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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.
|Occupation(s)||Singer, writer, comedian|
Robert George Pickett (February 11, 1938 – April 25, 2007), known also by the 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 family lived in the Winter Hill neighborhood and he attended Somerville High School. 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 Transylvanian Twist?"). Every major record label declined the song, but after hearing it, 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 number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks before Halloween in 1962. It was styled as being by "Bobby 'Boris' Pickett And The Crypt-Kickers". 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 number 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 number 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 number 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 "Monster Mash" called "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.
In 2004 and 2005, Pickett provided vocals for two Flash cartoons, "Monster Slash," and "Climate Mash", featuring new versions of his hit single. The cartoons protested inaction on the United States government's part towards deforestation and global warming.
Record label venture
In 1962, it was reported in the December 1 issue of Cashbox that Pickett along with Ned Ormand and R.B. Chris Christensen had formed Nico Records. Christensen had been a partner and professional manager in Buck Owens' Bluebook Music Publishing co. They had acquired an instrumental from the Daco label which was to be their first release. The instrumental was by The Revels of "Church Key" and "Six Pak" fame.
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 theaters around the U.S. They followed it with another musical, Frankenstein Unbound. In 1995 the co-writers of Pixar's Toy Story, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, produced a movie of it, originally entitled Frankenstein Sings, but later released in the U.S. as 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 a segment of The Long Hot Summer, with Roy Thinnes and Nancy Malone, on January 26, 1966.
In 2005, Pickett published his autobiography through Trafford Publishing, titled 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, titled Don't Touch That Dial.
Pickett appeared in films in several classic 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.
For many years, Pickett performed for "The Lost 45s with Barry Scott" Halloween show in the Boston area.
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.
- "Gary James' Interview With Bobby "Boris" Pickett". Classicbands.com. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
- Guha, Auditi (October 31, 2007). "Bobby "Boris" Pickett remembered on our first Halloween without him". Journal Star. Peoria, Ill. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
- 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 978-0214204807.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 426. ISBN 978-1904994008.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. ≠333. ISBN 978-0214204807.
- "Pickett A Partner In New Disk Firm". Cashbox. December 1, 1962. p. 30B.
- Sachs, Bill (December 26, 1960). "Folk Talent and Tunes". Billboard. p. 36.
- Marcus, Greil (20 October 2015). Real Life Rock: The Complete Top Ten Columns, 1986-2014. p. 403. ISBN 9780300218596. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
9. The Exiles, directed by Kent McKenzie (Milestone) and Revels, Intoxica! (Sundazed)
- "'Monster Mash' Singer Bobby 'Boris' Pickett Dies at 69". Fox News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2013-08-15. 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