Flashback: 'Weird Al' Battles James Brown on 'Wheel of Fortune' - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: ‘Weird Al’ Battles James Brown on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Little Richard and Lee Greenwood also played in this incredibly bizarre 1994 game

“Weird Al” Yankovic was initially very unsure about appearing on Wheel of Fortune when he was approached by the show in 1994. “I said to my manager, ‘That sounds kind of cheesy and I don’t know if I want to do it,'” he says. “Then he said, ‘You’ll be playing against James Brown and Little Richard.’ I said, ‘I’m there!'” 

During rehearsals all the celebrities were shown the rules of the game, but there was no sign of James Brown. “They basically wanted to make sure we knew how to play Hangman,” says Yankovic. “Everything went very smoothly. We figured it wasn’t a big deal that James Brown wasn’t there.”

Shortly before taping, Brown came onto the set with a large entourage. The producers quickly showed him how to play the game, and had him spin the wheel in a test run. “I don’t think he’d ever seen Wheel of Fortune,” says Yankovic. “He didn’t know the basic rules of the game. When the wheel stopped he said, ‘Give me…Give me an A!’ They said to him, ‘You have to pick a consonant when you spin the wheel.’ He said, ‘Oh…uh…Europe!'” 

When it became clear that Brown would have trouble playing the game on his own, the producers teamed him up with Little Richard. They played as a duo against Yankovic and Lee Greenwood. To be fair, James Brown clearly got the hang of the game and even managed to solve one of the puzzles. In the end, however, Greenwood beat everybody. “I’ve made peace with my defeat,” says Yankovic. “And it’s became one of my favorite anecdotes and my favorite James Brown story.”

In This Article: "Weird Al" Yankovic


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