We hear it every year, but to his family, “Monster Mash” is more than a Halloween song. It is a beautiful way in which Pickett continues to live on.
This was his favorite holiday and even six months after his death, no Halloween is quite complete without his “graveyard smash."
Ever since the song topped the charts in 1962, its Somerville co-creator and vocalist Bobby “Boris” Pickett has been hailed as the Guy Lombardo of Halloween and “Monster Mash” has become the national anthem of this holiday.
We hear it every year but to his family, “Monster Mash” is more than a Halloween song. It is a beautiful way in which Pickett continues to live on.
The Somerville High School graduate died earlier this year. He was 69.
“Not every child gets to hear their dad on the radio every year. I feel blessed,” said Nancy Huus, Pickett’s daughter who found her dad almost exactly 10 years ago, around another Halloween.
Huus said she spent many years looking for her birth parents after she was put up for adoption. She finally located him a week before Halloween a decade ago. “It was love at first sight,” she recalled. “We had so much in common instantly.”
Pickett’s sister Lynda S. Proctor said she remembers the call. When Pickett hung up he said that he knew she was someone special the minute he heard her voice.
The Pickett family grew up in Winter Hill, and Bobby Pickett attended Somerville High. Although they later moved out, they were always proud to come from Somerville.
“It’s still a part of my life. I tell people I’m from Somerville,” said Proctor who now lives in Boulder City, Nevada.
Pickett passed away on April 25 this year and both women feel the loss deeply.
“He was kind and he had a great sense of humor,” said Huus who, like many others, grew up listening to the “Monster Mash” record on a turntable and remembers the orange label perfectly. So when she found out the singer was her father, it was almost surreal.
“He became one of my dearest friends and immediately jumped into being a father and a grandfather,” she said. “We miss him so much. This Halloween will be really different without him. It’s fortunate his song lives on.”
“He was always full of fun and comical,” said sister Proctor who recalled Pickett helping them put up little shows in their garage as kids. “The girls in Somerville were always knocking on our door – he was very handsome.”
He always loved movies, especially horror, and his Karlovian imitation from Dracula was born when Pickett was 9. He always had a thing for celebrities and headed to Hollywood soon after school. There, he and and friend Lenny Capizzi wrote a song in two hours and incorporated the Boris Karloff impression into music.
They took the song to Gary Paxton, the former lead singer on "Alley Oop" and "Flip" of Skip & Flip, who at the time was one of the hottest young record producers in Hollywood. He coined the name of Bobby Boris Pickett and The Cryptkickers for the label credit, and “Monster Mash” was born.
It topped the charts on Oct. 20, 1962. It re-entered the Hot 100 eight years later, on August 29, 1970, and peaked at 91. Almost three years after that, on May 5, 1973, it made a third re-entry, and this time went all the way to number 10.
For 46 years since it was created, Pickett’s goulish glee club has risen annually from the crypt of Golden Oldies with a fleeting bit of airplay for the ghosts, goblins and spirits of Allhallows Eve. It won three gold records, has sold about 4 million copies and is one of the most popular novelty records of all time.
“Monster Mash” has been heard on every top 40 and oldies station, popular television shows like "The Simpsons," "Cheers," "Roseanne" and "Doogie Howser," not to mention its use in several movies including “Halloween III” and “Sweetheart's Dance.”
So this year when you mash to the Transylvania Twist or cheer for Dracula, Igor or the Wolf Man, take a moment to think of Bobby Pickett.