Even among one-hit wonders, Bobby “Boris” Pickett was singular. The novelty musician gave us “Monster Mash”—the only song that’s been able to do for Halloween what Christmas music does for the winter holidays. He wrote dozens of follow-ups, including “Monster’s Holiday” and “Monster Rap,” but none has left its mark on the culture like his original graveyard smash. Many people who listen to the hit year after year don’t even know what the singer looked like. As you can see from the video above, Bobby Pickett didn’t sport a lab coat or a hunchback, but his animated performance made up for his deceptively normal appearance.
In 1964 Pickett appeared on American Bandstand, a musical variety show that hosted some of the most popular musicians of the day from the 1950s through the ’80s. “Monster Mash” was two years old at that point and had already topped the Billboard charts.
Though it was written for the radio, Pickett proved that the single is just as entertaining live. After an introduction from host Dick Clark, the singer contorts his face into expressions that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie. One of the gimmicks of the song is the cameos from various monsters, and Pickett has no trouble transitioning between characters.
Despite sounding like a product of its time, the parody tune hasn’t fallen out of favor with the public over the decades. It re-entered the Billboard charts during the 2021 Halloween season nearly 60 years after its release. As for the artist behind the seasonal song, Bobby Pickett kept performing up to his death in 2006 at age 69.