Just in time for Halloween! This week’s Pop Archaeology selection is probably the most famous “monster” song of all-time, “The Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt Kickers.
Released in the late summer of 1962, the song was released as a single and on an album containing some other monster-themed tunes. It moved up the charts to take the #1 spot for the week before Halloween. It’s been an annual favorite ever since.
Bobby Pickett wanted to be an actor and sang with a group called The Cordials as a sideline. He jokingly did a Boris Karloff impression and the audience liked it. He and fellow band mate Lenny Capizzi penned the tune that summer.
One great piece of rock trivia is that the piano player on the recording is none other than Leon Russell.
Leon – then and now
The song was re-released a few times over the years and was even banned by the killjoys over at the BBC in 1962 for being “too morbid”. Big surprise…
The song has been covered by a lot of people with decidedly mixed results. In addition to versions from horror celebrities like Vincent Price and Boris Karloff, the song was subjected to treatment from Alvin and The Chipmunks and later punk bands like The Misfits.
The song was really a no-brainer for a horror-punk band like The Misfits and they had some moderate success with it as part of their cover album release Project 1950. Marky Ramone, of The Ramones (the only living member of The Ramones in the R&RHoF is the drummer here).
Although the retro-purist in my soul likes Bobby’s 1962 version, I need to give a nod to The Misfits version. It rocks and is worth a listen even if just for Marky’s incredible drumming.