Robert George Pickett (February 11, 1938 – April 25, 2007) was an American singer who found fame under the name Bobby "Boris" Pickett. He was known for co-writing and performing the 1962 hit novelty song, "Monster Mash".1
Pickett was born in Somerville, Massachusetts.2 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, California nightclub act in 1959. Pickett was a United States Army veteran, who served in Korea.
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 1962.3 It was styled as being by "Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & 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 #3 in the UK Singles Chart.4 For the second time, the record sold over one million copies.5 The tune remains a Halloween perennial on radio and on iTunes. A Christmas-themed follow-up, "Monster's Holiday," was also released in 1962 and reached #30 in December that year. 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". Another of Pickett's songs, "Graduation Day", made #80 in June 1963.
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," which featured Bobby 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, but did not chart, but was played occasionally on the Demento show.
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 USA. 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.
Pickett appeared in several classic film genres: beach movie, "It's a Bikini World" (1967); biker, "Chrome and Hot Leather" (1971); horror, "Deathmaster (1972).
Pickett died at the age of 69 on April 25, 2007, in Los Angeles, California, due to complications from leukemia. His daughter Nancy Huus was at his side when he died. He left two grandchildren, Jordan Huus and Olivia Huus.67 The May 13, 2007 episode of the Dr. Demento show, featured a documentary retrospective of Pickett's work.
- "Bobby Pickett, 69; Scored 'Monster' Hit". New York Times. April 27, 2007. "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."
- 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.
- Fox News: 'Monster Mash' Singer Bobby 'Boris' Pickett Dies at 69
- CNN.com: 'Monster Mash' singer dead at 69
- Official site
- Official MySpace site
- 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.
- Bobby Pickett at the Internet Movie Database
- Classicbands.com entry on Bobby "Boris" Pickett
- Bobby "Boris Pickett" performing Monster Mash - Halloween 2005
- A parody of Monster Mash incorporating a global climate change theme
- Interview with Bobby Pickett, June 18, 2003; author: Linda Alexander