Former NBC Saturday Night Live cast member and comedy writer Adam Sandler successfully fused his own brand of goofy, offbeat humor with rock music in his 1993 platinum debut album, they're all gonna laugh at you!, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. When he released What the Hell Happened to Me? in 1995, he cemented his popularity and proved that his foray into music was more than just a temporary comedie fluke.
Although Sandler's material is created for comedie effect, his band has proven to be genuinely accomplished and impressive. Sandler's band is led by guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who toured with Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos and played with Fleetwood Mac. Bassist Bob Glaub, a longtime L.A. session pro, worked with Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and Bruce Springsteen. Guitarist Teddy Castilucci arranged and worked with Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, and Michael Bolton. Drummer Don Heffington worked with Bob Dylan, and keyboardist Mike Thompson played on Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill album.
Sandler's musical tours and albums are best described as an accomplished musical rock comedy show with scatological undertones. He plays original, humorous songs like "Lunchlady Land" and "Red Hooded Sweat-shirt," and covers rock classics by musicians such as Led Zeppelin, Barry White, and Bob Marleyusicians and groups he listened to as a teenager in Manchester, NH. He told the Hartford Courants Roger Catlin, "I had a garage band in high school called Final Warning. That was the best name we came up with. And we did Led Zeppelin." Sandler was also influenced in high school by Aerosmith and Black Sabbath.
Although he was born in Brooklyn, NY, Sandler spent most of his childhood in Manchester, NH, where he lived from the age of 5 through 17, and where most of his immediate family still resides. Sandler's father, a retired electrical engineer, served as one of Sandler's earliest test audiences, as did Sandler's mother, a retired nursery school teacher, and his brother and two sisters. "Most of what I think came from my years in New Hampshire," he told the Boston Herald s Dean Johnson, "You learn to respect the beauty of the place." He told Johnson that he went into comedy because he "didn't have anything else to do."
Started with Stand-Up Comedy
In 1984 Sandler and his brother went to the Boston comedy club Stitches where, at his brother's urging, the 17 year-old Sandler took the stage and first tried his hand at stand-up comedy. He was going to attend New York University, and hadn't planned on becoming acomedian until that fateful nightven though he bombed on stage.
While earning a fine arts degree from New York University, Sandler managed to balance schoolwork with appearances at Manhattan comedy clubs. Comedian Dennis Miller, then a cast member on Saturday Night Live, saw one of Sandler's shows and told his boss, Lome Michaels, about Sandler's comedy prowess. Michaels then saw the show himself and hired Sandler for a writing slot on "Saturday Night Live" in 1990. Sandler told the Pittsburgh Press's Ed Masley, "I would write myself Into the skits. I snaked my way onto the air. The old dipsy-doodle, I pulled."
Sandler performed musical comedy for five years on Saturday Night Live, appearing as Axl Rose, Eddie Vedder, Opera Man, Canteen Boy, Cajun Man, or a banjo-strumming singing poet, but he enjoyed a wider berth on his own albums, with R-rated lyrics far racier than the material allowed on television. Sandler told Catlin, "I do curse a lot, I must tell you. But it's not meanspirited". Sandler's home page on the Internet includes a warning not to read it if you're under the age of 17 or if your parents are home.
Humorous Spin On Classics
Since leaving "Saturday Night Live," Sandler sold over 1.5 million copies of his two musical comedy albums. "The Chanukah Song" on What the Hell Happened to Me? was Immensely popular in 1995, and the album surpassed gold status halfway through 1996. Sandler took a summer tour in 1996 to promote What the Hell Happened to Me?, and described the tour Scott Cronick of the Atlantic City Daily as, "a backyard rock 'n' roll party for you and 5,000 of your friends." Sandler incorporated video into his live performances and created a stage set that looked like his parents' back porch, complete with lawn chairs and an amplifier propped up in a garbage can. He told Johnson, "It (the live show) has a party feel, and I'm going to try to make people laugh, dance, and have fun."
Sandler's first album underscored his comedy-writing talent with hilariously original songs like "Toll Booth Willie," but his second album showcased the songs more than the lyrics, and demonstrated that he and his band can play genuine music. The reggae melody to Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier" was used for "Ode To My Car," a song in which Sandler's details the woes of owning an old junker, and the live, acoustic "The Chanukah Song" lists to music all of the noted people who celebrate Chanukah. Director Stephen Spielberg called Sandler after the release of "The Chanukah Song" to request a copy of the lyrics, and rabbis called Sandlerto say it was a positive song; the single was one of 1996's most requested songs at major radio stations during the winter holiday season. Sandler also covers Springsteen's "Out On The Streets" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," and he performed Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown" on The Tonight Showin June of 1996. they're all gonna laugh at you! spent over 100 weeks on the Billboard Heatseeker's Chart, garnered a Grammy nomination, and went platinum. What the Hell Happened to Me? achieved gold status, and prompted Sandler to take a 21-city U.S. tour.
Balances Film and Music Career
Sandler's first comedy/song album, they're all gonna laugh at you!, was released in 1993 just as his film career was taking off. By then Sandler had appeared in Coneheads, Mixed Nuts, and Airheads In 1995 Sandler left Saturday Night Live and cowrote, along with friend Tim Herlihy, and starred in Billy Madison. He then cowrote and starred in Happy Gilmore in 1996, garnering MTV's Best Fight Award for his character's sparring scene with 72-year old actor and former television game show host Bob Barker. After releasing What the Hell Happened to Me? in 1996, Sandler costarred in 1997 with James Caan and Damon Wayans in the action comedy Bulletproof and the went to work on The Wedding Band, a movie about a wedding DJ who wants to be married.
When asked if he planned to release a third album, Sandler told Scene's Steven Battan, "I have some other Ideas for songs, some duet-kind of things that I want to do, but we'll see." Sandler told Gary Graff of Detroit Jewish News, "I never had the discipline for anything but comedy and acting...But I do have the discipline to stay up all night and make sure I write something that, to me, feels good. That I'll do."
they're all gonna laugh at you!, Warner Brothers, 1993.
What the Hell Happened to Me?, Warner Brothers, 1996.
Atlantic City Press, June 8, 1996.
Boston Herald, June 14, 1996.
Bucks County Courier Times (Levittown, PA), June 12, 1996.
Columbus Dispatch, June 24, 1996.
Dallas Morning News, July 5, 1996; July 8, 1996.
Detroit Jewish News, June 21, 1996.
Everybody's News (Cincinnati, OH), June 21, 1996.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 5, 1996.
Grand Rapids Press, June 27, 1996.
Hartford Courant, April 25, 1996; June 6, 1996; June 10, 1996.
Oakland Press (Pontiac, MI), June 28, 1996.
Philadelphia Weekly, June 12, 1996.
Pitch Weekly (Kansas City, MO), June 20, 1996.
Pittsburgh Press, June 23, 1996.
Scene (Cleveland, OH), June 1996.
Sunday Republican (Waterbury, CT), June 9, 1996.
Valley Advocate (Hatfield, MA), May 16, 1996.
Willoughby News-Herald (Ohio), May 24, 1996.
B. Kim Taylor
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