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Weird Al Yankovic Biography

Weird Al Yankovic Tickets

Weird Al Yankovic In-depth Biography

The foremost song parodist of the MTV} era, "Weird Al" Yankovic} carried the torch of musical humor more proudly and more successfully than any performer since Allan Sherman}. In the world of novelty} records -- a genre noted for its extensive back catalog of flashes-in-the-pan and one-hit wonders -- Yankovic} was king, scoring smash after smash over the course of an enduring career which found him topically mocking everything from new wave} to gangsta rap}.

Alfred Matthew Yankovic} was born October 23, 1959, in Lynwood, CA. An only child, he began playing the accordion at age seven, following in the tradition of polka} star Frank Yankovic} (no relation); in his early teens he became an avid fan of the Dr. Demento} show, drawing inspiration from the parodies of Allan Sherman} as well as the musical comedy of Spike Jones}, Tom Lehrer}, and Stan Freberg}. In 1973 Demento} spoke at Yankovic}'s school, where the 13 year old passed the radio host a demo tape of home recordings; three years later, Demento} played Yankovic}'s "Belvedere Cruising"} -- an accordion-driven pop} song written about the family's Plymouth -- on the air, and his career was launched.

Yankovic} quickly emerged as a staple of the Demento} play list, recording a prodigious amount of tongue-in-cheek material throughout his high-school career. After graduation, he studied architecture; while attending California Polytechnic State University, he also joined the staff of the campus radio station, first adopting the nickname "Weird Al" and spinning a mixture of novelty} and new wave} hits. In 1979, the success of the Knack}'s monster hit "My Sharona"} inspired Yankovic} to record a parody dubbed "My Bologna"}; not only was the song a smash with Demento} fans, but it even found favor with the Knack} themselves, who convinced their label, Capitol}, to issue the satire as a single.

After graduating in 1980, Yankovic} cut "Another One Rides the Bus,"} a parody of Queen}'s chart-topping "Another One Bites the Dust"} recorded live in Dr. Demento}'s studios; the song became an underground hit, and Yankovic} followed it up with "I Love Rocky Road,"} a satire of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts}' "I Love Rock 'n Roll."} After hooking up with noted session guitarist and producer Rick Derringer}, he signed to Scotti Bros.}, which issued his debut LP, "Weird Al" Yankovic}, in 1983. The album featured the song "Ricky,"} a tune inspired equally by Toni Basil}'s hit "Mickey"} and the I Love Lucy} television series; issued as a single, it hit the Top 100 charts, and its accompanying video became a staple of the fledgling MTV} network.

Ultimately, much of Yankovic}'s success resulted from his skilled use of music video, a medium not available in the era of Spike Jones} or Allan Sherman}; suddenly, not only could records themselves serve as parody fodder, but their video clips were ripe for satire as well. Additionally, MTV} firmly established Yankovic}'s public persona; sporting garish Hawaiian shirts, frizzy hair, and an arsenal of goofy mannerisms, he cut a distinctly bizarre figure which he consistently exploited to maximum comic effect. After Michael Jackson}'s "Beat It"} became the most acclaimed video in the medium's brief history, Yankovic} recorded "Eat It"} for his sophomore effort, 1984's "Weird" Al Yankovic in 3-D}; the "Eat It"} video, which mocked the "Beat It"} clip scene-for-scene, became an MTV} smash, and the Grammy-winning single reached the Top 15.

In addition to "Eat It,"} In 3-D} also launched the minor hits "King of Suede"} (a rewrite of the Police}'s "King of Pain"}) and "I Lost on Jeopardy"} (a send-up of the Greg Kihn Band}'s "Jeopardy"}), as well as "Polkas on 45,"} the first in a series of medleys of pop} hits recast as polka} numbers. Dare to Be Stupid}, the first comedy} record ever released in the new compact disc format, followed in 1985, and featured "Like a Surgeon,"} a takeoff of the Madonna} hit "Like a Virgin."} Like its predecessor, Dare to Be Stupid} went gold, but 1986's Polka Party!} fared poorly and charted only briefly, prompting many to write off Yankovic}'s career.

However, in 1988, Yankovic} returned with the platinum-selling Even Worse}, its title and album cover a reference to Michael Jackson}'s recent Bad} LP. "I'm Fat,"} the first single and video, also parodied the lavish Martin Scorsese}-directed clip for Jackson}'s hit "Bad"}; shot on the same subway set used by Jackson}, the video -- which portrayed Yankovic} as a grotesquely obese tough guy -- won him his second Grammy. The next year, he starred in the feature film UHF}, which he also co-wrote; a soundtrack} appeared as well.

After an extended period of silence, he returned in 1992 with Off the Deep End}, which featured the Top 40 hit "Smells Like Nirvana,"} a send-up of Nirvana}'s landmark single "Smells Like Teen Spirit."} After 1993's Alapalooza}, he resurfaced in 1996 with Bad Hair Day}, his highest-charting record to date thanks to the success of the single "Amish Paradise,"} a takeoff of the Coolio} hit "Gangsta's Paradise."} The follow-up, Running with Scissors}, appeared in 1999, with Poodle Hat} landing in 2003. Straight Outta Lynwood} appeared in 2006 with the single "White & Nerdy,"} a suburban parody of Chamillionaire}'s hit "Ridin."} ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

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