Halloween Music History #8 (2015)

HALLOWEEN SONG #8:
“DINNER WITH DRAC”
JOHN ZACHERLE, 1958


In the winter of my junior year at Mentor (Ohio) High School in 1962-63, yours truly can still remember discovering a TV character known as Ghoulardi (a/k/a the late Ernie Anderson, who’d become the voice of the ABC network promos). After that, Friday nights from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. were never the same.
 
 The first movie I saw on “Shock Theatre” was “House On Haunted Hill.” Plus, I discovered, to my delight, that Ghoulardi would do just about anything for fun. He’d light firecrackers with toy cars under them. Then he’d say “Cool it with the boom-booms.” He’d insert the weirdest scenes into his movies. In the “Cyclops” movie, for example, somebody said, “Well, try and get him to talk.” Suddenly, you heard the start of “Papa Ooo Mow Mow” by the Rivingtons and see a man who’d swallow his nose.
 
I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Ghoulardi was inspired by John Zacherle, whose “Dinner with Drac” is 
ranked as the #8 Halloween song of all time. Zacherle was known as Roland when he hosted his late night horror 
movie show on WCAU/Philadelphia. The children of Bernie Lowe, the President of Phily-based Cameo/Parkway Records, told their dad how much they liked Zacherle’s antics…sooo….
 
Zacherle was recorded doing “Dinner With Drac” (Parts 1 and 2, no less) at Lowe’s studios, a Philadelphia 
radio station played it and suddenly Zacherle was a guest on “American Bandstand.” Then, “Dinner With 
Drac” was released in early 1958. By April of that year, “Dinner With Drac Part 1” reached #6 on one chart and #16
 on another nationwide for Zacherle, who was ID’ed on the label as “The Cool Ghoul.” 
 
The record lives on with airplay during Halloween. At one point, Zacherle says, “Dinner was served for 
three at Dracula’s house by the sea. The wolfman was there. The monster was there. And the only normal 
person—ha! ha! ha!–was ME!” 
 
In the fade, Zacherle notes, “Goodnight, whereever you are!” 
 
Here’s how it sounded…. 
 
CORRECTION: In my lookback at “The Blob,” I mentioned how Burt Bacharach wrote or co-wrote seven #1 hits. Actually, it was six. Bacharach did not write “Groovy Kind Of Love.” Good catch, Ronnie Allen!!!

 NEXT TOMORROW AT #7:
HE WROTE A RONSTADT HIT.

 

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