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February 18, 2010

My-my-my-my Bologna!

First, a quick housekeeping note (usually Gordon handles this, but he's off today): we have updated our wishlist of what we still need for our documentary Yankoheit 27. Read it, won't you?

And unless you've been living under a rock, you already know that Al is starting to announce tour dates. We might--MIGHT--do a project this summer in which we'll need field operatives again as we have in years' past. It won't be the main campaign project this year, but we may need some help at these shows rallying fellow fans to the cause, so stay tuned...or let us know if you're ready and raring to go for certain shows no matter what.

But really, we wanted to take some time to note the passing of Doug Fieger, who died on Valentine's Day after suffering from brain cancer for several years. Doug was the frontman and chief songwriter of the Knack, the new wave group that a number of music historians credit as ending the "disco era" of popular music.

In the summer of 1979, the Knack had a huge hit with their debut single "My Sharona." The song was becoming so popular that Cal Poly's campus radio station, KCPR, was getting swamped with requests. This inspired student deejay "Weird Al" Yankovic to take his accordion into the bathroom across the hall from his studio and record a silly parody about luncheon meat: "My Bologna." Al sent the song to his friend and hero, Dr. Demento, who played it on his nationally syndicated comedy radio show to tremendous response.

Al was gaining little more than a cult following through his parody, but all that changed when the Knack played a concert at Cal Poly that fall (IF ANYONE KNOWS THE EXACT DATE OF THIS PERFORMANCE, PLEASE CONTACT US!). Al wormed his way backstage after the show and introduced himself to the band. Doug immediately knew who he was and turned to Rupert Perry, Capitol Records' vice president of A&R, and suggested that Capitol sign Al and release the parody. Rupert agreed, and by Christmas, "My Bologna" was out as a 45.

Doug remained a supporter and friend of Al's ever since then. Doug later appeared on Al's episode of Behind the Music, was one of the guests Al invited onto VH1's The List in August 2000, and even again gave Al permission to cover "My Sharona" for the bridge of "Trapped in the Drive-Thru" as a "Plan B" when it momentarily looked as if Led Zeppelin was going to be unresponsive.

And if there ever was any stronger indication of how much Doug was a fan of Al's and appreciated what he did, in 2004 he became the first celebrity to sign our first Rock Hall petition. We are forever grateful for his support and for the prestige and credibility that came with his participation.

The point is that Doug had a great sense of humor about himself and his work, and Al fans are grateful for the contribution he made to Al's early career. Doug was a wonderfully talented artist and he will be missed. Thank you, Mr. Fieger.