April 29, 2007 in Nation/World

In Passing

The Spokesman-Review
 

Los Angeles

Bobby Pickett, novelty singer

Bobby “Boris” Pickett, whose Boris Karloff impersonation was immortalized on the novelty hit “Monster Mash,” which has become a Halloween perennial, has died. He was 69.

Pickett, a longtime resident of Santa Monica, died Wednesday of leukemia at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

” ‘Monster Mash’ is the biggest Halloween song of all time. The song was spooky but non-threatening, just a natural – it had a good beat and was a great, fun idea,” said Barret Hansen, better known as syndicated radio host Dr. Demento, who has been spinning offbeat tunes since the 1970s.

The catchy tune, about a mad professor who joins his latest creation to dance the “Monster Mash,” was the No. 1 song in the country on Halloween in 1962. Re-released twice more, it cracked Billboard’s top 100 in 1970 and the top 10 in 1973.

“I haven’t made millions,” Pickett told the Memphis Commercial Appeal in 1998. “But I have been paying the rent for 36 years with this one song.”

Philadelphia

James B. Davis Sr., gospel singer

James B. Davis Sr., who founded the gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds, has died. Davis, 90, died on April 17, the group said in a statement.

The Dixie Hummingbirds were introduced to a broader audience in 1973, when they collaborated with singer Paul Simon on “Loves Me (Like a Rock),” winning themselves a Grammy for their own rendition.

They toured for many years afterward at churches and music festivals.

Born June 6, 1916, in Greenville, S.C., Davis founded the Hummingbirds at age 12 and remained its leader until his retirement in 1984. The group, often referred to simply as the Birds, influenced singers from Jackie Wilson to Stevie Wonder.

Berlin

C. von Weizsaecker, physicist, pacificist

Carl Friedrich von Weizsaecker, a physicist who helped research atomic weapons for the Nazis during World War II but later dedicated his life to pacifism and philosophy, has died, his family said. He was 94.

Born in into a nationally prominent family of jurists and theologians, Weizsaecker studied physics and mathematics in Leipzig, Berlin and Goettingen, and went on to become a professor of physics.

His brother Richard served as German president from 1984 until 1994.

Weizsaecker said he worked on the atomic bomb to avoid being conscripted into the Nazi army.

He also insisted in postwar interviews that he was grateful the nuclear technology was never used by the Nazis.


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