Thursday, April 26, 2007

RIP Bobby Boris Pickett

NEW YORK — "He does the "Monster Mash" no more.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett, whose dead-on Boris Karloff impression propelled the Halloween anthem to the top of the charts in 1962, making him one of pop music's most enduring one-hit wonders, has died of leukemia. He was 69.

Pickett, dubbed "The Guy Lombardo of Halloween," died Wednesday night at the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital, said his longtime manager, Stuart Hersh. His daughter, Nancy, and his sister, Lynda, were at Pickett's bedside.

"Monster Mash" hit the Billboard chart three times: when it debuted in 1962, reaching No. 1 the week before Halloween; again in August 1970, and for a third time in May 1973. 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."

Out from his coffin Drac's voice did ring

Seems he was trouble by, just one thing

He opened the lid and shook his fist, and said

Vat ever happened to my Transylvania Tvist?

"Lenny sat down at the piano and began futzing with various four-chord progressions and I stood next to the piano. Like me, Lenny was a major horror movie fan from childhood. He loved Bela Lugosi as Dracula. He knew I had the Boris Karloff voice pretty nailed, although in reptrospect, I feel that what I actually had was a very cartoonish rendition of that wonderful actor's voice. In any case, we'd both seen how the audiences had loved it when I was with the group and we'd sing “Little Darlin'” and I did the monologue in the middle of the song in Boris's voice. We agreed that the Karloff voice was the most obvious one to tell the story. And what was the story?

“Well,” Lenny suggested, “Maybe the Frankenstein monster should start a dance craze.”

“That's it!” I said."

Bobby Pickett was one of the reasons, Paul Winchell and Frank Gorshin the others, that I incessantly practiced impersonations as a lad.Good on ya, Bobby. Save us a seat.

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