John Zacherle was the television host of a 1950s late night horror movie program called Shock Theater on WCAU in Philadelphia. He created the character of Roland, who wore a long undertaker's coat and lived in a crypt with his wife—named My Dear—and his assistant Igor. Zacherle was a close colleague of fellow Philadelphia broadcaster Dick Clark, who nicknamed him "the Cool Ghoul," and he sometimes filled in for Clark as the emcee of American Bandstand traveling road shows. Clark was part owner of Cameo-Parkway records, and in 1958 Zacherle hooked up with the leader of the label's house band, Dave Appell—who produced and often cowrote hits like "Let's Twist Again," "Limbo Rock," "The Bristol Stomp," "The Wah Watusi," and "The Cha Cha Cha" for Cameo artists such as Chubby Checker, the Orlons, and Bobby Rydell—and recorded the single "Dinner With Drac," which became a top ten hit in 1958.

In the late 1950s he moved the show to WABC in New York, where his character's name changed from Roland to Zacherley. He cut an album for Cameo-Parkway in the early 1960s

which included "Dinner With Drac" and a cover of Bobby Pickett's "Monster Mash." Zacherle and Appell erased the vocal tracks from several of Cameo's biggest selling singles, and doing his best Boris Karloff impression, Zacherle recorded new vocals over the instrumental tracks of the original hits, turning them into campy horror parodies.

Cameo-Parkway later reissued the album on their budget label Wyncote, and to save money on publishing deleted two of the songs from the original pressing that didn't have songwriting credits by Appell and another co-owner of the label, Kal Mann. One of the songs, a cover of Jo Ann Campbell's "I'm The Girl From Wolverton Mountain," was the least interesting song on the record, but the other, "Limb From Limbo Rock," was one of my favorite cuts.

limb from limbo rock.mp3

To further confuse matters, the reissue on Wyncote contained alternate vocal tracks on three songs—"Weird Watusi," "Pistol Stomp," and "The Ha-Ha-Ha"—where Zacherle sang more in his own voice rather than his Boris Karloff impersonation. This was the version of the album that I listened to growing up as a kid, and I like some of these vocals—especially "The Ha-Ha-Ha"—more than the ones on the first pressing because they are often—pardon the expression—more spirited than the original versions.

Zacherle's broadcasting career continued for decades, and today he is still alive and occasionally makes public appearances.