. He also performed a duet with Ferrara in 1976 titled "King Kong (Your Song)" spoofing the movie by the same name that was released that year.
In the early 1980s a musical "sequel" to the "Monster Mash" called "The Monster Rap" was released, which featured Pickett teaching the creature to speak through "rapping". Though not nearly as popular as the original "Monster Mash", it once again found a reasonable following with the Dr. Demento fanbase.
In 1993, Pickett wrote and performed "It's Alive", another sequel of sorts to the original "Mash" song. It did not chart but was played occasionally on the Demento show.
Film and writing
In 1967, Pickett and television author Sheldon Allman wrote the musical I'm Sorry the Bridge Is Out, You'll Have to Spend the Night. It has been produced by local theatres around the U.S. They followed it up later with another musical, Frankenstein Unbound. In 1995 the co-writers of Disney's Toy Story, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, produced a movie of it, originally entitled Frankenstein Sings, but later released in the US under Monster Mash: The Movie. Pickett starred in it with Candace Cameron, Jimmie Walker, Mink Stole, John Kassir, Sarah Douglas, Anthony Crivello, Adam Shankman and Carrie Ann Inaba. On ABC-TV, he appeared on the guest segment of The Long Hot Summer, with Roy Thinnes and Nancy Malone, in August 1967.
In 2005 Pickett published his autobiography through Trafford Publishing. It was called Monster Mash: Half Dead in Hollywood.
He appeared as a guest on the television show Beyond Vaudeville in 1991.
Pickett appeared in such roles as Archie Bunker as part of a stage comedy revue about television, presented in Boston, "Don't Touch That Dial".
Pickett appeared in several classic film genres: beach movie, It's a Bikini World (1967); biker, Chrome and Hot Leather (1971); horror, Deathmaster (1972) and the sci-fi comedy film, Lobster Man From Mars (1989).
In 2004, Pickett served as the narrator of the children's film Spookley the Square Pumpkin.
On April 25, 2007, Pickett died in Los Angeles, California from leukemia at the age of 69. The May 13, 2007, episode of the Dr. Demento show, featured a documentary retrospective of Pickett's work.
- "Bobby Pickett, 69; Scored 'Monster' Hit". The New York Times. Associated Press. April 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
Bobby (Boris) Pickett, whose Boris Karloff impression propelled the Halloween novelty song Monster Mash to the top of the charts in 1962, making him one of pop music's most enduring one-hit wonders, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 69. His longtime manager, Stuart Hersh, said the cause was leukemia.
- "Interview With Bobby "Boris" Pickett". Classicbands.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Robert Pickett, 11 February 1938 (Report). Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem. United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 150. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 426. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 333. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "'Monster Mash' Singer Bobby 'Boris' Pickett Dies at 69". Fox News. 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
- Official site
- Official MySpace site
- Bobby Pickett on IMDb
- Biographical obituary discussing in-depth the life, career and importance of Pickett and his hit song from NewYorkNightTrain.com
- "Bobby Pickett". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
- Classicbands.com entry on Bobby "Boris" Pickett
- on YouTube
- Interview with Bobby Pickett, June 18, 2003; author: Linda Alexander