By WYATT MADDEN
Weird Al Yankovic didn’t start out his career intending to be a parody musician. But after a few three-hour shifts at his college radio station, where he earned the name “Weird Al” because of his on-air hijinks, it dawned on him that the architectural degree that he was working on would not be put to use. Instead, he wanted to entertain people through music.
“My dad always said that success means making a living doing what makes you happy,” Yankovic said.
Yankovic followed his dad’s advice—and to great success, selling more than 12 million albums over four decades of work and netting three Grammy’s and numerous awards for hits like “Eat It,” “Smells Like Nirvana,” “Fat,” and “Amish Paradise.” His hit song “White and Nerdy” remained number one on iTunes for two months.
Yankovic will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at the EKU Center for the Arts. Tickets will cost $49 for orchestra seats, $39 for grand tier seats. Yankovic will be accompanied by the 501st Legion Star Wars fan club for a Star Wars-themed portion of the show. Two Eastern dance club members will be performing as well.
Yankovic said music first entered his life when his parents bought him an accordion with accompanying lessons. He is also able to play other keyboard-based instruments, but the accordion was his first.
“My parents made that decision for me,” Yankovic said. “They never wanted me to be lonely, so I was like a one-man-band.”
During junior high, Yankovic had aspirations to work for Mad Magazine. But Yankovic said a teacher told him that they couldn’t see him in comedy. Around age 12, Yankovic had a graphing teacher who got him interested in architecture.
Other than playing music, Yankovic was very studious. He attended Lynwood High School where he graduated at age 16 as valedictorian.
Yankovic then attended California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, where he pursued a degree in architecture. He lived in campus dorms for his freshman year, and then lived off campus for the remainder of his degree.
“They called it ‘Architorture,’” Yankovic said. “I didn’t really sleep as it was. It was a state university so it wasn’t that expensive. I was able to get by without a part time job.”
During this time, Yankovic took shifts as a DJ for KCPR (his college radio station). He was known to play weird and humorous music on air. Also during this time, Yankovic recorded songs with his accordion and sent them to the Dr. Demento radio show, where Yankovic was played and began to receive a following.
“My Bologna,” was aired on Dr. Demento’s station and became a national single. Before Yankovic graduated college he had added another single, “Another One Rides the Bus.”
“It was a growing moment for me,” Yankovic said. “ The college radio was very important to me, it’s where I developed my personality and got the name ‘Weird Al.’”
This wasn’t work for Yankovic; it was pleasure. KCPR was Yankovic’s recreation on campus. Yankovic said that for three hours he just got to go crazy. His career is based on his love for pure entertainment.
“It’s something I’ve done since I was a small child,” Yankovic said. “I just never got out of the phase.”
Although Yankovic didn’t apply his architecture degree, he did follow his dad’s advice of doing what made him happy. Even with the debt that college may put on students, there are still opportunities there.
“It depends on what you want to do, it’s a personal choice,” Yankovic said, “If you enjoy what you’re doing in college then the debt shouldn’t be an issue.”