|Who is it?||American singer-songwriter|
|Birth Day||October 23, 1959|
|Birth Place||Downey, California, United States|
|Age||61 YEARS OLD|
|Birth name||Alfred Matthew Yankovic|
|Origin||Lynwood, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Parody comedy polka|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter film/record producer satirist author|
|Instruments||Vocals accordion keyboards theremin|
|Labels||Rock 'n Roll Capitol Placebo TK Scotti Brothers Volcano RCA|
|Associated acts||Dr. Demento Jon Schwartz|
It was sort of like amateur music night, and a lot of people were like wannabe Dan Fogelbergs. They'd get up on stage with their acoustic guitar and do these lovely ballads. And I would get up with my accordion and play the theme from 2001. And people were kind of shocked that I would be disrupting their mellow Thursday night folk fest.
Yankovic was born in Downey, California and raised in Lynwood, California. He is the only child of Mary Elizabeth (Vivalda) and Nick Yankovic. His father was born in Kansas City, Kansas, of Yugoslavian descent, and began living in California after serving during World War II; he believed "the key to success" was "doing for a living whatever makes you happy" and often reminded his son of this philosophy. Nick married Mary in 1949. Mary, who was of Italian and English descent, had come to California from Kentucky, and gave birth to Alfred ten years later.
Yankovic performed at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards singing a comedic medley of songs based on the themes of several Emmy-nominated shows such as Mad Men and Game of Thrones.
In the 1970s, Yankovic was a big fan of Elton John and claims John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album "was partly how I learned to play rock 'n roll on the accordion." As for his influences in comedic and parody music, Yankovic lists artists including Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, Shel Silverstein and Frank Zappa "and all the other wonderfully sick and twisted artists that he was exposed to through the Dr. Demento Radio Show." Other sources of inspiration for his comedy come from Mad magazine, Monty Python, and the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker parody movies.
Yankovic began kindergarten a year earlier than most children, and he skipped second grade. "My classmates seemed to think I was some kind of rocket scientist so I was labeled a nerd early on," he recalls. As his unusual schooling left him two years younger than most of his classmates, Yankovic was not interested in Sports or social events at school. He attended Lynwood High School. Yankovic was active in his school's extracurricular programs, including the National Forensic League sanctioned speech events, a play based upon Rebel Without a Cause, the yearbook (for which he wrote most of the captions), and the Volcano Worshippers club, "which did absolutely nothing. We started the club just to get an extra picture of ourselves in the yearbook." Yankovic graduated in 1975 and was valedictorian of his senior class.
Yankovic received his first exposure via Southern California and syndicated comedy radio personality Dr. Demento's radio show, saying "If there hadn't been a Dr. Demento, I'd probably have a real job now." In 1976, Dr. Demento spoke at Yankovic's school where the then-16-year-old Yankovic gave him a homemade tape of original and parody songs performed on the accordion in Yankovic's bedroom into a "cheesy little tape recorder". The tape's first song, "Belvedere Cruisin'" - about his family's Plymouth Belvedere - was played on Demento's comedy radio show, launching Yankovic's career. Demento said, "'Belvedere Cruising' might not have been the very best song I ever heard, but it had some clever lines [...] I put the tape on the air immediately." Yankovic also played at local coffeehouses, accompanied by fellow dorm resident Joel Miller on bongos. Yankovic said:
During Yankovic's sophomore year as an architecture student at Cal Poly, he became a disc jockey at KCPR the university's radio station. Yankovic said he had originally been nicknamed "Weird Al" by fellow students and "took it on professionally" as his persona for the station. In 1978, he released his first recording (as Alfred Yankovic), "Take Me Down", on the LP, Slo Grown, as a benefit for the Economic Opportunity Commission of San Luis Obispo County. The song mocked famous nearby landmarks such as Bubblegum Alley and the fountain toilets at the Madonna Inn.
In mid-1979, shortly before his senior year, "My Sharona" by The Knack was on the charts and Yankovic took his accordion into the restroom across the hall from the radio station to take advantage of the echo chamber acoustics and recorded a parody titled "My Bologna". He sent it to Dr. Demento, who played it to good response from listeners. Yankovic met The Knack after a show at his college and introduced himself as the author of "My Bologna". The Knack's lead singer, Doug Fieger, said he liked the song and suggested that Capitol Records vice President Rupert Perry release it as a single. "My Bologna" was released as a single with "School Cafeteria" as its B-side, and the label gave Yankovic a six-month recording contract. Yankovic, who was "only getting average grades" in his architecture degree, began to realize that he might make a career of comedic music.
On September 14, 1980, Yankovic was a guest on the Dr. Demento Show, where he was to record a new parody live. The song was called "Another One Rides the Bus", a parody of Queen's hit, "Another One Bites the Dust". While practicing the song outside the sound booth, he met Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz, who told him he was a Drummer and agreed to bang on Yankovic's accordion case to help Yankovic keep a steady beat during the song. They rehearsed the song just a few times before the show began. "Another One Rides the Bus" became so popular that Yankovic's first television appearance was a performance of the song on The Tomorrow Show (April 21, 1981) with Tom Snyder. On the show, Yankovic played his accordion, and again, Schwartz banged on the accordion case and provided comical sound effects. Yankovic's record label, TK Records, went bankrupt about two weeks after the single was released, so Yankovic received no royalties from its initial release.
Yankovic recorded "I Love Rocky Road", (a parody of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" originally recorded by The Arrows) which was produced by Rick Derringer, in 1982. The song was a hit on Top 40 radio, leading to Yankovic's signing with Scotti Brothers Records. In 1983, Yankovic's first self-titled album was released on Scotti Bros. The song "Ricky" was released as a single and the music video received exposure on the still-young MTV. "Ricky" broke the top 100 videos on MTV at the time, which Yankovic took as a sign that his career was in music, quitting his job as a mailroom clerk at the local offices of Westwood One to pursue the music career.
Yankovic released his second album "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D in 1984. The first single "Eat It", a parody of the Michael Jackson song "Beat It", became popular, thanks in part to the music video, a shot-for-shot parody of Jackson's "Beat It" music video, and what Yankovic described as his "uncanny resemblance" to Jackson. Peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 14, 1984, "Eat It" remained Yankovic's highest-charting single until "White & Nerdy" placed at No. 9 in October 2006.
In 1985, Yankovic co-wrote and starred in a mockumentary of his own life titled The Compleat Al, which intertwined the facts of his life up to that point with fiction. The movie also featured some clips from Yankovic's trip to Japan and some clips from the Al TV specials. The Compleat Al was co-directed by Jay Levey, who would direct UHF four years later. Also released around the same time as The Compleat Al was The Authorized Al, a biographical book based on the film. The book, resembling a scrapbook, included real and fictional humorous photographs and documents.
Yankovic had a guest appearance voicing Wreck-Gar, a waste collection vehicle Transformer in the Transformers: Animated cartoon series; previously, Yankovic's "Dare to Be Stupid" song was featured in the 1986 animated film The Transformers: The Movie, during the sequence in which the Wreck-Gar character was first introduced; as such, the song is referenced in the episode. He also plays local TV talent show host Uncle Muscles on several episodes of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! along with other appearances on the show. Weird Al has also supplied the voice of one-shot character 'Petroleum Joe' on The Brak Show. He also voiced himself on a Back at the Barnyard episode, and he appeared as a ringmaster who helps the regular characters of Yo Gabba Gabba! organize a circus in a 2007 episode of the children's show.
Yankovic and his band toured as the opening act for The Monkees in mid-1987 for their second reunion tour of North America. Yankovic claims to have enjoyed touring with The Monkees, even though "the promoter gypped us out of a bunch of money."
In 1988 Yankovic was the narrator on the Wendy Carlos recording of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. The album also included a sequel to Camille Saint-Saëns's composition The Carnival of the Animals titled "The Carnival of the Animals Part II", with Yankovic providing humorous poems for each of the featured creatures in the style of Ogden Nash, who had written humorous poems for the original.
In 1989, Yankovic starred in a full-length feature film, co-written by himself and manager Jay Levey, and filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma called UHF. A satire of the television and film industries, also starring Michael Richards, Fran Drescher, and Victoria Jackson, it brought floundering studio Orion their highest test scores since the movie RoboCop. However, it was unsuccessful in theaters due to both poor critical reception and competition from other summer blockbusters at the time such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lethal Weapon 2, Batman and Licence to Kill. The failure of the film left Yankovic in a three-year slump, which was later broken by his inspiration to compose "Smells Like Nirvana".
Paul McCartney, also a Yankovic fan, refused Yankovic permission to record a parody of Wings' "Live and Let Die", titled "Chicken Pot Pie", because, according to Yankovic, McCartney is "a strict vegetarian and he didn't want a parody that condoned the consumption of animal flesh". Though McCartney suggested possibly changing the parody to "Tofu Pot Pie", Yankovic found this wouldn't fit around the chorus of the parody, based on making the sound of a chicken throughout it. While never recorded for an album, Yankovic did play parts of "Chicken Pot Pie" as part of a larger medley in several tours during the 1990s.
Rubén Valtierra joined the band on keyboards in 1991, allowing Yankovic to concentrate more on singing and increasing his use of the stage space during concerts.
While Yankovic's musical parodies generally do not include references to the songs or the artists of the original songs, Yankovic's music videos will sometimes parody the original song's music video in whole or in part. Most notably, the video for "Smells Like Nirvana" uses an extremely similar set to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", including using several of the same actors. This video contended with "Smells like Teen Spirit" at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Male Video. Other videos that draw directly from those of the original song include "Eat It", "Fat", "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*", "Bedrock Anthem", "Headline News", "It's All About the Pentiums", "Amish Paradise", "Like a Surgeon", and "White & Nerdy". The video for "Dare to Be Stupid" is, as stated by Yankovic, a style parody in general of Devo videos.
"Weird Al" Yankovic has directed many of his own music videos; he has directed all of his music videos from 1993's "Bedrock Anthem" to 2006's "White & Nerdy". He also directed the end sequence of 1986's "Christmas at Ground Zero" (an original piece juxtaposing Christmas with nuclear warfare) from his Polka Party! album and the title sequence to Spy Hard, for which he sang the title song.
Yankovic competed on a week of Wheel of Fortune taped at Disney's Hollywood Studios in March 1994. He also competed on Rock & Roll Jeopardy!
One of Yankovic's most controversial parodies was 1996's "Amish Paradise", based on "Gangsta's Paradise" by hip-hop Artist Coolio, which, in turn, was based on "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder. Reportedly, Coolio's label gave Yankovic the impression that Coolio had granted permission to record the parody, but Coolio maintains that he never did. While Coolio claimed he was upset, legal action never materialized, and Coolio accepted royalty payments for the song. After this controversy, Yankovic has always made sure to speak directly with the Artist of every song he parodied. At the XM Satellite Radio booth at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show Yankovic and Coolio made peace. On his website, Yankovic wrote of this event, "I don't remember what we said to each other exactly, but it was all very friendly. I doubt I'll be invited to Coolio's next birthday party, but at least I can stop wearing that bulletproof vest to the mall." In an interview in 2014, Coolio extended his apology for refusing his permission, stating that at the time "I was being cocky and shit and being stupid and I was wrong and I should've embraced that shit and went with it", and that he considered Yankovic's parody "actually funny as shit".
On January 24, 1998, Yankovic had LASIK eye surgery to correct his extreme myopia. When Running with Scissors debuted in 1999, he unveiled a radically changed look. In addition to shedding his glasses, he had shaved off his mustache and grown out his hair. He had previously shaved his moustache in 1983 for the video of "Ricky" to resemble Desi Arnaz, and 1996 for the "Amish Paradise" video. Yankovic reasoned, "If Madonna's allowed to reinvent herself every 15 minutes, I figure I should be good for a change at least once every 20 years." He parodied the reaction to this "new look" in a commercial for his nonexistent MTV Unplugged special. The commercial featured Yankovic in the short-haired wig from the music video for Hanson's "River", claiming his new look was an attempt to "get back to the core of what I'm all about", that being "the music".
Yankovic often describes his live concert performances as "a rock and comedy multimedia extravaganza" with an audience that "ranges from toddlers to geriatrics." Apart from Yankovic and his band performing his classic and contemporary hits, staples of Yankovic's live performances include a medley of parodies, many costume changes between songs, and a video screen on which various clips are played during the costume changes. A concert from Yankovic's 1999 tour, "Touring with Scissors", for the Running with Scissors album was released on VHS in 1999 and on DVD in 2000. Titled "Weird Al" Yankovic Live!, the concert was recorded at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California, on October 2, 1999. For legal reasons, video clips (apart from those for Yankovic's own music videos) could not be shown for the home release, and unreleased parodies were removed from the parody medley for the performance.
In 2000, Red Hot Chili Peppers Bassist Flea told Behind the Music that he was unimpressed and disappointed by Yankovic's 1993 song "Bedrock Anthem", which parodied two of the band's songs. He was quoted as stating "I didn't think it was very good. I enjoy Weird Al's things, but I found it unimaginative."
Yankovic married Suzanne Krajewski in 2001 after being introduced by their mutual friend Bill Mumy. Their daughter, Nina, was born in 2003. Yankovic identifies as Christian and has stated that a couple from his church appeared on the cover of Poodle Hat. Yankovic's religious background is reflected in his abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and profanity. He and his family currently live in Los Angeles in a house previously owned at separate times by Jack S. Margolis and Heavy D.
The film has since become a cult classic, with out-of-print copies of the VHS version selling for up to $100 on eBay until the release of the DVD in 2002. Yankovic occasionally shows clips from the film at his concerts (to which MGM, the film's current owner, initially objected in the form of a cease and desist letter). In an apparent attempt to make it more accessible to overseas audiences, where the term UHF is used less frequently to describe TV broadcasts, the film was titled The Vidiot From UHF in Australia and parts of Europe.
Yankovic has done voice-overs for several animated series. He appeared in a 2003 episode of The Simpsons, singing "The Ballad of Homer & Marge" (a parody of John Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane") with his band. The episode, "Three Gays of the Condo", in which Marge hires Yankovic to sing the aforementioned song to Homer in an attempt to reconcile their marriage, later won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)". Yankovic also had a cameo in a 2008 episode, titled "That '90s Show", during which he records a parody of Homer's grunge hit "Shave Me" titled "Brain Freeze" (Homer's song, "Shave Me", was itself a parody of Nirvana's "Rape Me") making Yankovic one of only a handful of celebrities to appear twice on the show playing themselves.
Similar to the Weird Al Star Fund, a second fan-driven campaign called "Make the Rock Hall 'Weird'" has tried to enshrine him into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, for which he has been eligible since 2004. Previous attempts to raise awareness for the campaign and support Yankovic's nomination included a petition drive from 2006 to 2007, which raised over 9000 signatures; an art competition in 2005; additionally, a documentary film about the campaign is currently being developed. In addition to these efforts, an ongoing campaign is underway in which supporters of Yankovic's nomination are requested to send "sincere, thoughtful" letters to the Rock Hall Foundation's headquarters in New York. The Hall has not considered Yankovic for nomination since the campaign started in 2004. A 2009 Rolling Stone poll named Weird Al as the top Artist that should be nominated for the Hall of Fame, followed by Rush (who were inducted in 2013) and The Moody Blues in the top ten."
The Weird Al Star Fund is a campaign started by Yankovic's fans to get him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Their mission is to "solicit, collect, and raise the necessary money, and to compile the information needed for the application to nominate "Weird Al" Yankovic for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame." Fans worldwide have sent donations to raise the US$15,000 needed for a nomination. In addition to the preferred method of cash donations, many methods were used to raise money for the cause, such as a live benefit show held April 11, 2006, and selling merchandise on the official website and eBay, including T-shirts, calendars, and cookbooks. On May 26, 2006, the campaign hit the then-$15,000 target, just five days before the May 31 deadline to submit the necessary paperwork. However, Yankovic was not included on the list of inductees for 2007. On February 9, 2007, the Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce raised the price to sponsor a new star to $25,000 and as such the Fund is accepting donations again. Yankovic's application was resubmitted for consideration in 2007, but he was not included among 2008's inductees. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced in June 2017 that Yankovic will receive a star on the Walk of Fame as part of the 2018 inductees.
Yankovic has invited members of the 501st Legion on stage during performances of his Star Wars-themed songs "Yoda" and "The Saga Begins", recruiting members of local garrisons (club chapters) while on tour. In appreciation, the 501st inducted Yankovic as a "Friend of the Legion", in September 2007.
In 2008, Weird Al joined Michael J. Nelson as a guest on the RiffTrax treatment of Jurassic Park.
In 2009, Yankovic was a special guest on an episode of G4's Web Soup where he came as Mark Gormley at first.
On January 25, 2010, Yankovic announced that he had signed a production deal with Warner Bros. to write and direct a live-action feature film for Cartoon Network. Although Yankovic previously wrote the script for UHF, this was to be the first movie Yankovic directed. Yankovic stated that he would not be starring in the movie, as Cartoon Network wanted a younger protagonist. During an interview on Comedy Death-Ray Radio, Yankovic revealed that though Cartoon Network "loved" his script, the network decided that they were no longer intending to produce feature films. Yankovic initially stated that he would instead shop the script around to other potential studios, but in 2013 revealed that the project had been scrapped as "it was really geared for Cartoon Network" and that he had "cannibalized jokes from that script to use for other projects."
In 2011, Yankovic guest starred as the character "Banana Man" in an episode of Adventure Time. The same year, he appeared as himself in the How I Met Your Mother episode "Noretta".
In 2012, he appeared as himself along with Alice Cooper, Bret Michaels, and Maria Menounos in The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange for the Christmas special, and sung with Alice, Bret, and Orange.
Yankovic also wrote a sequel to When I Grow Up, 2013's My New Teacher and Me!
On May 31, 2014, Yankovic won the ACE Award (Amateur Cartoonist Extraordinaire) from the National Cartoonists Society at its awards banquet in San Diego.
Yankovic became the first guest Editor for Mad Magazine for their 533rd issue, published in April 2015.
In October 2016, Yankovic collaborated with the Gregory Brothers to create a music video "Bad Hombres, Nasty Women" shortly after the third debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, with Yankovic singing between autotuned snippets from the candidates.
On June 22, 2017, it was announced that Al would be one of those receiving his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018.