Parody Song Master Weird Al Yankovic: True Story Of A Comedy Genius

By | June 11, 2018

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Music/Video Parodist Al Yankovic holding food with chop-sticks at Bao Wow' Chinese restaurant in1986. (Photo by Ben Martin/Getty Images)

For "Weird Al" Yankovic, parody songs aren't just novelties -- they've been a successful career. "My Sharona," "Another One Bites the Dust," "I Love Rock 'n Roll," "Beat It," "Like a Virgin" -- these were some of the biggest hits of the late '70s and early '80s, but when Yankovic got ahold of them they became "My Bologna," "Another One Rides the Bus," "I Love Rocky Road," "Eat It," and "Like a Surgeon." 

How did an accordion-playing nerd from Lynwood, California, become the biggest comedy act of the MTV generation, adored by fans and honored with numerous Grammy Awards? For all who've enjoyed "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody songs over the years, here's a look back at his rise from goofy obscurity to (surprising) massive fame.

Did The World Need Another Accordion-Playing Yankovic?

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"Weird Al" Yankovic began taking accordion lessons on the day before his seventh birthday. He could have studied the guitar -- but his name got in the way. Yankovic explained the decision in the liner notes of his 1994 box set Permanent Record: "A door-to-door salesman came through our neighborhood, trying to solicit business for a local music school. Kids were offered a choice between guitar lessons and accordion lessons. Since Frankie Yankovic (no relation) was America's Polka King, my parents opted for accordion lessons, perhaps because they figured there should be at least one more accordion-playing Yankovic in the world."