The Bowling Stones
by Donna Rhodes
I met Weird Al Yankovic at a private soiree in the mid-90s.
An Orlando radio station was doing a promo. Weird Al was the draw. A small group of insiders was invited to a meet-and-greet prior to the event. A DJ buddy sneaked my teenage son and me into the party. It was at a bowling alley, Weird Al’s request. What better place to host an accordion-playing social satirist? Right down his alley.
For those who’ve not had an up-close-and-personal encounter, Alfred Matthew Yankovic, the regular guy who lives in the same body as Weird Al, is just that … a regular Joe. Kind of quiet. Pleasant. A bit shy.
But strap on an accordion and stick a mic in front of him, and watch his internal combustion rev up to a rage . . . those devilish eyes aglow.
If you aren’t familiar with his particular kind of madness, he writes, orchestrates, stages, records, and performs pop song parodies. He’s received Grammies, countless awards, and world-wide fame. Some of his spoofs have even made it to Billboard hits.
You may recall his video satirizing Michael Jackson’s “I’m Bad”/Weird Al’s “I’m Fat.” He nailed it, sounding like a Michael-clone and creating a spot-on video matching every Michaelian move . . . in a fat suit.
He’s taken on many other performers including Paul McCartney (“Live and Let Die”/”Chicken Pot Pie”), The Knack (“My Sharona”/”My Bologna”), Lady GaGa (“Born this Way”/”Perform This Way”), and Joan Jett (“I Love Rock and Roll”/”I Love Rocky Road”). He’s even done narrations for Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” And you’ve not lived until you’d danced to “The Angry White Boy Polka.”
W.A.Y is one of the few who have survived the rock and roll culture without boozing, drugging, smoking, swearing or eating anything with a face.
His list of idols explains a lot – Spike Jones, Mark Twain, Frank Zappa, Monty Python, The Smothers Brothers.
In turn, I’ll bet Weird Al helped pave the way for another of my faves, Randy Rainbow. Without these genius fun-pokers, this poor old world would be one disastrous gutter ball after another.
Keep scoring those strikes at the madness, Weird Al. Your fan club at The Bowling Stones awaits your latest download.