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|Frequently Asked Questions - and the answers!|
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 gives?
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...) - these songs are NOT by Al. If you want to verify whether or not a song is actually by Al, check the Catalogue page.
Did Al get eye surgery?
Yes, in January 1998 Al got LASIK (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) surgery to correct his near-sightedness. He now has better than 20/20 vision and no longer needs to wear glasses.
Is Al married?
He has never been married, he has no children, and yes, he is heterosexual.
What are Al's physical statistics?
Al is 6'-0" tall, weighs somewhere around 170 pounds, and has brown eyes and naturally curly (no perm!) reddish brown hair. His shoe size is 10 1/2, his shirt size is large and his pants are generally 32x34. His head is larger than human and few hats will fit him.
What is Al's home address and phone number?
It's… heyyyy, that's personal.
Okay, sorry. So, um… what's Al's real name?
Alfred Matthew Yankovic.
Does he have any brothers or sisters?
No, not yet. Al is an only child so far, but his parents (Nick and Mary) are still alive and well, so… you never know.
Does he have any pets?
No, not currently. Um… except for Harvey the Wonder Hamster, of course…
What's Al's astrological sign? And how old is he?
Al was born at 1:56 PM on October 23, 1959. You figure it out.
Where was Al born?
Al 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.
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.
Where does Al live now?
Al lives by himself in a modest home in the Hollywood Hills, just above the Sunset Strip.
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. (However, during the shooting of UHF, which was shot during his carnivorous years, he did eat real Twinkie-wiener sandwiches.)
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 as Al says, 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.
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"). A couple years later (1982) he finally got signed to Scotti Bros. Records, who have released all his albums through Bad Hair Day (1996.) Volcano Records eventually bought Scotti Bros., issuing Running With Scissors, and re-releasing Al's entire catalog on the Volcano/WAY Moby label.
Who are Al's musical influences?
Al always credits Spike Jones, Stan Freberg, Tom Lehrer, Allan Sherman, and all the other wonderfully sick and twisted artists that he was exposed to through the Dr. Demento Radio Show.
Where does Al get the ideas for his songs?
He says he's not sure, but thinks it may have something to do with his getting dropped on his head as a child.
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 for him 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. Al immediately sent Coolio a very sincere letter of apology for the misunderstanding, but has yet to hear back from him.
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… well, I would tell you, but my keyboard doesn't have that little "symbol thingy" on it.
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. If you're not sure whether a song is an original or a parody, check the writing credits in the CD sleeves of his albums.
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 never guaranteed, sometimes 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. Probably the most reliable way is to send a letter (and a stamp) to Close Personal Friends Of Al and ask real nice, although you may have to wait for a while (remember that glacier we talked about on our "correspondence" page?)
Is Al ever going to do a concert outside of North America?
Al and the band would love to do a world tour. However, especially because of the production value in his concerts, taking the show overseas becomes an expensive proposition. Since Al's fanbase outside of North America is relatively small, a world tour has always seemed impractical... However, if a concert promoter were to make the right offer, we'd be there in a heartbeat!
Has Al ever visited other countries?
Al spent a week or so in Japan in 1984 to do some TV appearances and shoot footage for the "Compleat Al" video. Al also appeared on Italian TV, performing "Lasagna" and doing some skits on a "Saturday Night Live"-type show. In 1989, he traveled to Australia and several European countries (including The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium) to promote "UHF," which for some inexplicable reason was renamed "The Vidiot From UHF" for the overseas market. (Trivia: In Mexico, "UHF" was known as "Los Telelocos.")
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. There are currently no plans to release the series on video, but we'll keep you posted.
What is Al's all-time favorite TV show and movie?
Al's a big fan of Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker comedies – his favorite TV show (aside from his own, of course) was the short-lived "Police Squad!" with Leslie Nielsen, and his favorite movie is "Top Secret!"
Where can I get Al's records, videos and merchandise?
Al's records and videos can be purchased (or ordered) from your favorite on-line store, local retail outlet, or on the weirdal.com Merchandise Page. Check our Audio/Video Catalogue for more info.
Where can I get a copy of Al's movie, UHF?
Unfortunately, UHF has been out of print for some time, and we know of no other way to obtain a copy outside of renting it (it's still available as a rental in many video stores) or somehow snooping out a used copy. In the meanwhile, we're doing everything we can to try and have it re-issued, but it will likely take some time before that happens (visualize another glacier).
Did Al release any songs that were not included on any of his studio albums?
Al recorded "Polkamon" which appears on the Pokémon The Movie 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.
If you're interested in 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 early recordings of "Gotta Boogie" and "Mr.Frump In The Iron Lung" can be found on the extremely rare Placebo e.p., released in 1981.
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), or directly from our Merchandise page.
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 does Al do for fun in his spare time??
Eat, sleep, go to the movies, go for long walks, watch TV, listen to CDs and play around on the computer.
For more info... be sure to check out the not-quite-official-but-still-pretty-darn-cool FAQ maintained by our close, personal friend Marty "Gumby" Lick. Oh, and also check out WAIS (Weird Al Information Source) maintained by our additional close, personal friend "Happy" Steve Chai!
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. (Thanks to yet another close, personal friend, Jeff Morris!)
If you still have an unanswered question, try looking through the Ask Al archives.
Or… feel free to "Ask Al" yourself!