After four decades, “Weird Al” is still at the forefront of popular culture, with a tour, a book, and a movie on the way.
He’s sold 12 million albums, won five Grammy awards, and has six platinum records—not bad for a parody singer, accordion player, and self-proclaimed nerd. And with a new album and a biopic on the way, “Weird Al” isn’t slowing down. He’s bringing his latest tour to the Peace Center on August 18.
Called “The Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour,” the show includes a few favorites from his fourteen-album catalog as well as original songs many fans haven’t heard. The show is more bare-bones than those from his heyday in the ’80s and ’90s, with no costumes or video screens, just the talented band that’s backed him for forty years.
Born Alfred Matthew Yankovic in 1959, he grew up in Downey, California. His life was altered in 1976, when Dr. Demento, a comedy radio personality, spoke at his high school, and Yankovic slipped him a homemade tape of parody songs, which Demento proceeded to play on-air.
In college, where Yankovic earned the nickname “Weird Al,” he became a disc jockey for his school radio station, and by senior year, he had written one of his most popular songs, “My Bologna,” parodying “My Sharona” by the Knack.
These days, his long red ringlets are graying, but Yankovic is having as much fun as ever, and is checking off his goals one by one, including a new book, The Illustrated Al, expected in November. In the book, artists and cartoonists present art inspired by twenty of Yankovic’s classic songs. “It’s an incredible honor to see my song lyrics brought to life by some of my all-time favorite cartoonists and illustrators,” Yankovic said, as reported by Rolling Stone.
Yankovic also cowrote Weird, a film starring Daniel Radcliffe that tells his life story, which will be released on Roku this fall. “When my last movie UHF came out in 1989, I made a solemn vow to my fans that I would release a major motion picture every 33 years, like clockwork,” Yankovic said in a press statement. “I’m very happy to say we’re on schedule.” That’s all in addition to his North American tour, which includes 133 shows, ending at Carnegie Hall in October.
Comedian Emo Phillips, who starred with Yankovic in the film UHF, will open the Peace Center show, during which you can expect some surprises. Al has been closing with an unplugged medley, often featuring his top hits like “Amish Paradise,” White & Nerdy” and “Yoda,” followed by an encore cover song that could be anything from “China Grove” by the Doobie Brothers to “Blister in the Sun” by Violent Femmes.
You Can Go
Peace Center, 300 S Main St, Greenville. August 18, 7:30 p.m. $45-$75. 864-467-3000, peacecenter.org
Weird Al’s Best Songs of All Time
(according to American Songwriter)
- “Amish Paradise”
- “Eat It”
- “Like A Surgeon”
- “Polka Face”