“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” features a door-to-door salesman who visits Yankovic’s home and introduces young Al to guitars and accordions. According to The New York Times Magazine, that’s true, although it wasn’t Yankovic’s choice of instrument. In real life, that choice between guitar and accordion was made by his mother, Mary, who chose the latter because Frankie Yankovic (no relationship) was America’s reigning “Polka King” (via Demented Music Database).
Guitars might have been cooler, but Yankovic really liked his accordion. The first lesson was held on October 22nd, 1966, the day before Yankovic’s seventh birthday, and his teacher showed him the difference between the beginner, intermediate and adult accordions. Spending so much time at home, Yankovic made rapid progress on his accordion and was able to play some of his favorite albums, including Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, from an early age. Despite his mastery of the instrument, Yankovic says he still uses a medium-sized accordion because it’s easier to play when he’s jumping across the stage.
Yankovic’s accordion helped him overcome what he described as “morbid shyness”. In college, he performed at the behest of his dorm roommates, breaking uncomfortable barriers in the process. It also helped Yankovic bond with Joel Miller, who remains a friend to this day.