Edgar Winter is a multi-instrumentalist and keyboard wizard who was keen to experiment with synthesizers, which were in their early stages of development. In 1971, the ARP 2600 was released. Unlike their previous model (the ARP 2500), the keyboard was not built into the console - it was connected by a cable. Winter figured out a way to extend the cable so he could play the instrument by wearing the keyboard around his neck, which meant he could walk around the stage with it. (The 2600 also didn't require bulky patch cables
.) Winter developed "Frankenstein" as a showcase for the instrument, which became a jaw-dropping part of his live show
. It seemed too experimental to be a hit, but they thought it might get some airplay on freeform FM radio stations that were willing to push the boundaries.
Running 4:45, the song was the last track on the They Only Come Out At Night
album, and a 3:02 edit was included as the B-side of the "Hangin' Around" single. DJs didn't give "Hangin' Around" many spins, but some played the B-side, "Frankenstein," which elicited lots of calls from listeners wanting to know who created that crazy noise. A few program directors at big AM radio stations added it to their playlists, so it became clear the song needed release as an A-side.
By this time, the band had been playing the song live for a while and had become quite familiar with it. Winter brought the band back into the studio and created a new and improved "Frankenstein" that was released as an A-side single at 3:24. In May 1973, it hit #1 in America.