The king of parody songs “Weird” Al Yankovic appeared on The Howard Stern Show on Tuesday to discuss his career while promoting his Return Of The Mandatory World Tour. Yankovic has parodied every genre from rock to 1st wave and hip hop, which means he has had some colorful encounters with some of the most iconic musicians of all time.
Over the course of his career, Yankovic repeatedly approached Prince to parody his songs but was always rejected. Yankovic said he had wanted to do his own versions of about half a dozen Prince songs, including 1999, Kiss, Let’s Go Crazy, When Doves Cry and others.
“He’d never give a reason, it was never like, ‘No, because …’ It was always just ‘no’ or a non-answer,” Yankovic recalled.
Prince’s disdain for people stealing his music was well-documented throughout his career, so it’s not a surprise he didn’t want his songs parodied. But Yankovic’s Prince stories don’t end there. He was once forbidden from looking in the direction of the legendary performer when he was seated in the same row at the American Music Awards, the parodist was informed, “Do not establish eye-contact.”
“I got a telegram from his office,” Yankovic said with a laugh. “It wasn’t a personal thing, I don’t think, because I was talking to some of the guys from Night Ranger and they were like, ‘Yeah, we got the same telegram.’”
In a much less difficult experience, Yankovic also recounted the time he approached Kurt Cobain to parody Nirvana’s hit Smells Like Teen Spirit. Yankovic said they spoke briefly over the phone and Cobain was very open to the idea, but had one question.
“I told him I wanted to do a parody of Smells Like Teen Spirit and his first thing was, ‘Is it gonna be about food,’” Yankovic said. “I said, ‘No, it’s gonna be about how nobody can understand your lyrics,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah that’s funny, sure.’
Yankovic continued: “[Cobain] loved it. One of my favorite quotes is when Kurt Cobain said he didn’t realize he had made it until he saw the ‘Weird Al’ video.”
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