Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers

Robert George Pickett 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”.

Pickett was born in Somerville, Massachusetts.  His father was a theater manager, and as a 9-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.

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.The May 13, 2007 episode of the Dr. Demento show, featured a documentary retrospective of Pickett’s work.

Monster Mash

Pickett was an aspiring actor who sang with a band called The Cordials at night while going to auditions during the day. One night, while performing with his band, Pickett did a monologue in imitation of horror movie actor Boris Karloff while performing The Diamonds’, “Little Darlin’”. The audience loved it and fellow band member Lenny Capizzi encouraged Pickett to do more with the Karloff imitation.

Pickett and Capizzi composed “Monster Mash” and recorded it with Gary S. Paxton, Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae, Rickie Page, and Terry Berg, credited as “The Crypt-Kickers”. The song was partially inspired by Paxton’s earlier novelty hit “Alley Oop”, as well as by the Mashed Potato dance craze of the era. A variation on the Mashed Potato was danced to “Monster Mash”, in which the footwork was the same but monster gestures were made with the arms and hands. Mel Taylor, drummer for The Ventures claimed to play on this, and that fact is repeated many places, including Taylor’s N.Y. Times obituary.

The song is narrated by a mad scientist whose monster, late one evening, rises from a slab to perform a new dance. The dance becomes “the hit of the land” when the scientist throws a party for other monsters. The producers came up with several low-budget but effective sound effects for the recording. For example, the sound of a coffin opening was imitated by a rusty nail being pulled out of a board. The sound of a cauldron bubbling was actually water being bubbled through a straw, and the chains rattling were simply chains being dropped on a tile floor. Pickett also impersonated horror film actor Bela Lugosi as Dracula with the lyric “Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?”

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/bobby-boris-pickett-monster-mash.flv[/flv]

I was working in the lab late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the monster mash

From my laboratory in the castle east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
The ghouls all came from their humble abodes
To get a jolt from my electrodes

They did the mash
They did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
They did the mash
It caught on in a flash
They did the mash
They did the monster mash

The zombies were having fun
The party had just begun
The guests included Wolf Man
Dracula and his son

The scene was rockin’, all were digging the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
With their vocal group, “The Crypt-Kicker Five”

They played the mash
They played the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
They played the mash
It caught on in a flash
They played the mash
They played the monster mash

Out from his coffin, Drac’s voice did ring
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
He opened the lid and shook his fist
And said, “Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?”

It’s now the mash
It’s now the monster mash
The monster mash
And it’s a graveyard smash
It’s now the mash
It’s caught on in a flash
It’s now the mash
It’s now the monster mash

Now everything’s cool, Drac’s a part of the band
And my monster mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you

Then you can mash
Then you can monster mash
The monster mash
And do my graveyard smash
Then you can mash
You’ll catch on in a flash
Then you can mash
Then you can monster mash

  • Audio from the 1962 album, The Original Monster Mash:

(880)

About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

6 thoughts on “Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers

  1. While Leon was indeed present on the Monster Mash album, he was not present for the session of it’s famous title cut. This only came to light in recent years, as revealed by Bobby himself, not long before he passed away.

  2. I was working in the lab late one night
    When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
    For my monster from his slab began to rise
    And suddenly to my surprise

    He did the mash
    He did the monster mash
    The monster mash
    It was a graveyard smash
    He did the mash
    It caught on in a flash
    He did the mash
    He did the monster mash

    From my laboratory in the castle east
    To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
    The ghouls all came from their humble abodes
    To get a jolt from my electrodes

    They did the mash
    They did the monster mash
    The monster mash
    It was a graveyard smash
    They did the mash
    It caught on in a flash
    They did the mash
    They did the monster mash

    The zombies were having fun
    The party had just begun
    The guests included Wolf Man
    Dracula and his son

    The scene was rockin’, all were digging the sounds
    Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
    The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
    With their vocal group, “The Crypt-Kicker Five”

    They played the mash
    They played the monster mash
    The monster mash
    It was a graveyard smash
    They played the mash
    It caught on in a flash
    They played the mash
    They played the monster mash

    Out from his coffin, Drac’s voice did ring
    Seems he was troubled by just one thing
    He opened the lid and shook his fist
    And said, “Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?”

    It’s now the mash
    It’s now the monster mash
    The monster mash
    And it’s a graveyard smash
    It’s now the mash
    It’s caught on in a flash
    It’s now the mash
    It’s now the monster mash

    Now everything’s cool, Drac’s a part of the band
    And my monster mash is the hit of the land
    For you, the living, this mash was meant too
    When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you

    Then you can mash
    Then you can monster mash
    The monster mash
    And do my graveyard smash
    Then you can mash
    You’ll catch on in a flash
    Then you can mash
    Then you can monster mash

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