Watch the Edgar Winter Group’s Epic Performance of ‘Frankenstein’ on ‘The Midnight Special’

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One of the most successful instrumental tracks of the classic rock era almost never was. “Frankenstein” was not originally slated for The Edgar Winter Group‘s 1972 LP They Only Come Out at Night – produced by Rick Derringer – but was added to its tracks just prior to the album being manufactured. It was serviced to radio on February 21, 1973, as the B-side to the song “Hangin’ Around.” But when DJs started flipping the 45 over and playing “Frankenstein” their request lines lit up.

By May it hit #1, and on June 19, 1973, was certified gold for sales of 500,000 copies. The single eventually went on to sell more than a million copies. Winter, born on December 28, 1946, in Beaumont, TX, was just 26 years old.

The song’s title was suggested by Winter Group drummer Chuck Ruff as the 4:44 minute album version was compiled from many manual edits of the master tape using a splicing block, razor blade and splicing tape in those pre-Pro Tools time (and later chopped down to 3:28 to be released on the seven-inch 45). It was the first hit song on which the lead instrument was the relatively newfangled electronic synthesizer.

Watch an extended performance of the song later that year on The Midnight Special

Related: “Frankenstein” is included in Part 1 of our series, Surprising Radio Hits of the ’70s

The Edgar Winter Group’s follow-up single, “Free Ride,” is also a huge classic rock hit, reaching #14 that same year. His recordings are available here., including his Grammy Award-winning album, Brother Johnny.

Winter is touring with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. Tickets are available here and here. If and when the Edgar Winter Band tours, tickets are available here and here.

Related: We spoke to Winter about the making-of his They Only Come Out at Night album

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  1. Baybluesman
    #1 Baybluesman 19 June, 2022, 02:19

    “Frankenstein”, and Edgar Winter, still rocks with the best of them, almost 50 years later.

    I worked at National Record Mart (NRM) during high school, and had the good fortune to be able to open up new releases and select album cuts (teenage rocker’s dream job) to play on the store’s audio system.

    Had such great exposure to so many artists, and getting paid for it – I was in heaven – but I digress.

    Already a fan of Edgar Winter’s White Trash, I started playing “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride” (as well as other of the album’s cuts) on my shifts, and knew right away this would be a commercial breakthrough for Edgar Winter, and was backed up by all the Customers who heard the songs on the store’s audio set-up, and snatched -up copies as soon as we got them in, every couple of days.

    For the first couple of months after initial release, we couldn’t get enough copies in, until the distributor woke up and listened to NRM’s store managers.

    I still see Edgar Winter when he’s performing nearby, and he doesn’t disappoint, playing 8-9 minute versions of “Frankenstein” and 17 minute versions of “Tobacco Road”, included in his shows

    As Edgar ends every performance with, I wish all BCB readers, to “Keep On Rockin'”!

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  2. Barry Mac
    #2 Barry Mac 20 June, 2023, 18:30

    The second of two unlikely, and relatively odd, instrumental hits in the spring of ’73, alongside “Hocus Pocus” by Focus. What intrigues a bit further is that this hit about the same time as other MUCH different top 10 songs, from “Dead Skunk” to “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” to “Dueling Banjos”.

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