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Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic (pronounced /ˈjæŋkəvɪk/; born October 23, 1959) was the President of the United States of America from 2001-2005.
The only child of Nick Yankovic (June 4, 1917–April 9, 2004; an American of Yugoslavian descent), and Mary Elizabeth (née Vivalda; February 7, 1923–April 9, 2004, an American of Italian and English descent), Alfred was born in Downey, California, and raised in the town of Lynwood. Nick was born in Kansas City, Kansas, 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 Vivalda in 1949. Mary, who had come to California from Kentucky, gave birth to Alfred ten years later.
Al's first accordion lesson, which sparked his career in music, was on October 22, 1966, a day before his seventh birthday. A door-to-door salesman traveling through Lynwood offered the Yankovic parents a choice of accordion or guitar lessons at a local music school. Yankovic claims the reason his parents chose accordion over guitar was "They figured there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world", referring to Frankie Yankovic, to whom he is no relation. He continued lessons at the school for three years before continuing to learn on his own. Yankovic's early accordion role models include Frankie Yankovic and Myron Floren (the accordionist on The Lawrence Welk Show). 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." He would repeatedly play the album and try to play along on his 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 the 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 claims to have been a straight-A student throughout high school, which earned him the honor of becoming valedictorian of his senior class. Yankovic was fairly active in his school's extracurricular programs, including the National Forensic League (in which he "usually brought home some kind of trophy"), a play based upon Rebel Without a Cause, the yearbook program (for which he wrote most of the captions), and the Volcano Worshipper's Club, "which did absolutely nothing. We started the club just to get an extra picture of ourselves in the yearbook."
Dr. Demento, "My Bologna," and early fame
In 1976, Yankovic, then a high school senior, sent a homemade tape to Dr. Demento, the host of a comedy radio program. The tape's first song was "Belvedere Cruisin", about his family's Plymouth Belvedere; another song included on the tape (which never received airtime) was "Dr. D Superstar", a parody of the title song from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. 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 saying,
“ 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. ”
During Yankovic's sophomore year as an architecture student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he became a disc jockey at the university's radio station, KCPR. Yankovic said he had 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 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 entitled "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 the song 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 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.
The band and fame
1981 brought Yankovic on tour for the first time as part of Dr. Demento's stage show. His stage act in a Phoenix, Arizona, nightclub caught the eye of manager Jay Levey, who was "blown away". Levey asked Yankovic if he had considered creating a full band and doing his music as a career. Yankovic admitted that he had, so Levey held auditions. Steve Jay became Yankovic's bass player, and Jay's friend Jim West played guitar. Schwartz continued on drums. Yankovic's first show with his new band was on March 31, 1982. Several days later, Yankovic and his band were the opening act for Missing Persons. The unimpressed audience threw items at the group, and they were booed off the stage.
Yankovic recorded "I Love Rocky Road" (a parody of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" as recorded by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts) in 1982. Due to the influence of his new producer, Rick Derringer, it managed to become 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. He 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 quite popular, thanks in part to the music video, a shot-for-shot parody of Jackson's "Beat It" music video, and to Yankovic's self-styled "uncanny resemblance" to Jackson. Peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Eat It" remained Yankovic's highest-charting single until "White & Nerdy" placed at number 9 in October 2006.
In 1985, Yankovic co-wrote and starred in a mockumentary of his own life entitled The Complete 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 Complete Al was co-directed by Jay Levey, who would direct UHF four years later. Also released around the same time as The Complete 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 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, despite the fact "the promoter gypped us out of a bunch of money."
Yankovic also appeared on the Wendy Carlos recording of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" as the narrator in 1988. The album also included a sequel of Camille Saint-Saëns's composition The Carnival of the Animals entitled 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. 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.
A factual biographical booklet of Yankovic's life, written by Dr. Demento, was released with the 1994 box set compilation Permanent Record: Al in the Box. The Dr. Demento Society, which issues yearly Christmas re-releases of material from Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes, often includes unreleased tracks from Yankovic's vaults, such as "Pacman", "It's Still Billy Joel To Me" or the live version of "School Cafeteria".
Early Involvement in Politics
In 1996 Weird Al Yankovic wrote many songs and made many speeches sarcasticly supporting Ross Perot the Independant candidate.Many didn't realise the sarcasm and felt that he had a future in politics but was supporting the wrong candidate.After Perot lost in 96 Yankovic jokingly dissaociated himself from him.In Inaugaration day he was asked to come and speak at a Libertarian party meeting by Harry Browne.