Eagle Feathers #11 – It was a graveyard smash
By Bob (Monty) Doherty
The “fiftieth” anniversary is also known as the Gold Anniversary, and if there ever was a golden song to come out of Somerville, it was The Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. For fifty years, The Monster Mash has delighted those who enjoy celebrating Halloween and has become legendary, forever securing a spot in American pop culture.
Bobby Pickett was born on February 11, 1938, in Somerville, MA, and grew up in Winter Hill. He attended Somerville High School and was the captain of the basketball team.
His father managed a movie theater and, as a result, Bobby developed a love for movies and dreamed of someday becoming a famous actor.
When he turned 21, he moved to Hollywood, California, to pursue his dream. While his pursuit of acting never quite panned out, he did belong to a rock band. Ever since he was young, Bobby did a great Boris Karloff impression, and he would do this jokingly between songs they played. His friends took his impression more seriously than Bobby did, and they convinced him to create a song that displayed his talent. They recorded The Monster Mash in one take and took it to numerous studios, getting rejected each time. Finally, they found an agent who was able to get one hundred copies of the record pressed and distributed.
The rest is history. It caught on immediately and the song reached #1 on the Billboard top 100 on October 20, 1962. It has since charted on the American Billboard 100 three more times including December of 1962, May of 1963, August of 1970, and hit #60 on the British charts as recently as November of 2008.
These days, the song can be found on YouTube in many different versions because it has been covered by such prominent artists as The Beach Boys, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, The Misfits, Mannheim Steamroller, and The Smashing Pumpkins.
So while Bobby Pickett never made a smash in the movie business, he mashed his way into the annals of both Somerville and American history.