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Jimmie Tramel: Five things you might not know about ‘Monster Mash’ turning 55

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What’s the best Christmas song? Take your pick.What’s the best Halloween song? One stands tall above all the rest. “Monster Mash,” released in 1962, is 55 this year.In honor of the anniversary, here are five things you might not know about a song that became a graveyard smash.1. Tulsa music legend Leon Russell was a Crypt-Kicker.The song was recorded by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. Russell played piano with the Crypt-Kickers, but did he play on “the” song?Writer Jan Alan Henderson interviewed Pickett in 1995. Pickett recalled that Russell showed up late to the recording session. Pickett told Henderson that Russell played on “Monster Mash Party,” the “B” side of the “Monster Mash” single.Steve Todoroff, a go-to source for all things Russell, once sought out “Monster Mash” producer Gary S. Paxton to get to the bottom of Russell’s involvement in the song. Paxton confirmed that he, not Russell, played piano on “Monster Mash.”2. Pickett got hooked on monsters at an early age.Pickett grew up in Somerville, Massachusetts, where his father worked at a movie theater. Fringe benefit? Pickett spent a lot of time at the theater watching monster flicks. He eventually worked up impressions of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, which came in handy during the recording of “Monster Mash.”Pickett, who wrote “Monster Mash” with Leonard Capizzi, died in 2007.3. The producer of “Monster Mash” was born not far from Tulsa.Paxton (birth name: Larry Wayne Stevens) was born in Coffeyville, Kansas. According to a New York Times obituary, Paxton’s parents were unwed teens, and he was adopted by a poor couple who lived on a farm without electricity or running water.A producer, recording artist and songwriter, he started his music career in the pop duo Skip & Flip and evolved into …



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