Robert George Pickett was born in Somerville, Massachusetts. His father was a theater manager, and as a 9-year-old he watched many horror films. He would later incorporate impressions of them in his Hollywood, California nightclub act in 1959.
Pickett co-wrote "Monster Mash" with Leonard Capizzi in May 1962. The song was a spoof on the dance crazes popular at the time, including the Twist and the Mashed Potato, which inspired the title.
The song featured Pickett's impersonations of veteran horror stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi (the latter with the line "Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?") It was passed on by every major record label, but after hearing the song, Gary S. Paxton agreed to produce and engineer it.
Among the musicians who played on it was pianist Leon Russell.
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Issued on Paxton's Garpax Records, the single became a million seller, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks before Halloween in 1962. It was styled as being by "Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers."
The record hit the U.S. charts twice, in August 1970, and again in May 1973, when it reached the #10 spot. In Britain it took until October 1973 for the tune to become popular, peaking at #3 in the UK Singles Chart. For the second time, the record sold over one million copies.
The tune remains a Halloween perennial on radio and on iTunes. A Christmas-themed follow-up, "Monster's Holiday," was also released in 1962 and reached #30 in December that year. This was followed by further monster-themed recordings such as the album The Original Monster Mash and such singles as "Werewolf Watusi" and "The Monster Swim". Another of Pickett's songs, "Graduation Day", made #80 in June 1963.
In 1975 Pickett recorded a novelty spoof on Star Trek called "Star Drek" with Peter Ferrara, again performing some of the various voices, which was played on Dr. Demento's radio show for many years. He also performed a duet with Ferrara in 1976 titled "King Kong (Your Song)" spoofing the movie by the same name that was released that year.
In the early 1980's a musical "sequel" to "The Monster Mash" called "The Monster Rap," which featured Bobby teaching the creature to speak through "rapping." Though not nearly as popular as the original "Monster Mash" it once again found a reasonable following with the Dr. Demento fanbase.
In 1993 Pickett wrote and performed "It's Alive," another sequel of sorts to the original "Mash" song, but did not chart, but was played occasionally on the Demento show.
In October 2005, Pickett protested inaction on the United States government's part towards global warming by releasing "Climate Mash," a new version of his hit single.
In December 2006, Pickett covered the hit song by Yukmouth (featuring Messy Marv) titled "Fuckin' Wit Grapes," but the recording tapes of those sessions were subsequently 'lost.'
In 1967, Pickett and television author Sheldon Allman wrote the musical I'm Sorry the Bridge Is Out, You'll Have to Spend the Night. It has been produced by local theatres around the USA. They followed it up later with another musical, Frankenstein Unbound.
In 1995 the co-writers of Disney's Toy Story, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolov, produced a movie of it, originally entitled Frankenstein Sings, but later released in the US under Monster Mash the Movie. In 2005 Pickett published his autobiography through Trafford Publishing. It was called Monster Mash: Half Dead in Hollywood.
Pickett died at the age of 69 on April 25, 2007 in Los Angeles, California, due to complications from leukemia.