Lost & Found: A Look Back at ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’s Humble Yet Awesome Beginnings
A young “Weird Al” Yankovic, playing accordion barefoot in quilted velvet pants and a frizzy ball of hair, looked positively hip next to square extraordinaire Tom Snyder. “Weird Al,” along with his buddy and future musical soul mate Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, flew out to New York in 1981 to make their first television appearance on the ‘Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder.’ Thus a musical legacy began.
Yankovic and Schwartz met while Yankovic was practicing ‘Another One Rides the Bus’ to play live on the Dr. Demento radio show. Schwartz, being a drummer, offered to bang on Weird Al’s accordion case to keep time and add a little rhythm part to the song. The success of that performance led to their gig on Tom Snyder’s show a little later.
Before ‘Another One Rides the Bus,’ “Weird Al” had already gained a little bit of attention for his version of the Knack’s ‘My Sharona,’ recording ‘My Bologna’ back in 1979 while still in college. It shot to the top of Dr. Demento’s Funny Five Countdown, and primed the public for ‘Another One Rides the Bus.’ It was a one-two punch that started down the path to fame, fortune and wearing a big fat suit all the time. Al’s no jerk — when he performs live, he gives the people what they want. He still performs ‘Fat’ and ‘Eat It’ live today.
We were lucky enough to speak with “Weird Al” about a few things, including what his process is when doing an original song in the style of a particular band. He said the Pixies are one of his favorite bands. He got to sing a song with the band at a benefit show. One of his new singles, ‘First World Problems,’ is a bit of an homage to of the Pixies. He talks more about his pastiche songs, as well as seeking the blessing of an artist to parody a song, in the video below.