He Studied Architecture At A Central Coast University, But Music Stardom Was "Weird Al's" Future
For nearly four decades, a onetime Central Coast college student has been entertaining audiences with his parodies of pop culture. The wild imagination of “Weird Al” Yankovic turned popular music (and music videos like Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”) into hit parody songs and videos.
Now, the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate has finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Yankovic’s story started in the LA suburb of Lynwood, where he grew up, learning to play the accordion along the way. The high school class valedictorian went to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he majored in architecture.
Then he discovered college radio while working at Cal Poly’s student station, KCPR. He also started dabbling with making parodies of popular music.
Yankovic used the sounds of the bathroom across from the radio station to turn a hit song by the band “The Knack” called “My Sharona” into his own ode to lunchmeat, “My Bologna.” Yankovic sent his song to a popular syndicated radio show focused on parodies and novelty songs, “The Dr. Demento Show,” and his career was off and running.
It’s led to 11 Grammy nominations, four Grammys, four gold records, and concert events at the Hollywood Bowl and New York’s Radio City Music Hall. His latest honor is a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, right across the street from the TCL Chinese Theater.
What made the ceremony unique was the fact that unlike most stars, Yankovic's wasn’t paid for by a studio or record label. Instead, thousands of fans raised more than $40,000 to make it happen.
Yankovic admitted it was hard to be cool about the honor. He couldn’t resist joking about the whole thing, telling people he was honored, but asking fans not to pickaxe his star, in a reference to the recent vandalism of President Donald Trump's star.
Among those on hand for the ceremony were some of his Cal Poly classmates. Randy Kerdoon is a longtime sports anchor at KNX Newsradio in Los Angeles, and says it’s hard to believe that 39 years ago they were all sitting in a radio studio at Cal Poly doing radio plays.
Yankovic says when his music career runs out of gas, maybe he’ll put his Cal Poly degree in architecture to work. For now, though, he’s enjoying the fact he now has a star on the Walk of Fame.