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'Weird Al' Yankovic Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (8) | Trivia (65) | Personal Quotes (60)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 23 October 1959Lynwood, California, USA
Birth NameAlfred Matthew Yankovic
Nicknames The Weird One
The Boneless Boy
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Alfred Matthew Yankovic was born on October 23, 1959, in the Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood. He first took up the accordion when a salesman came around to solicit business for a music school. His parents, Mary (Vivalda) and Nick Yankovic, decided on the accordion because of polka king Frankie Yankovic (no relation). As a child and young teen, Al watched a lot of television, which gave him much inspiration for his later work. He also became a fan of such musician/comedians as Allan Sherman and Spike Jones. He became especially acquainted with these musicians through the radio show of Barry Hansen, aka "Dr. Demento", which would later become a great source of publicity for his talents. After an extraordinary career at Lynwood High School, where Al graduated as valedictorian, he attended the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo to study architecture, a field he is said to have chosen because it was listed first in the catalog (although he has said that he really chose it on the advice of a guidance counselor). It was at Cal Poly that Al had a radio show and earned the nickname "Weird Al". Although he had sent tapes to Dr. Demento in the past, it was at Cal Poly where he recorded his first real published piece, a parody of the popular "My Sharona" by The Knack, called "My Bologna". After the astounding success of that song, forever to be known as the "bathroom recording" as it was recorded in the acoustically perfect mens' room, Al began his phenomenal career, which has spanned twelve albums, numerous compilations, a box set, movies, videos and edible underwear. He has also done a great deal to advance the cause of accordion-wielding weirdos, for which we can all be thankful.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Johnny Carwash <carwash@infobahnos.com>

Spouse (1)

Suzanne Krajewski (10 February 2001 - present) (1 child)

Trade Mark (8)

Hawaiian shirt, canvas shoes and (until 1997) glasses
Frequently makes reference to the number 27
Writes songs about food, television series and romances that end in bloodshed.
Performs polka style medleys of songs that have no connection with each other, as if randomly chosen.
Often features a celebrity guest appearance in his music videos (such as Florence Henderson in "Amish Paradise", Ruth Buzzi and Pat Boone in "Gump" and Dick Van Patten in "Smells Like Nirvana").
Displays his remarkable flexibility in many videos, performing feats like putting his leg behind his head or the "boneless dance" where his elbows appear to bend both ways.
His long, curly hair
Often parodies older songs when singing about the plot of a movie.

Trivia (65)

As of March 2000, he has had four gold and four platinum records in the United States, five gold, two platinum, and one double platinum record in Canada. He has also won two Grammy Awards and been nominated for eight more.
There was once a bi-monthly Al fanzine called "The Midnight Star". This title is taken from the second song on Yankovic's album "...In 3-D" (Incidentally, the song itself is a satirical homage to supermarket tabloids).
He directed some of his music videos, such as "Amish Paradise", "Gump", "Headline News" and "Bedrock Anthem".
Got his first accordion lesson on October 22, 1966, one day before his seventh birthday.
Gives a special thanks to Dr. Demento (Barry Hansen) on each of his albums, since the radio DJ was the first to play his songs on the air.
Graduated valedictorian from Lynwood High School...at the tender age of 16! Moreover, Yankovic was one of the most popular kids in his class. He also claims to have started a club called "The Volcano Worshippers," so he could get his picture onto even more pages in the school yearbook.
Went to California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, where he majored in Architecture and graduated with honors. The Compleat Al (1985) includes an architectural rendering by Al of a food-oriented city called "Burgeropolis".
Has jokingly said that he was born in an elevator on the way to the delivery room.
Produced the album "Babalu Music", a collection of musical numbers from the television series I Love Lucy (1951), and includes a Yankovic-edited medley of Desi Arnaz melodies.
His first song, "My Bologna" (a parody of The Knack's "My Sharona"), was recorded in a college bathroom. After being played on the "Dr. Demento Show" radio program, it caught the attention of Doug Fieger, lead singer of The Knack, and Fieger arranged for his record label to sign Yankovic for a short contract. The resulting single (now a collector's item) brought him to national attention, and "My Bologna" became Al's first hit. Yankovic subsequently presented Fieger with a large bologna.
Fell under the disfavor of rap star Coolio, who claimed that Yankovic's "Amish Paradise" (a parody of "Gangsta's Paradise") was disrespectful of his song which he felt was too serious to parody. Yankovic said that his record label had been given permission by Coolio to parody the song but the rapper denied giving that sanction (the confusion appears to have been caused by a breakdown in the chain of communication, where a "yes" was given by his record label without Coolio's knowledge). In response Yankovic wrote Coolio a letter of apology to which he has (to date) not responded. No legal action has been taken. Ironically, "Gangsta's Paradise" is itself a sampled reworking of Stevie Wonder's "Pasttime Paradise".
Main vice: desserts.
Along with the Hawaiian shirt and canvas shoes, his trademark look used to be glasses and a mustache. In 1997, he shaved off his mustache and underwent LASIK surgery to correct his nearsightedness, but his publicists insisted that he wear costume glasses and a fake mustache. In 1999, he decided that the costume was too annoying, and revealed his "new" look (reasoning that "if Madonna can change her look every time she puts out a new album, I can certainly change my look every ten years or so"). He still wears the costume glasses and mustache during some of his performances when he wants to recreate the "classic" Weird Al look.
Since 2001, his song "Christmas at Ground Zero" has been banned at some radio stations due to content. Although the song is about nuclear war at Christmas and was recorded in 1986 (from his album "Polka Party"), those stations have feared that "Ground Zero" has recently become synonymous with the World Trade Center buildings collapsing.
Daughter Nina Yankovic born to Al and Suzanne on February 11, 2003.
Yankovic wrote the song "One More Minute" after being dumped by a then-girlfriend. He sought to remake this song as a duet with Frank Sinatra, but Sinatra declined Yankovic's invitation.
His album "Poodle Hat" won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy album. Al has also won Grammy Awards for "Eat It" and "Fat".
Despite sharing a last name and a passion for accordion music, "Weird Al" was no relation to the legendary "Polka King", Frankie Yankovic. Despite this, both men were good friends. "Weird Al" even appeared as a guest accordionist on a recording of "Who Stole the Kishka" on Frankie's Grammy-nominated album "Songs of the Polka King, Volume One". Shortly after Frankie's death, Al was figuratively bombarded with sympathy mail from fans.
Parents Nick Yankovic and Mary Yankovic were killed on April 9, 2004, when a closed fireplace-flue caused their home to fill with carbon monoxide.
Was the subject of a 1999 episode of VH-1's Behind the Music (1997) documentary. Unlike other such celebrity documentaries in this series, his did not include any mention of alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, gambling, religious cults or sexual escapades. Yankovic agreed to appear because, having created his own mock-biography in The Compleat Al (1985), he decided it would be fun to have someone do a serious biography on him.
Has been a vegetarian ever since 1992. A girlfriend at the time gave him the book "Diet for a New America", and Yankovic said he felt it made some compelling arguments to be vegetarian. He currently eats no meat and tries also to avoid dairy and egg products.
As a rule, all parody ideas are his, with one exception: "Like a Surgeon" came about from a comment Madonna made asking when he was going to turn "Like a Virgin" into that parody.
Is an only child.
Said he knew he'd made it as a famous musician when he went to a party, saw Paul McCartney and before he could introduce himself to the former Beatle, McCartney recognized him and said, "Hey! It's Weird Al!"
One of the few artists to consistently turn down Yankovic's requests to do parodies has been Prince. Originally, Yankovic envisioned the centerpiece song "Beverly Hillbillies" in the movie UHF (1989) to be a parody of "Let's Go Crazy" and reportedly also wanted to do parodies of "When Doves Cry" and "Purple Rain". After years of asking, Yankovic tried a different tactic: he requested permission to parody one of Prince's videos (but not the song itself); to his surprise, approval was granted. Thus, the video for Weird Al's original song "UHF" includes a segment parodying Prince's bathtub sequence in the video for "When Doves Cry". Incidentally, Weird Al's song "Amish Paradise" contains the lyric "So tonight we're gonna party like it's 1699", a reference to Prince's hit "1999".
Another artist to have denied parody permission is Paul McCartney. Yankovic wrote a parody of "Live and Let Die" called "Chicken Pot Pie", but McCartney (a staunch vegetarian) denied permission. As a result, Yankovic has never released the song, but has performed it in concert.
Has directed music videos by other artists, notably "Only a Fool" by The Black Crowes, and "The River" by the boy-band Hanson (which was itself a parody of Titanic (1997)).
Says his most frequent question by reporters is "Do you write any original songs?" The irony is that roughly half of his material (since his very first album) is original--sometimes parodying the *style* of an artist, but not based on any existing melody or lyrics.
Along with his trademark song parodies, most of his albums include a track in which Al and his band perform polka-style (but lyrically faithful) renditions of popular hits (he is an accordionist, after all). Most of these have been eclectic medleys of recent hits, although the "Hot Rocks Polka" (from the UHF (1989) soundtrack) was a collection of The Rolling Stones hits, and the album "Alapalooza" featured a complete polka version of Queen's classic "Bohemian Rhapsody", called "Bohemian Polka".
His offical website, WeirdAl.com, is maintained by his long-time drummer, Jon Schwartz (a.k.a. "Bermuda" Schwartz).
When he asked Nirvana for permission to parody "Smells Like Teen Spirit", their first question was, "Will it be about food?". When Yankovic explained that "Smells Like Nirvana" would be about how nobody could understand their singing, they agreed that it sounded funny and granted permission.
His album covers are frequently parodies as well: Michael Jackson's album "Bad" was spoofed as "Even Worse" (Yankovic even hired the same photo, artwork and wardrobe team to replicate the cover precisely); Nirvana's album "Nevermind" became "Off the Deep End" (with Al replicating the naked baby in the pool photo himself); and the Jurassic Park (1993) soundtrack was turned into "Alapalooza".
His video for "Fat" was filmed in the same parking garage as Michael Jackson's "Bad", and included several of the same actors and dancers. The "fat suit" he wore (which weighed 40 pounds) caused him to lose weight, not only because it made him sweat profusely, but the sight of himself as being grotesquely obese made him want to eat less.
He used the money he earned from "My Bologna" to found his own short-lived record label, Placebo Records, which released his second record (an "EP" record with only four songs). Copies of the record are hot collector's items.
The contract that allows his records to be released by record companies outside the United States also grants permission for those companies to use other cover artwork. As a result, some truly bizarre covers have been produced, particularly in Japan and other non-English-speaking areas.
During the height of his "Eat It" fame, he spoofed Michael Jackson's Pepsi sponsorship by appearing briefly in a Diet Coke commercial. The spot showed a figure from the back, in a "Thriller"-style jacket, who then turned to reveal it was Al.
Was offered the opening spot for the European leg of Michael Jackson's "Bad" tour. However, he was involved in the production of his movie UHF (1989) at the time, and respectfully declined.
Has released his own version of "Peter and the Wolf"; this is a collaboration with electronic-music-pioneer Wendy Carlos.
The Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) movies have inspired two of Yankovic's best-known and best-loved parodies: "Yoda", taken from "Lola" and Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980); and "The Saga Begins", taken from Don McLean's "American Pie" and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
[October 2005] His music video collection 'Weird Al' Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection (2003) went Platinum.
Wrote "Yoda" (a parody of The Kinks' "Lola") as far back as 1980, but couldn't release it until 1985 with his 3rd album, "Dare to Be Stupid", because Ray Davies considered the song too personal for parody. However, after the massive success of "Eat It", Davies was convinced that Yankovic could successfully perform the parody while respecting the original.
After graduating college, he applied to work at McDonald's, but was rejected for being overqualified.
Contrary to popular belief, Yankovic is not under any explicit obligation to obtain permission from the composers of the songs he parodies -- courts in the United States and other countries have consistently given great latitude to parody, almost always ruling that it is protected under the tenets of free expression and social critique (the exceptions are generally cases where the resulting work violates principles of good taste). However, out of respect for his peers in the entertainment industry, he has always asked permission, and (the Coolio controversy notwithstanding) has consistently abided by the artists' wishes. While permission isn't mandatory, he *is* obligated to pay royalties for any direct parodies.
When he requested permission to parody Dire Straits' song "Money for Nothing", authorization was granted -- with the stipulation that Mark Knopfler (a fan of Weird Al) be allowed to play lead guitar on the song. Thus, "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies" (featured on the UHF (1989) soundtrack) is one of the few Yankovic songs in which Jim West *doesn't* play lead guitar.
Wrote a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" called "You're Pitiful". After Blunt's record company, Atlantic Records, granted permission, Al recorded the song, but then permission was revoked. Although he abided by the decision (the song isn't on his new album), Al responded by putting the song on his MySpace page for free download, and there's a not-so-subtle snipe at Atlantic Records in the new video "White and Nerdy".
His paternal grandparents, Matt and Mary Yankovic, were Serbian immigrants. His maternal grandfather, Alfred Vivalda, was an Italian immigrant, and his maternal grandmother, Fairy Kidwell, was born in Kentucky, and had English ancestry.
Bill Mumy was a mutual friend of Al and his wife, and introduced them.
Another person who turned down Weird Al's request for a parody was Yoko Ono. Al approached Paul McCartney about parodying The Beatles song "Free as a Bird" with "Gee I'm a Nerd". McCartney turned the decision over to Ono, who told Al she didn't feel comfortable with his parodying the song. "Gee I'm a Nerd" has since become a concert-only song (as have many Weird Al songs that never received a full blessing), and Al has said that if he knows beforehand that Ono will be in the audience, then, out of respect for her, they won't play it.
Shortly after the release of the album "Straight Outta Lynwood", it was noted that Al's trademark number 27 could be seen in the license plate on the car on the cover. Al revealed that the number 27 is actually a homage to his mother, who was born on Feburary 7, 1923 (or 2/7/23).
After doing a short polka parody of "Jocko Homo", members of Devo ran into Al at a party and asked why they weren't worthy of a full song parody. Al responded with the pastiche piece "Dare to Be Stupid". Reportedly, the members of Devo were not impressed.
Penned a parody of George Harrison's "Taxman", titled "PacMan", with Barnes & Barnes, but it was never commercially released.
Is a longtime and devoted friend of the late George Harrison, whom he respected as a singer and songwriter. Yankovic wrote a parody of "Got My Mind Set on You", called "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long". Harrison even accepted his permission, therefore, it was released as a song off his album "Even Worse".
Recorded his first album at Cherokee Recording Studios in 1982. The album sold over 500,000 copies.
While he uses the original music in his parodies, it is not the original master track. He and his band take the original and transpose it by ear into a new key.
After the incident with Coolio and "Amish Paradise", Al acquires permission for his parodies directly from the artists, and not through intermediaries.
"Eat It" was his highest charting U.S. single on the Billboard Hot 100 for more than twenty years, until "White & Nerdy" broke into the Top 10.
His 1984 recording of "I Lost on Jeopardy" a parody of Greg Kihn's 1983 #2 Pop hit, "Our Love's In Jeopardy", referenced the original "Jeopardy" with Art Fleming as host. The show ran from 1964-75 and was revived briefly during the 1978-79 season. A popular 1984 video of the song featured Al, his parents, Art Fleming, original announcer Don Pardo, Greg Kihn and Al's mentor, the comedic novelty DJ, "Dr. Demento". Interestingly, "Jeopardy"(1984), hosted by Alex Trebek, as we know it today, premiered in syndication, just 3 months after the records's release. Initialy, many viewers , at first, had mistaken "Jeopardy"(1984) the quiz show, which initially aired after midnight in many markets, for the then popular music video. At least, for the first several minutes.
Despite not requiring permission from artists/bands to parody their songs, he is required by law to pay royalties for any parodies that directly sample any lyrics, music, etc., from other songs. Because of the number of parodies he's written, recorded and performed, Weird Al's royalties are among the most complicated in the music industry.
Preparing for the "Poodle Hat" tour. [April 2003]
His new album "Straight Outta Lynwood" is being released at the end of this month. The video of the first single from the album "Don't Download This Song" (directed and animated by Bill Plympton) has been uploaded to MySpace by Al. [September 2006]
Preparing for an as yet unnamed tour kicking off June 19th in San Diego [March 2003]
Currently on tour in the US.
His fourteenth studio album "Mandatory Fun" debuted at number one on the US album charts on July 22, 2014, becoming the first number one album of his 31 year career, as well as the first comedy album to top the US charts since 1963.
While he had a Top 20 hit with "Eat It", it wasn't until 2006, with "White & Nerdy", that he broke into the Top 10.

Personal Quotes (60)

[on a 1999 episode of Behind the Music (1997), answering a question about (then) being unmarried. He is now married and has a daughter] [My parents] are like, 'Well, he's almost 40, lives in Los Angeles, and he's unmarried. You know what THAT means!"
A lot of artists have really been supportive over the years.
I'm still a geek on the inside, that's the important thing.
How can you get bored if the audience is cheering and laughing at something you're doing?
As my father used to tell me, the only true sign of success in life is being able to do for a living that which makes you happy.
I don't really look at myself as the kind of person who craves attention, but I've never been to therapy so there's probably a lot of stuff about myself that I don't know.
By the time I'm in the studio recording my parody, 10,000 parodies of that song are on YouTube.
As much as people are griping about the Internet taking sales away from artists, it's been a huge promotional tool for me.
As it turns out, there is a thing called the Internet, and stuff does go out there whether the suits like it or not.
As a kid, I certainly never thought I would get to spend my life doing something fun.
A lot of rap songs don't usually have a lot of melody per se.
I like the guitar-driven music of Nirvana at its peak. At that point, I thought there was a lot of really exciting music coming out.
I know now that everything I write, I'm going to put out, and I'll have to live with it for the rest of my life.
I have a long-standing history of respecting artists' wishes.
I don't think there are any new media I'd like to cover.
I can't get too offended when somebody parodies me.
I'm very analytical, I'm very precise.
I'm obviously not a rapper, and I don't have any claims to be one, really.
I think that nerds, if you want to call them that, have only gotten more hip and assimilated into the culture.
I mean, I hate to gloat, but I'm extremely satisfied with my position in life and the way things have worked out for me.
I mean, I don't write for kids.
In the '80s, I was putting out an album virtually every year, I think mostly based on fear - that if I didn't, people would soon forget about me.
If something is good enough, it can be out there and people will see it.
I've learned how to use my spam filter pretty effectively.
I've done a movie and a TV series, and someday I'd like to do a successful movie and a successful TV series. That would be nice.
I'm watching the charts every week and hoping something will pop into my head.
People that were a little nerdy in high school would look up to me and know it gets better.
People never ask people doing serious music, 'Do you ever think about doing funny music?'
My personal taste doesn't enter into it a lot when I make my decisions as to what to parody.
My hobbies just sort of gradually became my vocation.
It's hard to force creativity and humor.
The irony is of course that my career has lasted a whole lot longer than some of the people I've parodied over the years.
Some people want to advertise their weirdness, and spread it out, that's not me.
So I'm one of the few celebrities that got to do a repeat performance on 'The Simpsons,' which I'm very flattered by.
Probably 90 percent of my albums have polka medleys.
Pop culture's gotten much more disposable.
Whenever I do a parody it's not meant to make you hate anybody's music really.
When I go to my live shows it's often a multigenerational audience, a family bonding experience.
There aren't that many superstars around anymore.
There are probably a few library fines I haven't paid yet, but I'm a pretty clean-cut guy overall.
There are a lot of songs that would ostensibly be a good candidate for parody, yet I can't think of a clever enough idea.
I was a huge fan of 'Mad' magazine when I was 11, 12, 13 years old. I'd scour used bookstores trying to find back issues, and I'd wait at the newsstand for a new issue to come out. My life revolved around it.
At this point I've got a bit of a track record. So people realize that when 'Weird Al' wants to go parody, it's not meant to make them look bad... it's meant to be a tribute.
You still have Top 40 radio now, but it's 40 different stations. There aren't many hits that everybody knows, and there aren't many real superstars.
You fake something until you're good at it.
You don't need to be defined by your job.
I write and write and write, and then I edit it down to the parts that I think are amusing, or that help the storyline, or I'll write a notebook full of ideas of anecdotes or story points, and then I'll try and arrange them in a way that they would tell a semi-cohesive story.
I suppose I had my rock star fantasies while I was singing into my hairbrush in the bathroom mirror, but I never really consciously said, 'OK, this is what I'm going to do for a living and I'm going to be Weird Al.'
I make charts of songs that are good candidates, good targets, so to speak. Then I try to come up with ideas for parodies. And 99% of those ideas are horrible.
I did have a child, and I was reading a lot of picture books to her, but at the same time writing a children's book was something that I'd been wanting to do for many years, pretty much since the start of my career.
When I was a kid, I thought I was going to be an architect, because when I was 12 years old I had a guidance counselor that convinced me that that was the best career choice for me.
One of my pet peeves is that sometimes the talents of my band get overlooked because, and it was the same problem that Frank Zappa had, with a lot of groups that use humor, people don't realize there's a lot of craft behind the comedy.
Like, I have had moments, which I think most people have, where you'll be watching TV, and it'll be interrupted by some tragic event, and you'll actually find yourself thinking, 'I don't want to hear about this train being derailed! What happened to 'The Flintstones?''
It's hard to really articulate what the parameters are that make one song parody-able and another song not, but if I can come up with a good enough idea for it, I go for it, and if not, then I have to move on.
It becomes more important to me as time goes on to make every album the best thing I've ever done, so it's a lot of self-imposed pressure that also kind of slows me down a bit.
If I could find the right kind of property, get tied in with the right movie, I'd love to be involved, but I just find it hard to be motivated to do another screenplay right now.
What kind of morons do you have working at newspapers in Austin that would base an entire review of an artist's performance on whether or not they had a good seat?
Somebody will come up to me after a show and have me sign their arm, and the next time I see them my autograph has been permanently inscribed on their arm.
So that's why one of my rules of parody writing is that it's gotta be funny regardless of whether you know the source material. It has to work on its own merit.
One of the hardest things I've had to deal with in my career is keeping my material topical even though I only release albums every three or four years.

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