Tiny Tim passed away 27 years ago today

The artist was mostly famous for his rendition of “Tip Toe Through The Tulips”

Tiny Tim passed away 27 years ago today

Tiny Tim was born Herbert Buckingham Khaury on April 12,1932 in Manhattan, New York City. Tiny Tim 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 1900’s through the 1930’s. 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 would research sheet music, often making photographic copies to take home to learn, a hobby he continued for his entire life. Tiny Tim rose to prominence during the 1960’s with his unique vocal style and also his physical features which made him a sort of novelty act. 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 Vallee 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. In 1963 he landed his first paying gig at Page 3, a gay and lesbian club in Greenwich Village, playing 6 hours a night, 6 nights a week, for $96 per month. In 1968, his first album God Bless Tiny Tim was released. It contained an orchestrated version of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”, which became a hit after being released as a single. During that period Tiny Tim opened for several famous Rock and Pop acts. This was the height of his popularity. During the 1970’s and 1980’s though remaining active his popularity started to vanish. 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. . 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 the dietary needs for his diabetic and heart conditions. Nevertheless, 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 performance that he was not feeling well, but did not want to disappoint the fans. By the end 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. Tiny Tim was pronounced dead nearly an hour later, he was 64. Tiny Tim music keeps being introduced to a new generation through the use of songs in movies and commercials,  such as his rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” on the 2011 horror film “Insidious”.

Look back at Tiny Tim performing his signature song “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” live on TV in 1968

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