Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett (And The Crypt-Kickers) recorded the US number 1 ‘Monster Mash’ in 1962, a song which has remained alive for decades due to perennial radio airplay each Halloween. Pickett moved to Los Angeles in 1961, upon his release from military service, hoping to become an actor. Instead, he joined a singing group called the Cordials. Pickett, an avowed fan of actor Boris Karloff, worked an impression of the horror film star into some of the group’s songs and he and the Cordials’ Leonard Capizzi wrote ‘Monster Mash’ to cash in on the dance craze launched by Dee Dee Sharp’s ‘Mashed Potato Time’ hit of 1962. Pickett was signed to Gary S. Paxton’s Garpax label and ‘Monster Mash’ (featuring a young Leon Russell on piano) worked its way to the top of the charts in time for Halloween 1962. The record later returned to the US charts twice, this time on Parrot Records, reaching number 91 in 1970 and then hitting the Top 10 for a second time three years later. It was not until 1973 that the song made any significant impact upon the UK chart, when it reached number 3 in September. It was also successfully covered by the UK act the Bonzo Bog Doo-Dah Band. In 2004, Pickett rewrote the lyrics to the song to protest President George W. Bush’s environmental policies.
Pickett had two other minor US chart singles in 1962-63, including the Top 30 ‘Monster’s Holiday’, but he is indelibly linked with the classic novelty number. He also enjoyed a career in Hollywood with walk-on parts in numerous B-movies. Pickett died of leukemia in 2007.