Weird Al Yankovic remembers Michael Jackson in ´Rolling Stone´ as gracious in the face of parody

by Kelly Roberts

July 13th, 2009

He's known for sending up pop songs, but Weird Al Yankovic's latest piece is a straight-up remembrance of the star who inspired some of his most famous parodies: Michael Jackson. Yankovic, who warned that "other kids are starving in Japan, so eat it, just eat it," when he playfully mocked Jackson's "Beat It," and also turned "Bad" into "Fat," praises Jackson on as a gracious man who was able to poke fun at his songs.

"The first time around I pursued Michael Jackson about a song parody, it was a shot in the dark. We're talking about the most popular and famous person in the known universe, and here I was, this goofy comedy songwriter. He not only returned our phone calls, but he approved it," Yankovic writes.

Yankovic only met the singer in person on a few occasions, and he remebers him as "very soft-spoken, very quiet, but always very friendly to me."

He described his experiences of meeting Jackson as "otherworldly. He was and continues to be so iconic, it's hard to even conceive of him as a human being. He always was bigger than life," Yankovic says.

While Jackson might be credited with the height of Yankovic's career, ironically it later got a boost when Jackson said no to a parody of "Black or White." Instead Yankovic picked Nirvana.

Still Yankovic recognizes that for a parodist, your starting material is key, and his words ended up being a perfect comedic fit with Jackson's music - one that shot the imitator to fame.

"I don't know what kind of career I would have today if it hadn't been for Michael Jackson. In a very real sense, he jump-started my career. 'Eat It' basically changed me from an unknown into a guy that got recognized at Burger King."

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