Today is the birthday of that Holy Saint of the neo-vaudeville movement, Herbert Khoury, ak.a. Tiny Tim (1932-1996). Oh, I wish, I wish, I wish he could be alive today to see what God Hath Wrought. 10,000 ukuleles ragin’ across the nation. He would have a posse around him, a cult. He in fact died at the same time I was starting my vaudeville theatre. I shall use the thought that his angel has been somewhere around all that time to keep me going.
Still, his was a crucial time too. He came out of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the late 50s, early 60s, when people were exploring all sorts of exotic old sounds, not just folk, but the blues, and even tin pan alley. (Dylan I think had some reminiscences of Tiny Tim in his autobiography). By the late sixties, when the country was in all-out freak mode, he made some extremely high profile appearances on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, The Smothers Brothers and the Tonight Show. Most folks just kind of considered him a joke, and as time wore on, a dated joke. But he actually kept working straight up until he died. But I wish he’d lived long enough to experience the respect that he deserved and undoubtedly would have been his if he’d been around in 2013.
Anyway, yes, his most famous tune is “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”, but this is the one that makes me so happy I want to burst apart at the seams:
To find out about the history of vaudeville including important hippie neo-vaudevillians like Tiny Tim, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous