"Weird Al" Yankovic
During his long and illustrious tenure as rock 'n' roll's supreme parodist and its reigning King of the Accordion, "Weird Al" Yankovic has always had his finger firmly planted on the pulse of popular culture. He has amassed an extensive catalogue of memorable send-ups and original tunes and has been honored with two Grammy Awards (eight nominations), 20 gold and platinum awards in the U.S. and Canada, a four-CD boxed set retrospective, his own feature film, three best-selling home videos, several television specials for MTV, Showtime and the Disney Channel and now his very own network series. He has garnered consistent critical acclaim for the inventive music videos that have made him famous throughout the world, and is history's most prolific and successful comedy artist, having sold more funny albums than any other person on the planet.
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It all began in 1979 in the acoustically perfect men's room across the hall from the radio station at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where Al recorded his first parody, "My Bologna," a delicious spoof of the Knack's irrepressible "My Sharona." The song aired on the nationally syndicated Dr. Demento Show and launched one of the most enduring comedy careers of all time.
Since that memorable bathroom recording, Weird Al has given us such timeless tunes as "Another One Rides the Bus," "Ricky," "Eat It," "I Lost on Jeopardy," "Like a Surgeon," "Fat," "Smells Like Nirvana," "Jurassic Park," "Bedrock Anthem," "Headline News," "Amish Paradise" and so many more.
He is the undisputed Grand Poobah of Pop Culture, the man who has singularly redefined the world of musical comedy. He is a unique fixture in the pop mainstream and a true comic icon recognized alongside such venerable institutions as "Saturday Night Live" and Mad Magazine.
Al's most recent album, Bad Hair Day, is his 10th studio project (his fourth as producer) and represents his seventh platinum award. The disc, released in March of 1996, spawned the smash-hit first single, "Amish Paradise," a take-off of Coolio's mega-hit and Grammy Award-winning tale of urban life, "Gangsta's Paradise." The "Amish Paradise" video, which Al directed, recreated an Al's-eye-view of life in Lancaster, Penn. and featured a cameo by Brady lady Florence Henderson. Bad Hair Day also spoofed The Presidents of the United States of America's "Lump," which became "Gump," an ode to 1994's most talked-about film.
Al's long-standing tradition of polka medleys and original tunes continued on Bad Hair Day. On the hilarious "Alternative Polka," Al skewers the works of alterna-faves Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, Sheryl Crow, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M., Alanis Morissette, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden and Green Day. It's a strange but wonderful sensation to hear Al warble, "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage," to a polka backbeat worthy of Frankie Yankovic (no relation).
The original tunes that stylishly color Bad Hair Day include the irrepressibly quirky "Everything You Know is Wrong," the Seattle-flavored "Callin' In Sick," the street-corner doo-wop of "Since You've Been Gone," the Elvis Costello-styled bitterness of "I'm So Sick of You," and the demented Christmas rocker, "The Night Santa Went Crazy."
In a 17-year career chock full of notable hits, Bad Hair Day quickly became Al's highest-charting, fastest-selling album thus far. It spent a total of 56 weeks on Billboard's Top 200, where it peaked at No. 14, and has sold more than 1.7 million units.
During a short break between directing his own videos for "Amish Paradise" and "Gump," Weird Al wrote, directed and starred in the opening title sequence to the Disney movie Spy Hard. He received wide-spread critical accolades for his hilarious James Bond-style send-up from such notable publications as The New York Times, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and Variety. Next came "AL-TV," Al's seventh special for MTV. Premiering in May, on the eve of his "Bad Hair Tour," the show achieved powerful ratings at the music network and has since been repeated more than 35 times.
With solid back-up from his long-time band--guitarist Jim West, bassist Steve Jay, drummer/percussionist Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz and keyboardist Ruben Valtierra--Weird Al took his "Bad Hair Tour" to 95 cities across North America last summer. The tour, a must-see musical extravaganza, continued through September, stopping at a variety of prestigious halls including New York's Westbury Music Fair and Detroit's Meadowbrook Amphitheater, as well as state fairs, amusement parks and festivals, where audience attendance ranged from 5,000 to 30,000 per show.
Instead of taking a well-deserved break at the end of last year's tour, Al turned his creative energy toward directing once again. This time he went behind the lens to shoot the video "Wail" for the quirky blues/punk outfit The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
In December, "'Weird Al' Yankovic: There's No Going Home," a one-hour concert and comedy special, debuted on The Disney Channel and aired six more times throughout December and January 1997.
And 1997 is the year that Al got his own television series. Debuting August 16 on CBS, "The Weird Al Show," a half-hour comedy/variety show produced by Dick Clark Productions, aired on Saturday mornings. Taking place in Al's subterranean cave dwelling miles below the surface of the earth, the weekly series mixed sketch comedy, animation, celebrity guest appearances and musical performance with a running storyline in each episode to help promote a light educational message. The first Saturday morning show in many years created to appeal to both kids and adults, "The Weird Al Show" stood as the cornerstone of CBS' Saturday morning line-up.
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