It was hot in Henderson, Nevada where “Weird Al” Yankovic was in concert. “I’m going to have a heatstroke,” he said in a telephone interview.
The weather could be sizzling here when “Weird Al” takes the outdoor Grandstand Stage at the Minnesota State Fair on September 1. “I’ve been in Minneapolis and St. Paul 17 times, that I can remember,” he said. “Maybe more. It’s awesome.”
Born Alfred Matthew Yankovic in 1959, Yankovic says he has performed thousands of concerts, “up in the four [thousand] digits by now.” He said he stays motivated because it is still fun. “They keep paying me to perform. It beats having to work for a living. I feel blessed to do this sort of thing for a living.”
Yankovic describes himself as the “undisputed king of pop culture parody” and claims he has sold more comedy recordings than any other artist in history, amassed 30 Gold and Platinum albums, seven Gold and Platinum-certified home videos and three Grammy Awards with 11 nominations.
According to his official website, Yankovic remembers people calling him “Weird Al” during his freshman year in the Cal Poly dorms but it didn’t become official until he 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 kind of weird… and the nickname stuck.
Other band members who will appear at the Grandstand concert include Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz on drums and percussion, Jim West on guitar, Steve Jay on bass, and Ruben Valtierra, touring keyboardist.
Yankovic said his State Fair show will be a high energy, multi-media show with lots of costumes. “We have various costume changes every five minutes.”
Yankovic is a fan of rides, but doesn’t think he will go on any while he is at the State Fair. “Normally I can’t ride the rides; it’s hard for me to be incognito,” he said.
Will he perform his classics? “What’s the point of all the old songs?” he asked. “I want to do an all-Mariah-Carey set, and dress like her. I’ll probably do a parody of Coolio, but I like that Mariah Carey idea.”
Amber Cramer, of Apple Valley, is an Army staff sergeant with the 372nd Engineer Brigade currently serving in Shahran, Afghanistan and had a Facebook message for Yankovic. “Tell him this Chic in Afghanistan grew up on him! My mom bought us all his CDs and played them in the Blazer when she picked us up from school and all my friends thought I was so cool.” Yankovic’s normally overexcited voice got quiet and he said, “Isn’t that so sweet.” He also gave Amber a personal hello.
Another Facebook fan, Evan Smith of Minneapolis, said Yankovic “got him through grade school.”
“Weird Al” and Social Media
Known for making light of popular culture, Yankovic has taken full advantage of social media. He said his Twitter followers number more than 1.8 million and his Facebook profile picture portrays him as a “gangsta from Straight Outta Lynwood.” His Facebook page has over 213,000 fans. He regularly posts videos on his website.
Since 2006, Yankovic’s YouTube channel views stand at 4.5 million with 113,000 subscribers. He was voted #88 on YouTube’s most-subscribed all time musicians. His total views are over 89 million.
“Weird Al” is best known for his original accordion-assisted popular song parodies such as his first single, 1979’s “My Bologna,” a parody of The Knack’s “My Sharona.” Since then, he has recorded over 150 parodies and sold more than 12 million albums. Other hit singles include “White and Nerdy” and “Smells Like Nirvana.”
Yankovic is known for his bogus interviews with celebrities like Carey, Madonna (at over a million YouTube views), Paul McCartney, Paula Abdul, and Eminem on his show Al TV, which is being revived on the Internet.
Yankovic’s 1997 13-episode production of The Weird Al Show is now out on DVD. He said he has plans to go back to TV. “I am excited. I have been on the road all year and this is so hard. I’m returning to television to do a TV show, but I can’t say right now what it is.”
He said some of his favorite things to do are “go bowling and take long walks on the beach. I probably enjoy doing live shows the most because of the live presence and the immediate gratification of the audience. I love that.”