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On this day in music history: October 20, 1962 - "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. Written by Bobby Pickett and Leonard Capizzi, it will be the biggest hit for the singer and songwriter from Somerville, MA. The novelty classic will be recorded in the garage studio of producer/label owner Gary S. Paxton, and also features musician Leon Russell on piano. The record will be rejected by several labels before Paxton works out a distribution deal with London Records and releases it on his own Garpax label. The song is an immediate hit upon its release. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on September 8, 1962, it will rocket to the top of the chart just six weeks later. On its initial release in the UK, the BBC will actually ban the record for being "too morbid," though it will later peak at #3 on its re-release in 1973. "Monster Mash" will also make chart history as the only single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 three separate times. After its first run in 1962, it will peak at #91 in September of 1970. The single will actually make the top 10 a second time, peaking at #10 in August of 1973. "Monster Mash" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 20, 1977 - A chartered plane carrying members of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd and their crew crashes into a swamp near Gillsburg, MS. The band is on tour in support of its latest album Street Survivors, released just three days before. The Convair CV-300 plane is in route from Greenville, SC to Baton Rouge, LA when it runs out of fuel and crashes into a heavily wooded area. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, singer Cassie Gaines (Steve’s older sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary, and co-pilot William Gray are all killed on impact. The other members of the band and crew will all sustain serious injuries from the crash. Drummer Artimus Pyle and two members of the road crew will be able to climb from the wreckage and get help for the remaining survivors. The cause of the plane crash will be determined to have been caused by a malfunctioning ignition device on one of the engines and by pilot error when the pilots accidentally dump the remaining fuel instead of transferring it to the still working engine. After the accident, the band's label MCA Records will quickly withdraw the original cover artwork of Street Survivors, which shows the band surrounded by flames. The background will be airbrushed black on all subsequent repressings until it is reissued on CD when the original artwork is restored. Lynyrd Skynyrd will not perform again for ten years, until the surviving members reform the band in 1987, with Ronnie’s younger brother Johnny Van Zant taking over as lead vocalist.