"(The) Monster Mash" is a 1962 novelty song and the best known song by Bobby "Boris" Pickett. Pickett was an aspiring actor who sang with a band called "Darren Bailes and the Wolf Eaters" at night while going to auditions during the day. One night, while performing with his band, Pickett did a monologue in imitation of horror movie actor Boris Karloff in the middle of a song (some sources have identified the song as a rendition of The Diamonds' "Little Darlin'"). The audience loved it and a member of the band encouraged Pickett to do more with the Karloff imitation.
Pickett composed "Monster Mash" and recorded it with Gary Paxton, Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae and Rickie Page, credited as "The Cryptkickers". This song was partially inspired by Paxton's earlier novelty hit "Alley Oop", as well as by the Mashed Potato dance craze of the era.
The song is narrated by a mad scientist whose monster, late one evening, rises from a slab to perform a new dance. The dance becomes a hit when the scientist throws a party for other monsters. The producers came up with several low-budget, but effective sound effects for the recording. For example, the sound of a coffin opening was imitated by a rusty nail being pulled out of a board. The sound of a cauldron bubbling was actually water being bubbled through a straw and the chains rattling was simply chains being dropped on a tile floor. Pickett also impersonated the horror actor Bela Lugosi when he said, "What ever happened to my Transylvania Twist?"
On October 20, 1962, eight weeks after it was recorded, "Monster Mash" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart just in time for Halloween. It has been a perennial holiday favorite ever since. The single was re-released twice, the first re-release was in 1970, and the second re-release resulted in the single peaking at #10 in early-May, 1973. The song remains a staple on oldies radio.
"Monster's Holiday", a Christmas-themed follow up, was released in December 1962 and peaked at #30 on the Billboard chart. The tune was penned by the renowned novelty song composer, Paul 'Oops! upside ya head' Harrison. Harrison would later go on to write classics such as "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini".
Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers charted with Monster Mash in the UK in 1973. The BBC banned the song in 1962 on the grounds that it was "too morbid".
In 2005, "Climate Mash", a version with re-written lyrics about global warming and new vocals by Pickett, was released on the Internet by the organization Clear the Air. "Monster Mash" was written by Pickett and Leonard Capizzi.
* In the game Gahan Wilson's The Ultimate Haunted House.
* A popular student greasy spoon establishment known as Monster Mash (which exclusively serves bangers and mash) can be found in Edinburgh.
* It is played twice during the Simpsons episode "I Love Lisa", being played each time erroneously by an incompetent DJ on an inappropriate holiday, first Valentine's Day, then Presidents' Day.
* In an episode of Cheers where they rigged the jukebox to loop the song.
* In the song "Limbo" by Rush on the 1996 album Test for Echo.
* The song was covered by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band on the ITV childrens programme Do Not Adjust Your Set
* In 1995, a movie musical called Monster Mash: The Movie, written in the spirit of the song and starring Bobby Pickett himself, was produced.
* Boris Karloff was so taken with the song that he performed it himself on a 1965 episode of Shindig.
* Punk Rock band the Misfits have released two covers of this song. Once in 1999 as a single and once redone again in 2003 on their album Project 1950, an all 1950's era cover album.
* In the series Futurama, Philip J. Fry refers to sexual intercourse as "The Horizontal Monster Mash", in the episode "Spanish Fry".
* Mike Tyson appeared with Bobby Brown on Jimmy Kimmel Live, performing a duet of the song.
* In a 2001 episode of "Jarret's Room" on Saturday Night Live, played repeatedly by DJ Jonathan Feinstein (Seth Meyers).
* Parts sung by Becky Ann Baker as Jean Weir in the TV-series Freaks and Geeks.
* The Reggae Band The Toyes have recorded a marijuna-themed parody of this song called "Monster Hash" on their 1996 Eponymous Debut Album.
* It was also the name of a children's game in the 1980s.