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Monster Mash Singer Dead (Apr 27, 2007)

Wednesday night, we lost a novelty singer whose signature song still gets played on a smattering few radio stations every Halloween.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett did a dead-on impression of his 1962 hit "Monster Mash", which hit #1 on the Billboard chart that year, charted again in August of 1970, and charted again in 1973 when it was rereleased on an LP of his.

Pickett was dubbed "The Guy Lombardo of Halloween" because every Halloween, like the late Lombardo was to New Year's Eve, his one-hit wonder often got played around Halloween, though no mention of the holiday was mentioned in the lyrics of the song.

The song was used in a 60's puppet animation feature "Mad Monster Party", which used to get played on KTTV 11 for a few years in the 70s.

The resurrections were appropriate for a song where Pickett gravely intoned the forever-stuck-in-your-head chorus: "He did the monster mash. ... It was a graveyard smash."

Dr. Demento, whose long-running program celebrates offbeat tunes, was quoted, "It's certainly the biggest Halloween song of all time." Last year, he interviewed Pickett, who said he maintained a sense of humor about his singular success: "As he loved to say at oldies shows, 'And now I'm going to do a medley of my hit.' "

The recording, done in a couple of hours, featured a then-unknown piano player named Leon Russell and a backing band christened The Crypt-Kickers. It was rejected by four major labels before Gary Paxton, lead singer on the Hollywood Argyles' novelty hit "Alley Oop," released "Monster Mash" on his own label.

Pickett's follow-up holiday song, "Monster's Holiday," reached No. 30 in December 1962. That obscure song also gets airplay on a few oldies radio stations and Internet-based comedy music radio stations.

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