Herbert Butros Khaury
April 12, 1932
|Died||November 30, 1996 64) (aged|
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
|Resting place|| Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.|
|Instruments||Ukulele, mandolin, guitar, violin, vocals|
Herbert Butros Khaury – November 30, 1996), also known as Herbert Buckingham Khaury and known professionally as Tiny Tim, was an American singer, ukulele player, and musical archivist. He is best remembered for his cover hits "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" and "Livin' in the Sunlight, Lovin' in the Moonlight", which he sang in a falsetto voice.(April 12, 1932
Khaury was born in Manhattan, New York City, on April 12, 1932. His mother Tillie (née Staff), a Polish-Jewish garment worker, was the daughter of a rabbi. She had immigrated from Brest-Litovsk, present-day Belarus, as a teen in 1914. Khaury's father, Butros Khaury, was a textile worker from Beirut, present-day Lebanon, whose father was a Maronite Catholic priest.
Khaury displayed musical talent at a very young age. At the age of five, his father gave him a vintage wind-up Gramophone and a 78-RPM record of "Beautiful Ohio" by Henry Burr. He would sit for hours listening to the record. At the age of six, he began teaching himself guitar. By his pre-teen years, he developed a passion for records, specifically those from the 1900s through the 1930s. He began spending most of his free time at the New York Public Library, reading about the history of the phonograph industry and its first recording artists. He researched sheet music, often making photographic copies to take home to learn, a hobby he continued for his entire life.He attended George Washington High School in Washington Heights, Manhattan.
By the time Khaury was eleven years old, he began learning to play the violin and enjoyed performing at home for his parents' entertainment. He later picked up the mandolin and the ukulele –the latter of which became his signature instrument. During his recovery from having his appendix removed in 1945, he read the Bible and listened to music on the radio; after his recovery, he rarely left his room except to go to school, where he was described as a mediocre student. He dropped out of high school after continuously repeating his sophomore year, taking a series of menial jobs.
In a 1968 interview on The Tonight Show , he described the discovery of his ability to sing in an upper register: "I was listening to the radio and singing along; as I was singing I said 'Gee, it's strange. I can go up high as well.'" In a 1969 interview he said he was listening to Rudy Vallée sing in a falsetto, and "had something of a revelation –I never knew that I had another top register," describing it as a religious experience.
By the early 1950s, Khaury had landed a job as a messenger at the New York office of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, where he became ever more fascinated with the entertainment industry. He then entered a local talent show and sang "You Are My Sunshine" in his newly discovered falsetto. He started performing at dance club amateur nights under different names, such as Texarkana Tex, Judas K. Foxglove, Vernon Castle, and Emmett Swink. To stand out from the crowd of performers, he wore wild clothing and, after seeing an old poster of a long-haired Rudolph Valentino, grew his own hair out to shoulder length and wore pasty white facial makeup. His mother did not understand Herbert's change in appearance and was intending to take her son, now in his twenties, to see a psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, until his father stepped in.
In 1959, he dropped all his other stage names and performed as "Larry Love, the Singing Canary" at Hubert's Museum and Live Flea Circus in New York City's Times Square. While performing there, he signed with a manager who sent him on auditions throughout the Greenwich Village section of New York, where he performed unpaid amateur gigs,playing the ukulele and singing in his falsetto voice the song which became his signature, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips".
Film critic Roger Ebert wrote:
I first saw Tiny Tim very early in his career, in Greenwich Village in the winter of 1962–63. There was a convention of college newspaper editors, and a few of us –I remember Jeff Greenfield coming along –went to the Black Pussycat and found ourselves being entertained by a man the likes of whom we'd not seen before. He was already locally popular.
In 1963, he landed his first paying gig at Page 3, a gay and lesbian club in Greenwich Village, playing 6 hours a night and 6 nights a week for $96 per month. For the next two years, he performed as "Dary Dover", and after that, "Sir Timothy Timms". After being booked to follow a "midget" act, his manager, George King, billed the 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) Khaury using the ironic stage name "Tiny Tim", which would later become his signature name.
Tiny Tim appeared in Jack Smith's Normal Love (1963), as well as the independent feature film You Are What You Eat (1968) in which he sang the Ronettes song "Be My Baby" in his falsetto range; also featured was a rendition of Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe", with Tim singing the Cher parts in his falsetto voice, along with Eleanor Barooshian singing Sonny Bono's baritone part. These tracks were recorded with musicians who later joined The Band. The "I Got You Babe" performance led to a booking on the Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In , a popular American television comedy-variety show. Co-host Dan Rowan announced that Laugh-In believed in showcasing new talent, and so Tiny Tim was introduced. The singer entered carrying a shopping bag, pulled his Martin soprano ukulele from it, and sang a medley of "A Tisket A Tasket" and "On The Good Ship Lollipop" as an apparently genuinely dumbfounded co-host Dick Martin watched.For his third number on Laugh-In, Tiny Tim entered blowing kisses, preceded by an elaborate procession of the cast and, after a short interview, he sang "Tiptoe Through the Tulips".
In 1968, his first album God Bless Tiny Tim was released, which contained an orchestrated version of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips", which became a hit after being released as a single. For All My Little Friends (1969) was a collection of children's songs and was awarded a Grammy Award nomination.
On October 7, 1969, Tiny Tim had the opportunity to take to the ice with his favorite Toronto Maple Leafs pro sports team before a charity event at the hockey shrine Maple Leaf Gardens. Wearing the skates and jersey of future Hockey Hall of Fame member Pat Quinn and helped by team members Mike Walton and Jim McKenny, he made an attempt to skate for the very first time. He was quoted as saying, "What a thrill! Just being on the ice was great!" Reacting well to his evidenced inability to skate on his own, he said, "I was always athletic spiritually, not physically".
Tiny Tim was married three times, and had one daughter from his first marriage to the then 17-year-old Victoria Budinger –also known as "Miss Vicki" –at the age of 37. Tiny Tim married Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on December 17, 1969, with 40 million people watching. In 1971, Budinger gave birth to their daughter Tulip Victoria. Tiny Tim and Victoria Budinger divorced three years later. Budinger subsequently had several marriages.
Tiny Tim married Jan Alweiss ("Miss Jan") in 1984, and Susan Marie Gardner ("Miss Sue") in 1995.Gardner was a 39-year-old Harvard graduate and a fan of Tim's since she was 12.
When Tiny Tim first became well known to the American public, many people erroneously believed that he was British. Many pundits and journalists debated whether the character being presented was just an orchestrated act or the real thing. "It quickly became clear that he was genuine", however, and that he could probably be best described as "a lonely outcast intoxicated by fame" and "a romantic" always in pursuit of his ideal dream.
After his career highlights in the late 1960s, Tiny Tim's television appearances dwindled, and his popularity began to wane. He continued to play concerts, making several lucrative appearances in Las Vegas. In August 1970, he performed “There'll Always Be an England” to an estimated 600,000 people at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. The UK press announced that he had stolen the show "without a single electric instrument".When his recording contract ended with Reprise, he founded his own record label and humorously named it Vic Tim Records, as a pun on the combination of his wife's name with that of his own. He performed with the American alternative rock band Camper Van Beethoven in 1986. He played the lead role in the 1987 horror film Blood Harvest , acting the role of Mervo. In the 1990s, he released several albums, including Rock (1993), I Love Me (1993), and Girl (1996).
Tiny Tim, a biography by Harry Stein, was published in 1976 by Playboy Press. Khaury also appeared in the WWE on July 19, 1993, in a skit with Jerry Lawler on "King's Court", where Tim proceeded to cry after Lawler smashed his ukelele. [ citation needed ]
Tiny Tim played the ukulele left-handed –though he retained the standard string placement –and played the guitar right-handed. The instruments he played included a vintage Martin, a Favilla, and a Johnston metal resonator. Tiny was a huge fan of Arthur Godfrey and taught himself to play using a method book that came with the Godfrey-endorsed Maccaferri Islander plastic ukulele.
On September 28, 1996, Tiny suffered a heart attack just as he began singing at a ukulele festival at the Montague Grange Hall in Montague, Massachusetts (this hall is often confused in accounts of the incident with the nearby Montague Bookmill, at which he had recorded a video interview earlier that same day). He was hospitalized at the nearby Franklin County Medical Center in Greenfield for approximately three weeks before being discharged with strong admonitions not to perform again because of his health, weight, and dietary needs for his diabetic and heart conditions. He ignored the advice.
On November 30, 1996, he was playing at a gala benefit hosted by the Women's Club of Minneapolis. He had let his third wife ("Miss Sue") know before the show that he was not feeling well, but did not want to disappoint the fans. Before the start of his performance, most of the audience had left. While performing his last number of the evening, he suffered another heart attack on stage in the middle of a rendition of his hit, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips". His wife asked him if he was feeling all right, and he said he was not; she was helping him back to their table when he collapsed, and never regained consciousness.EMTs performed on-site CPR and transported him to Hennepin County Medical Center, where after repeated revival attempts, he was pronounced dead at 11:20 pm. His remains are entombed in a mausoleum in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. A large mural of Tiny Tim with tulip themes by famous Australian artist Martin Sharp is in the Macquarie University Student Council in Sydney, Australia.
In 2000, the Rhino Handmade label released the posthumous Tiny Tim Live at the Royal Albert Hall . This recording had been made in 1968 at the height of Tiny Tim's fame, but Reprise Records never released it. The limited-number CD sold out and was reissued on Rhino's regular label. In 2009, the Collector's Choice label released I've Never Seen a Straight Banana: Rare Moments Vol. 1, produced and recorded by Richard Barone in 1976. The album was a collection of rare recordings of some of Tiny Tim's favorite songs from 1878 through the 1930s, along with some of his own compositions.
In 2009, it was reported that Justin Martell was preparing a biography of Tiny Tim,released in 2016 under the title Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim. Martell is called one of America's "foremost experts" on Tiny Tim; he contributed liner notes to I've Never Seen a Straight Banana and the 2011 Tiny Tim compilation LP Tiny Tim: Lost & Found 1963–1974 (Rare & Unreleased), released on Secret Seven Records.
In 2013, a biography of Tiny Tim was released in two editions. Tiny Tim: Tiptoe Through A Lifetime was released July 16, 2013, and is by Lowell Tarling (author) and Martin Sharp (illustrator). Ship To Shore PhonoCo followed up Lost & Found Vol 1 with a Vol 2 featuring Tiny Tim's 1974 live recording of "(Nobody Else Can Love Me Like) My Old Tomato Can" on a limited edition wax cylinder.
In 2016, Ship To Shore PhonoCo released Tiny Tim's America, a collection of demos recorded by Tiny Tim in 1974 and finished in 2015 with overdubs overseen by producer Richard Barone and Tiny Tim's cousin Eddie Rabin. The album was subtitled "Rare Moments Vol. 2" and was presented as a spiritual sequel to 2009's I've Never Seen A Straight Banana: Rare Moments Vol 1.
Tiny Tim was honored with a star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue,recognizing performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue. Receiving a star "might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis," according to journalist Steve Marsh.
God Bless Tiny Tim is the first album by Tiny Tim. Released in 1968 on the Reprise label, it included "Tiptoe Through The Tulips", a version of "I Got You Babe", and a collection of obscure songs. Many of the songs have humorous lyrics, are sung for humorous effect, or have an unexpected hook. It is widely praised, but was not released on CD until the late 1990s, and then only in Japan. It later was re-released on CD in 2013 with a number of bonus tracks that include alternate and instrumental versions of the album's songs as well as non-album singles.
Clifton Avon "Cliff" Edwards, nicknamed "Ukulele Ike", was an American musician, singer and actor, who enjoyed considerable popularity in the 1920s and early 1930s, specializing in jazzy renditions of pop standards and novelty tunes. He had a number one hit with "Singin' in the Rain" in 1929. He also did voices for animated cartoons later in his career, and he is best known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney's Pinocchio (1940) and Fun and Fancy Free (1947), and Dandy (Jim) Crow in Walt Disney's Dumbo (1941).
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Sinkin' in the Bathtub is the first Warner Bros. theatrical cartoon short as well as the first of the Looney Tunes series. The cartoon features Bosko, and the title is a pun on the 1929 song Singin' in the Bathtub. The short debuted in April 1930, possibly on April 19, at the Warner Bros. Theater in Hollywood.
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Gold Diggers of Broadway is a 1929 American Pre-Code musical comedy film directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring Winnie Lightner and Nick Lucas. Distributed by Warner Bros., the film is the second two-color Technicolor all-talking feature-length film.
Joseph Aloysius Burke was an American composer, pianist and actor. His successful songs, written with various lyricists, included "Down Honolulu Way" (1916), "Oh How I Miss You Tonight" (1924), "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" (1929), "Moon Over Miami" (1935), "Getting Some Fun Out of Life" (1937) and "Rambling Rose" (1948).
Dominic Nicholas Anthony Lucinese, known professionally as Nick Lucas, was an American jazz guitarist and singer. He was the first jazz guitarist to record as a soloist. His popularity during his lifetime came from his reputation as a singer. His signature song was "Tiptoe Through the Tulips".
"Tiptoe Through the Tulips", also known as "Tip Toe Through the Tulips with Me", is a popular song published in 1929. The song was written by Al Dubin (lyrics) and Joe Burke (music) and made popular by guitarist Nick Lucas. On February 5, 1968, singer Tiny Tim made the song a novelty hit by singing it on the debut episode of the popular American television show Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.
Tiny Tim Live! At the Royal Albert Hall is a live album by American singer Tiny Tim, recorded at The Royal Albert Hall in 1968, but not commercially released until 2000 by Rhino Records. Live! At the Royal Albert Hall is the only album by Tiny Tim to have an accompaniment of full-sized orchestra, from first overture to final applause.
Richard Perry is an American record producer. He began as a performer in his adolescence, but shifted gears after graduating from college and rose through the late 1960s and early 1970s to become a highly successful and popular record producer with over a dozen gold records to his credit by 1982. From 1978 to 1983, he ran his own record label, Planet Records, which scored a string of hits with the main act on its roster, pop/R&B group The Pointer Sisters. After Planet's sale to RCA Records, Perry continued his work in the music industry as an independent producer. With hit records stretching from the 1960s through the 2000s, his successful modern releases include albums by Rod Stewart and Carly Simon.
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Lyle Joseph Ritz was an American musician, known for his work on ukulele and bass. His early career in jazz as a ukulele player made him a key part of the Hawaii music scene in the 1950s. By the 1960s, he had begun working as a session musician, more often on double bass or electric bass guitar. His prominence in the Los Angeles session scene made him a part of the Wrecking Crew, an informal group of well-used Los Angeles-based musicians. Ritz contributed to many American pop hits from the mid 1960s to the early 1980s. Starting in the mid-1980s, a rediscovery of his earlier ukulele work led to him becoming a fixture in live festivals, and a revival of his interest in playing the ukulele. He was inducted to both the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2007.
The Thorn in Mrs. Rose's Side is the debut album by Biff Rose. It was released in 1968 on Bill Cosby's music label Tetragrammaton Records. "Fill Your Heart" was written together with American composer, singer-songwriter, and actor Paul Williams. The two met while working together on a television comedy show. Tiny Tim released "Fill Your Heart" on his album, God Bless Tiny Tim, six months before Biff Rose's own version. It was also released as the B-side of Tiny Tim's 1968 hit, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips".
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Harvey Leonard Sussmann is an American entertainer and songwriter.
Tiny Tim, whose quavery falsetto and ukulele made Tiptoe Through the Tulips With Me a novelty hit in 1968, died on Saturday night at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. He was 64 and had lived in Minneapolis for the past year. The cause of death apparently was cardiac arrest, a nursing supervisor, Ellen Lafans, told The Associated Press. He had been in poor health of late, and collapsed onstage after suffering a heart attack while performing at a ukulele festival in western Massachusetts in September.
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