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'Monster Mash' was a monster hit

‘Monster Mash’ was a monster hit

Oct. 31, 1987: On the 25th anniversary of the release of the classic Halloween song “Monster Mash,” creator Bobby Pickett poses for Los Angeles Times photographer Robert Gabriel at the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Times staff writer John Voland reported on the observance:

Let Bobby (Boris) Pickett – who parlayed a passable Boris Karloff impression into a classic novelty tune, “The Monster Mash” – stand as an example of a one-hit songwriter who doesn’t really mind the tag.

“To be honest, I am still shocked that song [celebrating its 25th anniversary today] has lasted as long as it has,” Pickett said. “For years I talked like I knew it was going to be a smash hit – I must have picked up that attitude up from Gary Paxon [who produced the novelty tune].  But nowadays, it’s like, ‘Yeah, isn’t that something?’ “

It is something that an offbeat, very seasonal ditty like “Monster Mash” should sell more than 4 million copies and resurface on the radio every All Hallow’s Eve. The tune – according to Pickett, recorded in about four hours in a dingy Hollywood studio with an absolute minimum of production fuss – hit No. 1 in 1962, and a rerecorded, slightly updated “Monster Mash” hit the Top 10 in 1973.

“For a while I wondered if I could do any other tune after ‘Mash,’ ” said Pickett, now 49. “I did a follow-up ['Monsters Holiday,' a yuletide 'Monster Mash'] that did fair, but after that it seemed less important. I got interested in other things.” These days, Pickett lives in West Hollywood and is a true industry hyphenate: actor-screenwriter.

This photo by Gabriel was later used with this 2007 Times obituary on Pickett. Times staff writer Valerie J. Nelson wrote in the obituary:

Not only did “Monster Mash” catch on in a flash, its refrain – accompanied by Pickett’s spirited Karloff impression – was also destined to get stuck in the minds of generations to come:

He did the mash.
He did the monster mash.
The monster mash,
It was a graveyard smash.

Now that I have finished this post, I have “Monster Mash” stuck in my head.

Do you?

Have a happy Halloween!

scott.harrison@latimes.com

Follow Scott Harrison on Twitter and Google+

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1 Comment

  1. October 31, 2013, 11:02 pm

    A good friend of mine, Mel Taylor was the drummer on this tune. He went on to his own fame & fortune as the drummer for The Ventures; the best selling instrumental rock band of all time. Sadly, Mel has also passed away.

    By: nashvilleaudioguy

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