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What is the Story Behind Bobby Pickett’s Song “Monster Mash”?

Bobby Boris Pickett was an actor and a singer, most known for his Halloween-themed one-hit-wonder Monster Mash. Even from the start, it quickly topped the charts. Decades after, it remains to be a cult favorite among, returning year after year for Halloween. 

Bobby Pickett had no interest in writing the Monster Mash from the start, but when his agent died, he agreed and eventually released the song, topping the charts numerous times after being rejected by almost all major record labels.

Who is Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett?

Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett, most recognized for his hit Halloween-themed song the Monster Mash, was born on February 11, 1938, in Somerville, Massachusetts, as Robert George Pickett. Aligned with his most famous hit song, Bobby Pickett developed his love for the genre of horror due to frequent exposure from his father’s job as a cinema manager.

After finishing his high school graduation, Bobby Pickett admitted himself to the United States Army Signal Corps, wherein he spent three years of his life in Korea. Soon after his discharge in the US Army Corps, he set off to Hollywood to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, initially wanting to do stand-up comedy and movies; even then, his first act at a nightclub was a horror film shtick.

In 1961, he became a part of The Cordials, a harmonic singing group that usually focused on the doo-wop singing style. In some routines, Bobby Pickett would make their routine more entertaining by intonating a specific section of Little Darlin’ in his known Karloff voice. (Source: The Guardian)

They were forming a singing group and I said I had experience. I started singing with them and one of the tunes we did was ‘Little Darlin.’ In the middle of that is a monologue, so I asked the leader if I could do it as Boris Karloff. Every time, the audience cracked up.

Bobby Pickett

Bobby Pickett then continued on to be both an actor and a singer. And although he consistently released music, most of them didn’t succeed, except for the dubbed one-hit-wonder Monster Mash that rose to fame whenever Halloween came. (Source: People)

He Did the Mash, the Monster Mash!

Monster Mash established the legacy of Bobby Pickett as a musician. But as every successful hit contains an eventful backstory, one must ask:  What is the story behind Monster Mash? 

The origins of Monster Mash started when Bobby Pickett would occasionally do the voice imitation of well-known horror actor Boris Karloff when The Cordials performed Little Darlin’. Fellow The Cordials member and a fan of horror films Lenny Capizzi stated that Pickett’s impression of Karloff can stand alone as a full-length song.

Initially, Pickett declined the thought as he sees himself as a serious actor. What sparked his consideration of Capizzi’s idea was the tragic death of his acting agent. He soon agreed with Capizzi’s suggestion, and off they went to write a song that would eventually be internally known as Monster Mash, taking inspiration from the trending dance move Mashed Potato and the Alley Oop song. (Source: NME

Monster Mash was recorded in less than thirty minutes with Gary Paxton, Leon Russell, Johnny MacRae, Rickie Page, and Teddy Barg. The song eventually became a hit before Halloween after four music labels rejected the track, hitting number one upon its release.

The song entered the United States music charts twice, both in 1970 and 1973, peaking at the number 3 rank in the United Kingdom in the latter year. (Source: Smooth Radio)

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