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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Locally Based 1984 Publishing Releases Book of Rare Weird Al Photos

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2020 at 12:03 PM

click to enlarge JON "BERMUDA" SCHWARTZ
  • Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz
Cleveland-based 1984 Publishing has just published Black & White & Weird All Over: The Lost Photographs of 'Weird Al' Yankovic '83 – '86, a hardbound coffee table book that contains hundreds of black-and-white photos of Weird Al that were never developed after they were first taken by Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, Yankovic’s drummer and photographer since 1980, some 40 years ago.

The photos had been hidden in a file cabinet on contact sheets.

“The last several decades have been an amazing ride," Yankovic says in a statement about the book. "More than once — an annoying number of times, actually — Jon has warned me, ‘Someday I’m going to write a book about all this!’ It became a bit of a running joke. But now, he’s actually made good on the threat.”

The book provides rare behind-the-scenes glimpses on the sets of Yankovic’s initial music videos, including “Ricky,” “I Love Rocky Road” and “Eat It,” along with a smattering of studio shots while Yankovic and the band were recording In 3-D and Polka Party! in the early-to-mid '80s.

The book is available locally at Loganberry and Mac’s Backs as well as at the typical national vendors.

Additional content is available at

To help promote the book’s release, Schwartz, recently weighed in on his favorite Cleveland stops — Weird Al loves the market and has played the area (including Akron, Youngstown, Cleveland Heights) over two dozen times.

Here are six Cleveland tour stops that have stuck in Schwartz’s cranium over the years.

The First Tour (album: 'Weird Al' Yankovic)
Agora Ballroom
June 8, 1983

Memorable for a few reasons: Firsts are always fun, and this was our first tour and our first trip to Cleveland. We loaded in right after Modern English's lunchtime radio concert, and enjoyed some of their leftover fried chicken by throwing it into an uncovered heating duct sticking out of the wall. And, of course, we stayed at the legendary/infamous Swingo's! Touring was new to us; we didn't even have a name for this outing. That would change the following year! Since we had only one album out at this point, we played some unreleased songs such as “It's Still Billy Joel To Me,” “Take Me To The Liver,” “We Got the Beef,” “Pacman,” “I'm Stupid Blues,” and some soon-to-be-recorded songs like “Yoda,” “Eat It” and “Theme From Rocky XIII.”

Tour of the Universe in 3-D (album: In 3-D)
Camelot Music Convention
August 24, 1984

With the success of the In 3-D album and "Eat It" single, Al was now a real commodity for music vendors. Al's record label had us play a convention for the Camelot Music record stores, held at the Sawmill Creek resort in Huron. We played for one hour, which was most of our show. Although we now had two albums' worth of songs to choose from, we still included some “concert-only” songs like “Flatbush Avenue,” “Spameater” and more from the previous tour. The store managers and company execs in attendance loved us! Band name for the tour: The 3-D Band.

The Stupid Tour (album: Dare To Be Stupid)
The Front Row Theater
August 21, 1985

Theater-in-the-round is interesting for any performer, and this was an early type gig for us. In these venues, the stage rotates so the entire audience gets to “face” the band, as well as view them from the back and sides as they spin. Such venues are affectionately known as "whirly-gigs" although possibly not by the sound and light crew who have to grapple with the changing sound and lighting as the band turns. It's also a little unusual for the performers knowing they're being viewed from behind about 25 percent of the time. "Like a Surgeon" was the single for this tour, and rather than give the band a name like the Doctors of Rock or maybe the Practioners of Parody, we were called the Stupid Band after the name of the album and tour. And, of course, I was the Stupid Drummer. Looking back, I guess that made sense.

The Alapalooza Tour (album: Alapalooza)
Agora Ballroom
August 18, 1994

A different location from our first Agora show, that venue burned down with the firefighters reporting that it smelled like chicken (hmmm, I wonder...). This was a birthday gig for me, and since we usually toured during the summer months, I often played on my birthday (16 of them to be exact.) But the fun part was the encore, when Al ran back out onto a dark stage, knocking over Ruben's keyboard rig! The lights came up, Ruben looked aghast, and Al looked back at the pile of keyboards with a "did I do that?" look. Band name for the tour: The Alapaloozers.

The Bad Hair Tour (album: Bad Hair Day)
Nautica Stage
July 27, 1996

Our first of several appearances there and the first time we'd had people viewing us from the back (from their boats on the river) who hadn't paid for seats! The Goodtime ship was of course back there, honking (as if we weren't making enough noise on our own!) I especially enjoyed the Flats and often ate at the nearby restaurants instead of the free meal provided by the venue. Band name for the tour: The Bad Hair Band.

The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour
Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square
March 25, 2018

Our first time playing downtown, and without a new album to promote it was a special tour: a show of almost entirely Al original songs, including many that had never been performed live before. With 51 of Al's originals on the list, it was a different show each night, and we also played a different cover song at each of the 77 shows on the tour. That night it was "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry, one of my favorites to play in other bands. Also, what a beautiful venue! A Cleveland gem for sure. Band name for the tour: The No Frills Band

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Speaking of Black & White & Weird All Over: The Lost Photographs Of 'Weird Al' Yankovic '83 – '86, 1984 Publishing

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