After nearly 40 years of parodying celebrities, the accordion-playing nerd has become a legend in his own right.
.. Yankovic was more than a good boy. He skipped second grade, got straight A’s and was Lynwood High’s valedictorian. As an only child, he was loved and sheltered.
.. He was so polite and respectful it almost hid his subversive genius. Yankovic’s parodies poked holes in the bubble of pop pretension. Take his treatment of the Michael Jackson hit “Beat It.”
.. Yankovic’s 1992 spoof of Nirvana would be another creative triumph.
To get permission, Yankovic called Kurt Cobain on the set of “Saturday Night Live,” where Nirvana was set to perform.
.. As his friend Miranda has reminded him, he doesn’t have to get permission from artists. Parody is protected by the First Amendment. But Yankovic has built his reputation on respecting artists’ wishes.
“I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings,” Yankovic says. “I don’t want to be embroiled in any nastiness. That’s not how I live my life. I like everybody to be in on the joke and be happy for my success. I take pains not to burn bridges.”
.. He also doesn’t need a label. Consider how he promoted “Mandatory Fun.” Record companies no longer provide video budgets. So Yankovic partnered with other outlets, including Funny or Die, College Humor and Nerdist. He launched his album by releasing eight videos in eight days.