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Friday, December 12, 2008

Who is Alfred Matthew Yankovic?

Who is Alfred Matthew Yankovic, the world knows him as "Weird Al" . He was born October 23, 1959 in Downey, California. He is a Grammy Award winning American singer, musician, actor, satirist, parodist, songwriter, music producer, accordionist, and television producer. Yankovic is known in particular for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts. Since his first-aired song parody in 1979, he has sold more than 12 million albums—more than any other comedy act in history—[1] recorded more than 150 parody and original songs,[2][3][4] and has performed more than 1,000 live shows.[5] His works have earned him three Grammy Awards among nine nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States. Yankovic's first top ten Billboard album (Straight Outta Lynwood) and single ("White & Nerdy") were both released in 2006, nearly three decades into his career.
In addition to recording his albums, Yankovic has written and starred in his own film, UHF, and his own television show, The Weird Al Show, and directed music videos for himself and other artists including Ben Folds, Hanson, and The Presidents of the United States of America. He has also made guest appearances on television shows such as Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, The Simpsons, Behind the Music, Johnny Bravo, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Sabrina, the Animated Series, Square One Television, Mathnet, Robot Chicken, and Transformers: Animated in addition to starring in his own Al TV specials.
The only child of Nick Yankovic (June 4, 1917–April 9, 2004; an American of Slovenian 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.[6] Nick was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and began living in California after serving during World War II.[7][8] He believed "the key to success" was "doing for a living whatever makes you happy" and often reminded his son of this philosophy.[7] Nick married Mary Vivalda in 1949. Mary, who had come to California from Kentucky, gave birth to Alfred ten years later.[7]
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.[7] He continued lessons at the school for three years before continuing to learn on his own.[6] 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."[7] 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."[9][6] Other sources of inspiration for his comedy come from Mad magazine,[7] Monty Python,[10] and the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker parody movies.[11]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.[7] 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.[7] 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. more

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