Name at birth: Barret Hansen
Dr. Demento is the on-air name of Barry Hansen, the longtime host of a syndicated radio show in the U.S. that featureed novelty and comedy records. Hansen studied music at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and at the University of California at Los Angeles. He first used the Dr. Demento moniker in 1970, in his early days as a Los Angeles disc jockey. By 1974 he was nationally syndicated, playing rare novelty songs from the past and present, from Spike Jones and Tom Lehrer to Frank Zappa and Weird Al Yankovic. (Dr. Demento is famous for giving Weird Al his first big break.) The Dr. Demento radio show lasted for 40 years until finally going off the air in June of 2010, though the "good doctor" continued with online podcasts. Hansen is also an avid record collector and expert on the history of recording who has produced several compilations, mostly for Rhino Records. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2009.
Before becoming a radio personality, Hansen was a roadie for the rock band Canned Heat.