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.
Yankovic will take to the Clay County Fair grandstand in Spencer Friday night for a unique show.
Alfred Matthew Yankovic was born Oct. 23, 1959 in Lynwood, Calif. 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 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 Crusing" - 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 Knacks themselves, who convinced their label Capitol to issue the satire as a single.
Read the rest of this article in the 9/14 Pilot Tribune.