Bobby “Boris” Pickett

Just tell them BORIS SENT YOU!

It had a white label.  At least that’s how I remember it.

My mother bought our earliest 45s.  She got a kick out of "Big Girls Don’t Cry", "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" and "Purple People Eater".  But I bought "Loco-Motion" and "Monster Mash".

It was before the Beatles.  But we were already addicted to radio.  I guess we found the stations when we twisted the dial looking for baseball games.

77 WABC was my station.  Oh, the hipper kids listened to 1010 WINS.  And WMCA was a city thing.  But I was positively mainstream.  It feels good to be a member of the group.  And on some level, I truly believed Bruce Morrow was my cousin.  And I was buddies with Dan Ingram and Scott Muni too!

Buying a 45 wasn’t a casual thing.  You NEEDED IT!  One didn’t debate whether it had lasting value, whether you’d listen to it in two years, you needed it NOW!  It was an itch that needed to be scratched.

And when one got home from the store, one extracted that thirty cent piece of vinyl from its thin paper sleeve and dropped it onto a contraption that looked positively primitive.  Not a turntable, but a RECORD PLAYER!  With a heavy tonearm, upon which you’d place dimes, pennies, SOMETIMES EVEN QUARTERS, to prevent records from skipping.

And you wouldn’t listen from across the room, but close nearby.  Close enough that you could pick up the tonearm to listen to the record again.  And again.  And AGAIN!

Oh, eventually you gave the flip side a spin, but it was almost always crap.  But you didn’t care, because it was about the TRACK!

Why is "Monster Mash" such a great record?

Oh, there’s the lyrics, the Boris Karloff imitation, but what infatuates one, what keeps you coming back, is the GROOVE!

Written and cut almost instantly, "Monster Mash" is a masterpiece.  And will last longer than every Mariah Carey track ever cut.  It was a lark, not over-contemplated.  It’s got the genius of the early sixties in the grooves.  When it wasn’t for tomorrow, but just today.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett might be gone, but his record will live on.

Funny, if you contemplate legendary status, you don’t achieve it.  It’s only when you throw off restraint, do what feels good unrestricted, when pure inspiration is allowed to flourish, that you create something that reverberates forever.

I’m listening to "Monster Mash" right now.  Over and over again, just like back in ’62.  When I’d just entered the fifth grade.  When I took the single to Keith’s house, and listened to it over and over while lying on his floor with the radiant heat.  Funny how when you hear these records you’re not reminded of a time back when, you’re jetted instantly right back to those days, they COME ALIVE!

Excuse me while I resonate with who I used to be.  A boy whose life was changed when he heard a sound…

2 Responses to Bobby “Boris” Pickett »»


Comments

  1. Comment by Brian Ray | 2007/04/28 at 22:25:36

    I am also one of those kids who’s life, like yours, was forever changed when he heard a sound.. My sister Jean, (1/2 of Verve Forecast’s ‘Jim & Jean’) played me her early Elvis, Everly Bros., Teddy Bears and Little Richard 45′s, and at the age of three knew exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up… I got very lucky and did just that.

    Bobby "Boris" Pickett gave me my first break in the biz when
    as a teenager I went on tour with him, doing the "Monster Mash", "Me and My Mummy" and a number of other great novelty twist rockers at the Six Flags amusement parks.. Man, I had really made the big time! I did my own ghoul make-up and we performed as Bobby Boris Pickett and The Crypt Kicker Five (as named in the last verse of his song) … even though there at least 6 of us.

    One of the last shows we did together was ironically at a benefit show to help defray the legal bills for one Phil Kaufman, yes, that Phil Kaufman (of Gram Parsons in Joshua Tree fame)… legal bills for… wait for it…. Crypt Kicking Gram’s casket!

    It was Phil who took me in after that day and introduced me to Etta James, with whom I worked for 14 years after.

    All I can say is without Bobby Pickett’s kindness and support for a green teenage toe headed guitarist I would not have met Etta… I might not be touring in my current band (with Paul McCartney) and life would be very very different today.

    Bobby was very funny, very smart and as gentle a person as you would ever want to meet. The world will miss him. I will miss him. He has great book, just released called, "Monster Mash, half dead in Hollywood" and it is full of the best stories from a life-loving maverick in the biz when it was young.

    It caught on in a flash…

    best,
    Brian Ray

  2. Comment by Mark Shimmel | 2007/04/28 at 22:25:51

    I remember several years ago I ran into Bob Greenberg at a funeral and we talked golf. He told me "Boris" was working as the starter at that little nine hole on Rose Ave in Santa Monica. Bob told me what a sweet man he was (How’s Ahmet? was his first question when he recognized Bob) __Great record. Especially if you grew up with Million Dollar Movie.


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