Best known for the novelty hit The Monster Mash, Bobby 'Boris' Pickett is now making a graveyard smash of his own. He's died at the age of 69.
A childhood watching horror movies at his father's cinema led Robert Pickett to develop a passable impression of Boris Karloff. This provided a useful stand-by when Pickett entered showbusiness - it brightened nightclub performances by his band the Cordials, with Pickett slipping in a bit of Boris to enliven the spoken stretches of their covers of 50s standards.
Fellow Cordial Lenny Capizzi was Dr Frankenstein to Pickett's Monster Mash, badgering Bobby to turn the mid-set gag into a single. Bobby remembers Lenny's suggestion:
When Bobby finally agreed, the track came swiftly - half hour to write, two hours to record - although finding a label proved more tricky. The labels which turned it down must sometimes rue their decision, as the song not only hit the charts three times (it took just eight weeks from conception to top the charts), but has sold four million copies and become what Variety describes as a "Christmas carol for Halloween". Pickett was happy enough to be associated with the song, happily turning out to perform it right up until November last year.
NASA use the Monster Mash to wake up astronauts in space on October 31st; there was a less-memorable follow up (Monster's Holiday) and a non-monster related single, Graduation Day.
Pickett died from leukemia; he is survived by his daughter.