Cal Poly alumnus Alfred “Weird Al” Yankovic was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Aug. 27. Yankovic attended Cal Poly and was a DJ for KCPR, the student-run university radio station, where he earned his nickname,“Weird Al.”
Yankovic’s whimsical approach to campus radio was not always met with support from the station’s management in the 1980s.
“He had a huge following, but he wouldn’t play the current music that he was required to,” KCPR Program Director and wine and viticulture senior Ella Worley said. “He’d play it sped up or backwards or sing over it, so that made the people in charge of the station mad. It was a time when the management was trying to bring everything under control again after an alternative phase went a little too far.”
Yankovic was accepted into the university when he was only 16-years-old as an architecture student. During his time at Cal Poly, Yankovic quickly gained popularity at KCPR. It was 1979, and The Knack’s song “My Sharona” was one of the most popular songs of the time, playing on the station almost daily. Inspired by the song, Yankovic recorded a parody song titled, “My Bologna” in the men’s bathroom of the graphic arts building (building 26), where the radio station is located. A few months later, he signed his first record deal.
During his acceptance speech in Hollywood on Monday, between jokes and banter, Yankovic paused for a moment and said he was honored to be “immortalized” in the form of a Hollywood Star.
“This is just an unbelievable moment for me,” Yankovic said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined that one day I would be immortalized here on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, sharing the same prestigious honor as Ryan Seacrest and Wally Cox and Absolut Vodka.”
The award was not paid for by any large corporations as they typically are, according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Leron Gubler, who introduced Yankovic to the podium.
“The stars always require a sponsor,” Gubler said. “Usually it’s a studio or an agent or someone like that, but the star today, all the money for this star was raised by Weird Al’s fans.”
Over approximately 12 years, Yankovic’s fans collected money into a “Weird Al Star Fund” to get his name on the sidewalk. After getting denied countless times, it was finally approved.
“I’m completely overwhelmed by the love and support of the fans,” Yankovic said. “This means so much to me. I’ve said this in interviews many times over the years. Having my name on a star on a sidewalk, that’s cool. […] But just knowing that I have the love and support of the fans, people who would go through all this time and effort and money to do something completely crazy like this… that means everything in the world to me.”