May 1973: The Edgar Winter Group Hits #1 on the Hot 100 with "Frankenstein"

NEW YORK: Edgar Winter performs live on stage with The Edgar Winter Group in New York in 1974 (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)
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(Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

It's an incredibly rare occurrence when an instrumental track goes all the way to #1 on the mainstream Hot 100 pop chart. The Edgar Winter Group achieved that golden landmark over the week of May 26, 1973, with the legendary instrumental song, "Frankenstein."

The very last song on the Edgar Winter Group's They Only Come Out at Night LP, "Frankenstein" was originally relegated to the B-side of the album's opening track, "Hangin' Around." It took savvy North American radio DJs to flip the single and give "Frankenstein" a little airtime for listeners to start calling in to ask about the wild instrumental track. The band's label wisely reacted to the unexpected attention, and made "Frankenstein" the A-side. The monster tune stormed radio airwaves and the charts, and the rest is history.

"When we were editing it in the studio, back in those days when you edited something, you physically had to cut the tape and splice it back together, so it was all over the control room, draped over the backs of chairs and the couch," Edgar Winter explained later in an interview about how the song was conceived out of countless recorded takes. "We were making fun of it, trying to figure out how to put it back together, saying 'Here's the main body; the leg bone's connected to the thigh bone...' Then Chuck Ruff, my drummer, says, 'Wow, man, it's like Frankenstein.' As soon as I heard that, I went, 'Wow, that's it!' The monster was born."

FUN FACT: Guitar legend Rick Derringer handles axe duties on the studio version of "Frankenstein." Watch this amazing nine-minute plus live version of the track from back in the day, featuring Derringer on guitar. Also: Edgar Winter is a very talented man.

BONUS BEAT: This 2018 interview with Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols is pure gold. 

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