Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bobby Pickett's Monster Mash

Posted by T. Ballard Lesemann on Wed, Oct 31, 2007 at 3:59 PM

To many, the ultimate, most authentic rock ’n’ roll mash-up of Halloween themes and music goes back to 1962, when the late Bobby “Boris” Pickett scored a hit with the ghoulish novelty tune “Monster Mash” — a bouncing, hand-clappy rave-up containing all the right ingredients: spooky settings, scary creatures, vampires, graveyards, zombies, werewolves, mad scientists … and references to popular horror film characters.

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Musically, the tune is basically a rip-off of “Little Darling,” a doo-wop hit for The Diamonds, written by Maurice Williams (an S.C. native), but played slower with a lazier, less-Latin beat. With Pickett singing in deep-tone Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi voices — and a gaggle of backup singers who sound like monster extras on Sesame Street — the song touches on a classic horror flick scenario: the resurrection of a Frankenstein-style monster who rises from a slab. Lyrically, the scary scene takes a comedic turn as he quickly sparks a new dance craze — The Mash. It caught on in a flash. It was a graveyard smash. The party scene that developed included, among other characters, Dracula and his son (who knew he had a son?).

Monster Mash” went to number one on the pop charts over 40 years ago and has proven its mettle as a classic hit that will not die. Like the best elements of a good Halloween night, it’s all at once a little creepy, very funny, slightly silly, and uniquely American.

Pickett died at the age of 69 on April 25, 2007 in Los Angeles, due to complications from leukemia. Here's to the Mash.


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