From the Archives: ‘Monster Mash’ was a monster hit

Oct. 31, 1987: "Monster Mash" creator Bobby Pickett during an appearance at the Hollywood Wax Museum.
(Robert Gabriel / Los Angeles Times)

On the 25th anniversary of the release of the classic Halloween song “Monster Mash,” creator Bobby Pickett posed for photographer Robert Gabriel.

Times staff writer John Voland reported on the observance at the Hollywood Wax Museum:

Let Bobby (Boris) Pickett – who parlayed a passable Boris Karloff impression into a classic novelty tune, “The Monster Mash” – stand as an example of a one-hit songwriter who doesn’t really mind the tag.

“To be honest, I am still shocked that song [celebrating its 25th anniversary today] has lasted as long as it has,” Pickett said. “For years I talked like I knew it was going to be a smash hit – I must have picked up that attitude up from Gary Paxon [who produced the novelty tune]. But nowadays, it’s like, ‘Yeah, isn’t that something?’”


It is something that an offbeat, very seasonal ditty like “Monster Mash” should sell more than 4 million copies and resurface on the radio every All Hallow’s Eve. The tune – according to Pickett, recorded in about four hours in a dingy Hollywood studio with an absolute minimum of production fuss – hit No. 1 in 1962, and a rerecorded, slightly updated “Monster Mash” hit the Top 10 in 1973.

“For a while I wondered if I could do any other tune after ‘Mash,’ ” said Pickett, now 49. “I did a follow-up [‘Monsters Holiday,’ a yuletide ‘Monster Mash’] that did fair, but after that it seemed less important. I got interested in other things.” …

Voland’s full story is online.

This photo by Gabriel later ran with The Times’ 2007 obituary of Pickett by Valerie J. Nelson:


Not only did “Monster Mash” catch on in a flash, its refrain – accompanied by Pickett’s spirited Karloff impression – was also destined to get stuck in the minds of generations to come:

(He did the mash.)

He did the monster mash.

(The monster mash.)


It was a graveyard smash. ...

Now that I have finished this post, I have “Monster Mash” stuck in my head.

Do you?

Have a happy Halloween!


Scott Harrison

This post was originally published on Oct. 30, 2011.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here