Weird Al Yankovic guitarist Jim “Kimo” West on his love for Hawaiian music, the serious technique behind unserious parodies, and seeing himself onscreen

Jim "Kimo" West
(Image credit: Unique Nicole/Getty Images)

In the professional guitarist realm, versatility is overrated. The greats are the ones who become extraordinary at one thing: it’s hard to picture Stevie Ray Vaughan releasing an acclaimed noise-rock release, or Scott Ian dipping his toes into blues rock. 

Then there’s Jim “Kimo” West – a guitarist who, for 40 years, has taken on genre after genre, style after style, constantly evolving with the times. He's been heard by millions, but yet has done all this in relative obscurity. After all, it’s hard to get the spotlight when your frontman is not only one of the most beloved pop culture icons of all time but also arguably the most famous – if not the most technically accomplished – accordion player in an extremely specific genre of music.

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Adam Kovac

Adam is a freelance writer whose work has appeared, aside from Guitar World, in Rolling Stone, Playboy, Esquire and VICE. He spent many years in bands you've never heard of before deciding to leave behind the financial uncertainty of rock'n roll for the lucrative life of journalism. He still finds time to recreate his dreams of stardom in his pop-punk tribute band, Finding Emo.