(In which we celebrate the birth of Tiny Tim.)

Posted by Job O Brother, April 13, 2011 09:05am | Post a Comment

This week would have seen the birthday of beloved (and truly alternative) musician Tiny Tim, who passed away in 1996 from an acute case of death.

He matters to me because I cannot think of him without feeling a lovely little warmth in my normally cold, cold heart.

Recently, the (coincidentally-named) Amoebite posted a swell interview regarding Tiny Tim, but I wanted to tackle this subject, too – particularly because I am less burdened with fact and honesty and can therefore flesh out what may be as-yet-unknown facets of the artist’s life and career.

Tiny Tim, before puberty ruined everything

Tiny Tim was born Herbert Khaury on April 12, 1932, in a town just south of Duchess County called New York City (not to be confused with the song "New York City" by Hanoi Rocks). Many historical records list his parents as being people, though this is speculation, and any actual witnesses have long since not been asked.

Young Herbert was given the nickname “Tiny Tim” by locals in his neighborhood because of his habit of walking around on crutches, munching Christmas puddings and asking God to "bless them, every one." (Other nicknames were bestowed as well, such as “that cripple kid who smells like stew” or “faggot,” but none of these stuck.)

Legend has it that Tiny Tim’s love of music started when his father brought home a copy of Henry Burr singing “Beautiful Ohio” on a 78 RPM. While this is true, what many people don’t know is that Tiny Tim developed a profound (perhaps obsessive) interest in everything his father brought home that day, including rocky road ice cream (the life-long collecting, comparing and eating of which led to Tiny Tim’s eventual weight gain), a tube of Ben-Gay (which Tiny Tim used sparingly at first but which ultimately led to a large, though uneventful, addiction), and a small bag of fresh tulips and severed toes. (“They were having a sale,” his father remarked.) Reasons as to what it was about this particular shopping trip’s purchases that so inspired Tiny Tim remains a mystery, though some conspiracy-theorists claim it was a way for the child to deal psychologically with his intentionally causing the fire and crash of the Hindenburg airship. (It’s worth noting that while there is no reasonable way to connect the then-five-year-old Tiny Tim with the famous disaster, it’s at least a better basis for a movie than a remake of Arthur.)

Tiny Tim, when not (not) acting as a secret agent plotting against the Nazi Party continued to amass and memorize music, much of it folk and country recordings, occasionally peppering his collection with some Swing Out Sister remixes or ‘Til Tuesday singles, though these proved particularly difficult to get in the first half of the 1900’s. (It’s worth noting that, years later, ‘Til Tuesday front-woman Aimee Mann would go on to be born and do things that happened sometimes.)

Below you’ll find some of the music and artists that Tiny Tim loved. In my next post, I’ll continue telling his life’s story, so be sure to check back – unless you want to be a sizable poopy face with doo-doo in your brains, in which case you could enjoy this instead.

Also, don’t forget that Record Store Day is this week! Saturday, April 16, to be exact. If you’re in Los Angeles, won’t you swing by Amoeba Music Hollywood and come say hi? I’ll be back in the jazz room thinking about all the wonderful things one can do with salt-water taffy other than eating it.

Relevant Tags

Disasters (1), Nazis (11), World War Ii (6), New York City (100), Folk (40), Country (21), Avant Garde (24), Tiny Tim (4), Death (25), Pop Vocals (19), Hanoi Rocks (7), Henry Burr (1), 78 Rpm (3), Hindenburg (1), Swing Out Sister (1), ‘til Tuesday (1), Aimee Mann (3), Record Store Day (170), Rudy Vallee (1), Al Jolson (3), Ada Jones (1)