I've found some songs on the Internet that are supposedly by Al, but I've never heard them on any of his albums. What the hey?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of song parodies floating around the Internet being attributed to Al which are in fact done by somebody else. "Star Wars Cantina," "Windows 95 Sucks," "Living La Vida Yoda," "Combo No. 5," "What If God Smoked Cannabis," "He Got The Wrong Foot Amputated" (the list goes on and on... some of the titles are unprintable in a family-friendly web site) - these songs are NOT by Al. If you want to verify whether or not a song is actually by Al, check the Catalog page.
How did Al get his start in the music business?
As a teenager, Al began sending homemade tapes of his songs to Dr. Demento, a nationally syndicated disc jockey known for playing comedy and novelty music. Demento found a certain charm in the accordion-powered ditties that Al recorded on a cheap cassette player in his own bedroom, and gave him his first airplay. By the time Al graduated from college, he not only had a modest cult following from the good Doctor's radio show, but he also had a couple of nationally-released singles ("My Bologna" and "Another One Rides The Bus"). In 1982 he signed a deal with Scotti Bros. Records, who went on to release all of his albums through Bad Hair Day (1996). Volcano Records eventually bought Scotti Bros. Records, issuing Running With Scissors and Poodle Hat, and re-releasing Al's entire catalog on the Volcano/Way Moby label.
Does Al get permission to do his parodies?
Al does get permission from the original writers of the songs that he parodies. While the law supports his ability to parody without permission, he feels it's important to maintain the relationships that he's built with artists and writers over the years. Plus, Al wants to make sure that he gets his songwriter credit (as writer of new lyrics) as well as his rightful share of the royalties.
What do the original artists think of the parodies?
Most artists are genuinely flattered and consider it an honor to have Weird Al parody their work. Some groups (including Nirvana) claim that they didn't realize that they had really "made it" until Weird Al did a parody of them!
What about Coolio? I heard that he was upset with Al about "Amish Paradise."
That was a very unfortunate case of misunderstanding between Al's people and Coolio's people. Short version of the story: Al recorded "Amish Paradise" after being told by his record label that Coolio had given his permission for the parody. When Al's album came out, Coolio publicly contended that he had never given his blessing, and that he was in fact very offended by the song. To this day we're not exactly sure who got their facts wrong, but Al sincerely apologizes to Coolio for the misunderstanding.
Have any artists ever turned Al down for a parody?
Even though most recording artists really do have a pretty good sense of humor, on a few very rare occasions Al has been denied permission to do a parody. Actually, the only artist to turn Al down consistently over the years has been the Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. Go figure.
Does Al only do parodies of other songs?
Uh, no. About half of the songs on Al's albums are originals, meaning that Al wrote the music as well as the lyrics. Some originals are in the style of another artist (like "Bob" or "Genius In France"), but they're still entirely new compositions. If you're not sure whether a song is an original or a parody, check the writing credits in the liner notes of Al's albums.
Who are Al's musical influences?
Al credits Spike Jones, Stan Freberg, Tom Lehrer, Allan Sherman, Shel Silverstein, Frank Zappa and all the other wonderfully sick and twisted artists that he was exposed to through the Dr. Demento Radio Show.
What's Al's full name?
Alfred Matthew Yankovic.
Where was Al born?
Al is the only child of Nick & Mary Yankovic. He grew up in Lynwood, California (a suburb of Los Angeles), although the hospital he was actually born in was in the neighboring town of Downey.
How old is he now?
Al was born at 1:56 PM on October 23, 1959. You figure it out.
Where did Al go to school?
Al attended Lynwood High school, where he was a straight-A student and graduated as Valedictorian at the age of 16. From there he went to the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, where he got a degree in Architecture.
Did Al ever have any "real" jobs before he got famous?
In high school Al was a part-time accordion teacher and occasional accordion repo-man (don't ask). After graduating from college, Al decided that architecture was not for him, so he worked for a few years in the mailroom and later at a desk job for a large radio syndication company in Culver City, California.
What are Al's physical statistics?
Al is 6'-0" tall and weighs between 170 and 175 pounds (when he's in shape). He has brown eyes and naturally curly (no perm!) reddish brown hair. His shoe size is 10½, his underwear size is Medium, his shirt size is usually Large, and his head is larger-than-human.
What happened to Al's moustache and glasses?
In January 1998 Al got LASIK (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) surgery to correct his near-sightedness, so he no longer needs to wear glasses. He decided to get rid of the facial hair about the same time, although he sometimes grows it back when nobody's looking.
What is Al's marital status?
Al got married on February 10, 2001 to his wife Suzanne. They have a daughter named Nina, born February 11, 2003.
Where does Al live now?
Al and his family divide their time between homes in the Hollywood Hills and Maui.
Is Al related to the famous accordion-playing Polka King, Frankie Yankovic?
No, although they were friends for many years. (In October 1998, Frankie passed away at his home in Florida at the age of 83.)
What nationality is Al?
Al's grandparents on his father's side were Yugoslavian, and on his mother's side they were Italian and English.
How did Al get the name "Weird Al"?
Although he seems to remember people calling him "Weird Al" during his freshman year in the Cal Poly dorms, it didn't become official until Al started doing shifts as a DJ at his campus radio station, KCPR. He gave himself the air-name of "Weird Al" because of his penchant for playing music that was, well, kind of weird... and the nickname just kind of stuck.
What instruments does Al play?
Although he can play other keyboard instruments, the accordion has always been Al's main "axe," and he continues to play it on record as well as in concert. His first lesson was on the day before his 7th birthday. After three years of accordion lessons, he quit, deciding to continue learning on his own.
Is Al a vegetarian?
Yes. He changed his diet in 1992 after a fan gave him a book called "Diet For A New America." He currently eats no meat and also tries to avoid eggs and dairy products.
Can I send my song ideas to Al?
Sorry, for legal and personal reasons, Al does not accept song ideas from fans (he's got plenty warped ideas on his own!) You might try following in Al's footsteps by recording your songs and sending them to Dr. Demento - maybe you'll hear yourself on the radio!
How can I get an autograph from Al?
While it's certainly never guaranteed, sometimes after one of his concerts Al will meet with fans and sign autographs before he's ready to leave the venue (around an hour or so after the show has ended). He also occasionally holds in-store signing appearances. You can also try sending a letter (and a stamp) to Close Personal Friends Of Al and asking reeeeal nice, but be prepared to wait a good, long while.
Where can I get Al's records, videos and merchandise?
Al's records and videos can be purchased (or ordered) from your favorite local retail outlet or on-line store, or directly from the weirdal.com Merchandise page. Check our Audio/Video Catalog for more info.
Where can I get sheet music for Al's songs?
Try The "Weird Al" Yankovic Anthology, a songbook featuring complete lyrics and sheet music for piano, vocal and guitar on 13 Weird Al favorites ("Harvey The Wonder Hamster," "Jurassic Park," "You Don't Love Me Anymore," "Frank's 2000" TV," "Since You've Been Gone," "One More Minute," "Good Old Days," "Headline News," "The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota," "Christmas At Ground Zero," "Smells Like Nirvana," "Eat It" and "Yoda"). You can order it from your favorite music store (Cherry Lane, Order #ISBN 1-57560-021-8)
What is "The Authorized Al"?
"The Authorized Al" (written by Tino Insana with some help from Al) is a book that was published by Contemporary Books in 1985. It was released as a companion piece to the home video mockumentary "The Compleat Al." Unfortunately, the book has been out of print for quite some time and is extremely rare.
What happened to The Weird Al Show?
The Weird Al Show was a Saturday morning (in most markets) half-hour TV show on CBS starring Al and a recurring cast of characters, including the Hooded Avenger (Brian Haley), Madame Judy (Judy Tenuta), J.B. Toppersmith (Stan Freberg) and of course, Harvey the Wonder Hamster. Although it was an educational TV show (by FCC requirement), the show managed to sneak in a little of Al's subversive humor - as well as a few very cool guest stars and musical acts. Unfortunately, in January 1998 the management at CBS decided to cancel their entire Saturday morning lineup. The Weird Al Show ran from September 13, 1997 to September 26, 1998. Shout! Factory released the complete series on DVD on August 15, 2006.
What is Al’s Brain?
July 2009 saw the debut of “AL’S BRAIN: A 3-D Journey through the Human Brain with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic” at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, California. It was seen by a quarter of a million people there, and went on to have another successful run at Western Washington’s Puyallup Fair in September, 2009.
What is AL-TV?
Every now and then (oddly enough, usually around the time that there's an album to promote) Al will dust off his pirate satellite broadcasting transmitter and take over the airwaves of MTV or VH1. Al has done 10 AL-TV specials since 1984, with the shows ranging between 1 hour and 4 hours in length. During the course of a typical special, Al "interviews" some of his close personal friends in the music biz, shows off the talents of his best-friend-in-the-whole-world Harvey the Wonder Hamster, and of course plays all the videos that HE wants to watch!
What is Alcon?
Alcon is a "Weird Al" Yankovic convention that is put on for fans, by fans. The last one took place April 26-27, 2002 at the World Famous Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn. It featured Al talking about what fans could expect on the upcoming DVD for UHF and Bermuda showing some rare and exclusive video from his personal collection. Both signed autographs and took pictures with the several hundred fans who came from around the world to attend. There have officially been 3 Alcons so far, and there may or may not be more in the future.
Did Al release any songs that were not included on any of his studio albums?
Al recorded "Polkamon" which appears on the Pokémon 2000 soundtrack. The "Theme From Spy Hard" is available only as the B-side of the "Gump" single. And the Crash Test Dummies parody "Headline News" did not appear on a studio album, although it did come out on the Permanent Record box set, Greatest Hits - Vol. II and its very own CD single. A few of Al's CD singles have featured alternate mixes and karaoke versions of some of his songs as bonus tracks, so you may want to track those down as well.
Where can I track down Al's really old stuff?
Every year around Christmastime the Demento Society mails out a special CD - Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes - to its members, that usually includes an ancient "unreleased" track from Al, like "Pacman" or "It's Still Billy Joel To Me." "School Cafeteria" was released as the B-side of the "My Bologna" single (Capitol Records, 1979) and a live version appears on Basement Tapes #7. A song about Al's college town (San Luis Obispo, California) called "Take Me Down" was originally issued on a very rare 1978 album called SLO Grown, and also appears on Basement Tapes #8 and a CD compilation called SLO Unplugged II, and the demos for "I Love Rocky Road" and "Stop Draggin' My Car Around" appear on Basement Tapes #9 and #10 respectively. "Baby Likes Burping" appears on #11 (released in May, 2003), a demo of "The Check's In The Mail" appears on #12 (released in April, 2004), an early recording of "Gotta Boogie" appears on #13 (released in May, 2005), and "You Don't Take Your Showers" appears on #14 (released in February, 2006). Early recordings of "Gotta Boogie," "Happy Birthday" and "Mr.Frump In The Iron Lung" can be found on the extremely rare 1981 Placebo EP release of "Another One Rides The Bus."
You may also want to read the text of the booklet from "Permanent Record - Al In The Box" to learn more about Al than anybody really needs to know.
If you still have an unanswered question, try looking through the Ask Al archives.