Weird Al Yankovic, also known as Alfred Matthew Yankovic, was born in Downey, California, on October 23, 1959. Yankovic is an American parodist who has released over 150 parodies and original compositions. He is a musician, producer, and author. In 2007, Yankovic became the most successful comedic recording artist, selling over 12 million C.Ds. His tunes made parodies popular — ‘Eat It,’ ‘Fat,’ ‘Smells Like Nirvana,’ ‘White & Nerdy,’ and ‘Word Crimes.’ His first huge success was a spoof of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It.’ Artistically, he has received four ‘Grammy Awards,’ the most recent in 2015 for “Mandatory Fun.” He has 15 Grammy nominations. His parodies include four gold and six platinum records in the U.S. Yankovic has dabbled with film as well as music. He authored and acted in “U.H.F.” (1989), which became a cult classic on V.H.S. He has also penned children’s novels such as “When I Grow Up” and “My New Teacher and Me!”
Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic
October 23, 1959
Alfred Matthew Yankovic was born in Downey, California, on October 23, 1959, and raised in the adjacent town of Lynwood. As an only kid, he began playing the accordion at seven after a salesman approached him about taking accordion or guitar lessons at a local music school. Yankovic claims his parents picked the accordion after being influenced by polka icon Frank Yankovic. He maintained his education at the institution for three years before embarking on his own. Yankovic, a huge fan of Elton John, stated that the album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was “partly responsible for my learning to play rock ‘n roll on the accordion.” Meanwhile, he stated that Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, Spike Jones, Allan Sherman, Shel Silverstein, and Frank Zappa were the inspirations for his comic and parody music, as well as “all the other fantastically sick and twisted musicians he was introduced to through the Dr. Demento Radio Show.”
In 1979, Yankovic sent ‘My Bologna,’ a parody of The Knack’s ‘My Sharona,’ to Dr. Demento, a prominent radio presenter specializing in oddities. The song, which Demento wrote and sang in a restroom across from his college radio station, was successful enough for Capitol to release it as a single. ‘Another One Rides the Bus’ is a spoof of Queen’s hit ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’ ‘I Love Rocky Road’ is a spoof of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ ‘I Love Rock ‘n Roll.’ It was recorded for his second album, “In 3-D”, released in 1984, a year after Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ became the most renowned video ever. The video for ‘Eat It,’ which mimicked the ‘Beat It’ clip, became viral on M.T.V., and the Grammy-winning song reached No. 15.
‘Smells Like Nirvana,’ a parody of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ was released in 1992 after a lengthy layoff. More than 104,000 copies of the album were sold in its first week on the Billboard 200 album list. The “Wall Street Journal,” Yahoo, Nerdist, College Humor, and YouTube included him in 2014’s “Mandatory Fun.”
In 1978, he produces 'Take Me Down,' a satire of local monuments.
Yankovic records a parody of the highly famous song ‘My Sharona’ by The Knack, and titles it ‘My Bologna.’
His second album makes big success on a parody of Michael Jackson's smash ‘Beat It.’
When he publishes 'Dare to Be Stupid' in 1986, he becomes the first to put out a C.D. comedy record.
For his 14th studio album in 2014, he puts out “Mandatory Fun,” which debuts at Number one on the Billboard Top 200.
Why We Love Weird Al Yankovic
Michael Jackson was his biggest fan
Weird Al Yankovic was confident from the outset that Michael Jackson would never agree to a parody of ‘Beat It’ called ‘Eat It,’ but to his surprise, Jackson considered the notion amusing. And that’s how he got a fan in Jackson.
He was a child prodigy
As a result of his superiority over his peers, Yankovic was permitted to skip the second grade in school. He has been a genius since his childhood.
He's written two children's books
Yankovic is a musician, but he is also a multi-talented individual who has authored two children's novels, among other things. He’s surely got a talent.
5 Surprising Facts
He’s played the accordion since childhood
Weird AI Yankovic has been playing the accordion since the age of seven.
He got names like Weird Al
He got the "Weird Al" nickname when he was a Cal Poly architecture student.
He made introductory parody
Yankovic taped an introduction parody of The Knack's song ‘My Sharona.’
He was rejected from McDonald's
The first time he tried to obtain a job at McDonald's, he couldn't even get an interview.
His first comedy album
Over the past half-century, there hasn't been a comedy album that has debuted at the top of the Billboard album chart.
Weird Al Yankovic FAQs
Is Al allowed to do his parodies?
All of the parody songs by Al have been granted permission. Legally, it’s perfectly okay for him to parody without permission, but maintaining the connections he’s developed over the years is more important to him than breaking copyright laws. It’s also Al’s desire that the song’s new lyrics and royalties be given him credit as a songwriter and his portion of the profits.
Have any artists ever turned Al down for a parody?
The fact that most recording artists have a decent sense of humor doesn’t mean Al is always allowed to imitate them. The only artist to turn Al down, again and again, has been The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
Who are Al's musical influences?
Dr. Demento Radio Show exposed Weird Al to a wide range of performers, including Spike Jones and Stan Freberg, Tom Lehrer and Allan Sherman; Shel Silverstein and Frank Zappa; and many others.
Weird Al Yankovic’s birthday dates