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Frankenstein (instrumental)

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Single by The Edgar Winter Group
from the album They Only Come Out at Night
B-side"Undercover Man"
ReleasedFebruary 21, 1973
  • 4:44 (album version)
  • 3:28 (single version)
  • 3:02 (first single version)
Songwriter(s)Edgar Winter
Producer(s)Rick Derringer
The Edgar Winter Group singles chronology
"I Can't Turn You Loose"
"Free Ride"
"Frankenstein" (single version) on YouTube

"Frankenstein" is an instrumental track by the American rock band Edgar Winter Group that was featured in the 1972 album They Only Come Out at Night and additionally released as a single.

The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in May 1973, being replaced by Paul McCartney's "My Love". Frankenstein sold over one million copies. It fared equally well in Canada reaching number 1 on the RPM 100 Top Singles Chart the following month.[1] That same month, the song peaked at number 18 in the UK Singles Chart.[2] The following month, the song peaked at number 10 in Mexico. The song also peaked at number 39 in West Germany, remaining on the chart for one week. The single was certified gold on June 19, 1973, by the RIAA.[3]


Coined by the band's drummer Chuck Ruff, the song's title came about from the massive editing of the original studio recording. As the band deviated from the musical arrangement into less structured jams, the song required numerous edits to shorten it. The final track was spliced together from many sections of the original recording. Winter also frequently referred to the appropriateness of the name in relation to its "monster-like, lumbering beat". (One riff was first used by Winter in the song "Hung Up", on his jazz-oriented first album Entrance. He later tried a variation on it, "Martians" on the 1981 Standing on Rock album.)

Winter played many of the instruments on the track, including keyboards, alto saxophone and timbales.[4][5] As the release's only instrumental cut, the song was not initially intended to be on the album, and was only included on a whim as a last-minute addition. It was originally released as the B-side to "Hangin' Around", but the two were soon reversed by the label when disc jockeys nationwide in the United States, as well as in Canada, were inundated with phone calls and realized this was the hit.[4] The song features a "double" drum solo, with Ruff on drums and Winter on percussion. In fact, the working title of the song was "The Double Drum Song".[6] The group performed the song, with Rick Derringer on guitar, on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973.[7]

Record World called the song "a thumping instrumental featuring fine performances by each member [of the group]."[8]

The song was actually performed three years previously when Edgar was playing with his older brother Johnny Winter at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970. This rare recording was released in 2004 as one of several live bonus tracks included in the two-disc Legacy Edition CD of Johnny Winter's Second Winter.

Rolling Stone listed it number 7 on their top 25 best rock instrumentals.[9] Sections of the track were edited and sequenced into idents and jingles for Alan Freeman's Top 40 and Saturday Rock Show on UK's BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2 for many years, often followed with Freeman's trademark opening line "Greetings Pop Pickers..."[citation needed]

In live performances of the song, Edgar Winter further pioneered the advancement of the synthesizer as a lead instrument by becoming the first person ever to strap a keyboard instrument around his neck, giving him the on-stage mobility and audience interaction of guitar players.[10]

The song is described as a hard rock,[11] progressive rock, and blues rock instrumental,[12][13][14] and an example of art rock by non-art rock bands.[15]

In 1983, Winter released a beat-heavy, more-synthesizer-heavy reworking of the song;[16] its contemporaneous video, an homage with Winter appearing as Dr. Frankenstein, was added to MTV's playlist in November of that year.[17]


Cover versions[edit]

A cover version performed by WaveGroup Sound was featured in the video game Guitar Hero as one of five tracks in its sixth and highest difficulty tier, referred to in-game as "Face Melters".[21]

The band Phish has played the song live 92 times over their career. [22]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1973) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[23] 19
Canadian Singles Chart[24] 1
West German Singles Chart[25] 39
Mexican Singles Chart[26] 10
UK Singles Chart[27] 18
Billboard Hot 100 (US)[28] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1973) Rank
Canada [29] 22


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[3] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  2. ^ Dafydd Rees & Luke Crampton, Rock Movers & Shakers, 1991 Billboard Books, ISBN 978-0874366617
  3. ^ a b "American single certifications – Edgar Winter Group – Frankenstein". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 1, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Corbett, John (2019). Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music. University of Chicago Press. p. 122. ISBN 9780226604732.
  5. ^ synthhead (2010-05-08). "The Story Of Edgar Winter's Frankenstein – Synthtopia". Synthtopia.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  6. ^ Morse, Tim. Classic Rock Stories: The Stories Behind the Greatest Songs of All Time, 1998.
  7. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003.
  8. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. March 17, 1973. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-03-23.
  9. ^ "The Twenty-Five Best Rock Instrumentals | Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. 2013-08-03. Archived from the original on 2013-08-03. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  10. ^ Keyboard Magazine, November 01, 2008, p. 19
  11. ^ Boone, Brian (2011). I Love Rock 'n' Roll (Except When I Hate It): Extremely Important Stuff About the Songs and Bands You Love, Hate, Love to Hate , and Hate to Love. Penguin. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-101517-314.
  12. ^ Apter, Jeff (2009). The Dave Grohl Story. Omnibus Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-85712-021-2.
  13. ^ Bonomo, Joe (2017). Field Recordings from the Inside: Essays. Soft Skull Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-593766-702.
  14. ^ Breihan, Tom (November 15, 2022). "Bon Jovi - "You Give Love a Bad Name". The Number Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal the History of Pop Music. New York: Hachette Book Group. p. 176.
  15. ^ Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-793540-426.
  16. ^ "Edgar Winter - Frankenstein 1984". Discogs. 1983.
  17. ^ "Billboard" (PDF). Worldradiohistory.com. 1983-11-19. Retrieved 2023-05-22.
  18. ^ "Welcome to JAM Magazine". jammagazine.com.
  19. ^ "Music Aficionado - For People Who Appreciate Great Music". Music Aficionado. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  20. ^ "Frankenstein - The Edgar Winter Group - September 3, 1974". Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  21. ^ Chalk, Andy (2007-10-17). "WaveGroup Announces The Guitar Hero Recordings". The Escapist. Archived from the original on 2009-07-11. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  22. ^ "Phish Frankenstein".
  23. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 341. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  24. ^ "RPM100 Singles". RPM (magazine). 17 July 2013. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  25. ^ "Edgar Winter - Frankenstein (song)". Offizeielle Deutsche Charts. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  26. ^ Billboard - Mexico. Billboard Magazine. 1973-07-14. p. 60. Retrieved March 29, 2018. edgar winter frankenstein mexico billboard.
  27. ^ "Edgar Winter Group". Official Charts. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  28. ^ "Edgar Winter - Frankenstein". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  29. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles of 1973" (PDF). Collectionscanada.gc.ca. December 29, 1973.

External links[edit]