Who is Al Yankovic?
Al Yankovic, popular as "Weird Al", is the legend of the new age musical satires which have created a rage among the present generation. With a knack for lampooning famous songs by popular artists, Yankovic has emerged to be one of the cult figures in the realm of music. Although a number of artists make parodies of popular songs, Yankovic is quite unique and is known for his light, inoffensive and amusing lyrics. He started satirizing popular songs from a very early age and with passing years his ‘talent’ grew manifold, making him one of the most famous parodists in America. Though he studied to be an architect, designing buildings was never his forte. He was a humorist at heart and in order to pursue this passion he began recording parodies of songs when he was in college. In no time his talent was discovered and his popularity grew by leaps and bounds. Success and fame came to him quite early and also a little unexpectedly but he was not swayed away by the glitter of the showbiz. He is extremely pragmatic and can be a little critical at times with his approach towards life and in his opinion about others.
Childhood & Early Life
Al Yankovic was born as Alfred Matthew Yankovic, the only child of Nick Louis Yankovic and Mary Elizabeth.
His accordion lessons began at the age of seven when a salesman offered his parents a choice of accordion or guitar lessons at a local music school. According to Yankovic, his parents were inspired by polka star Frank Yankovic (not related), and decided to go for accordion.
During his teenage years, he became a big fan of musician/comedians, such as, Tom Lehrer, Spike Jones, Allan Sherman and Stan Freberg. He was also a big fan of Elton John, who according to him was a great inspiration and his music helped this budding artist learn how to play “rock 'n roll on the accordion”.
He graduated as valedictorian from the Lynwood High School, after which he attended the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where he studied architecture.
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In his second year in California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, he became a disc jockey at the university's radio station, KCPR.
By then his friends had begun calling him ‘Weird Al’. He decided to keep the name and use it. He came up with his first recording in 1978, ‘Take Me Down’ which parodied the popular tourist destination ‘Bubblegum Alley’.
In 1979, he recorded a parody of ‘My Sharona’ by the band ‘The Knack’ which he titled "My Bologna". He sent this recording to ‘Dr. Demento’, a radio broadcaster, which was played and received good reviews.
On September 14, 1980, he was invited to the Dr. Demento Show where he played ‘Another One Rides the Bus’, a parody of Queen's hit song, live on the radio.
In 1981, he became a part of the Dr. Demento's stage show for the first time and his performance at a nightclub in Phoenix, Arizona impressed the club’s manager, Jay Levey, who inspired him to start his own band.
On March 31, 1982 his band performed its first show. In 1983, he released his first self-titled album, ‘Weird Al" Yankovic’ and in 1984 “Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D’, his second album was released.
In 1985, he released his third studio album, which had the hit single ‘Eat It’, the parody of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ and in 1986 he released ‘Polka Party!’ which however didn’t achieve great success.
In 1988, his fifth album ‘Even Worse’ was released; it was sort of a comeback after the failure of ‘Polka Party!’ . ‘Even Worse’ became his highest selling album and was certified Platinum in the U.S..
In 1989, he appeared in the film ‘UGH’ which parodied the television and film industries. Though the movie later earned a cult status, it was a commercial failure.
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He continued to record albums most of which were successful and in September 1997, he hosted a television show ‘The Weird Al Show’. The show ran till December, that year.
In 1999, he released ‘Running with Scissors’ and in 2003 he came up with ‘Poodle Hat’.
His recent works include ‘Straight Outta Lynwood’, and on June 21, 2011 he released his thirteenth studio album, ‘Alpocalypse’ in which he mocked Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ with his own version, ‘Perform This Way’.
Yankovic’s ‘Eat It’, a parody of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ was a huge hit peaking 12th spot on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’. It remains one of his highest-charting singles.
The single ‘White & Nerdy’ from the album ‘Straight Outta Lynwood’, was widely received and reached the 9th spot in the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ charts, the highest charting single by Yankovic.
Awards & Achievements
For the single ‘Eat It’, he received a Grammy Award in 1984. The song is a satire of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ and was also certified gold on October 19, 1989.
‘Fat’, another parody of Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ by Yankovic won him a Grammy Award for "Best Concept Music Video" in 1988.
In 2003, his album ‘Poodle Hat’ won a Grammy for ‘Best Comedy Album’. The album features some of his real home videos with his comments on them along with some songs.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 2001, Yankovic married Suzanne Krajewski and their daughter Nina was born in 2003.
His parents died in accidental carbon monoxide poisoning on April 9, 2004.
Of all his spoofs, this American singer-songwriter has parodied Michael Jackson the most.
This famous American singer and songwriter, who is often dubbed as the master of musical parody, suffered from extreme myopia which he corrected through a laser eye surgery.