Weird Al Yankovic
He first started playing the accordion one day before his seventh birthday, mastering the instrument by age ten.
After hearing Dr. Demento (a comedy radio program featuring humorous music), Al sent the Doctor a tape of a song entitled Belvedere Cruising in 1976. Al was a senior in high school at the time, but that tape was the start of his eventual career.
Three years later, Al was an architecture student and a disc jockey at the California Polytech, San Luis Obispo radio station (KCPR). Since My Sharona by The Knack was on the charts and the Knack was going to play at Cal Poly, Al took his accordion into the bathroom across from the listening booth and recorded a parody entitled My Bologna. The Knack thought it was funny, and arranged for the song to be released on their label, Capitol Records, which gave Al a six-month contract.
In 1980, Al was working the mail room at Westwood One, Dr. Demento's radio network at the time, when he announced he had another parody. Jon Schwartz was also there, and he was a percussionist, so he was recruited to bang on Al's accordion case. The resulting performance of Another One Rides the Bus was a parody of a Queen hit, Another One Bites the Dust.
1981 brought Al on tour for the first time as part of Dr. Demento's act. His performances were particularly interesting as few, if any, people at the time were doing parodies of rock and roll songs on accordion. His stage act caught the eye of manager Jay Levey, who loved it and became Al's manager. Jay insisted that the act would sound better if Al had a full band, so he held auditions. Steve Jay became Al's bass player, and Jim West the lead guitarist. With Jon Bermuda Schwartz on drums, the band was complete.
Al claims to have been inspired by Allan Sherman, whose portrait in miniature (with name) can be found by the observant on the cover of Al's first album.
Though he is best known for his song parodies, Yankovic has recorded a greater number of original humorous songs. Yankovic's work depends largely on the satirizing of popular culture, including television, movies, food, popular music, and sometimes issues in contemporary news. Although many of his songs are parodies of contemporary radio hits, it is rare that the song's primary topic is the lampooning of that artist. Yankovic's humor lies more in creating unexpected incongruity between an artist's image and the topic of the song, contrasting the style of the song with its content, or in pointing out trends or works which have become pop culture cliches.
Yankovic has received three Grammy Awards and will be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, although he says, "I think my chances of ever making it into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame are about as good as Milli Vanilli's."
Weird Al Yankovic Facts
|Alfred Matthew Yankovic
|October 23, 1959 (64)
|Lynwood, California, USA
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