A Collection of Tiny Tim Eulogies and Obituaries

For historical interest, here’s a collection of eulogies and obituaries for Tiny Tim. They were published from various sources after his death in 1996:

A Collection of Tiny Tim Eulogies and Obituaries

Tiny Tim Eulogies


Tiny Tim

(1932-1996)

It is with great sadness that I report that Tiny Tim – The Eternal Troubadour – died last evening in a hospital, victim of an apparent heart attack. Along with him went an endless knowledge of music and recording history, as well as the superhuman ability to win over any crowd large or small and leave everyone smiling until it hurt.

I’m fortunate to have known this great man, and even more fortunate to have worked with him on a few occasions. I’ll never forget the first time he stepped in to my little home studio: I was a complete basket case, more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life. Tiny shook my hand, thanked me profusely for allowing him to record in my wonderful studio, then he proceeded to play through three hours of songs from his spiral notebooks. My fear and apprehension melted in seconds, and I spent that entire day with a dear friend, not with a superstar.

I last spoke with him on the telephone just a couple of weeks ago. He was in great spirits, thankful for all the notes and cards and cassettes and sheet music from his fans from around the world. “Each and every one of ’em is like it has a million dollars in it, they’re all so wonderful!” Tiny said. And, of course, he was looking towards the future – thinking out loud about new recording projects and upcoming releases. We discussed our own Tiny Tim release – I Love Me – as well, and it was vintage Tiny. Though I bemoaned the disc’s meager sales figures, Tiny kept going on about how it was a great CD release and that’s what mattered. He was right, of course.

I miss him already…

December 1, 1996


Remembering Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim kept the footnotes of history alive, singing the songs of the forgotten with vigor and passion. And now Tiny Tim, after a momentary blip of obituaries, tributes and remembrances, is destined to join the crooners and songsmiths he loved, as he becomes a footnote himself.

If being labeled a footnote denotes a certain marginalization, that’s not say it also implies a slightness in the quality or reception of the work in its time; it’s just that only so much stuff can be carried forward and still leave any room for the present. One of the remarkable characteristics of Tiny Tim was his embracing of the music of all eras. He studied the music of the pre-phono era, poring through stacks of sheet music, journals and biographies in libraries to drink in a time that largely pre-dated his own birth, but which shaped the times he grew up in. He also understood that the evolution of music was driven in large part by the enthusiasms of youth. He listened to and welcomed the musics of each new crop as they stepped up to bat, a rare quality in people even a fraction of his age.

Part of this embracing the new was Tiny Tim, the Gentleman Entertainer – a set of manners from another era. And it was just these manners that proved to be his undoing in the marketplace. Though he wanted to be recognized as a song stylist drawing on a rich catalog of antique obscurities, he’s largely perceived as a novelty act. And that’s a corner he willingly painted himself into. Wanting desperately to be not only accepted but popular, and after a litany of failed attempts throughout the fifties and sixties, he finally landed on his well-known Tiny Tim persona and struck momentary paydirt. Tiny gladly signed on with nearly all comers – hucksters, agents and managers of every stripe, often simultaneously. That his entry into public consciousness was marketed via novelty-overdrive only ensured that the pendulum swung swiftly in reverse. The fact remains that his Warner Brothers debut, *God Bless Tiny Tim,* is a stunning assimilation of decades old song styles and contemporary culture, melded into a seamlessly believable world.

The fame flew by, but Tiny Tim never stopped working. Since his late sixties highs, he’d been employed to sing at circuses, on cruises, and on endless remakes of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” by any band of the current flavor with the wherewithal to buy Mr. Tim a plane ticket and a room at a Motel Six. Herbert Khaury was whole and complete when he was singing on a stage – any stage – as Tiny Tim. That he died onstage makes him a lucky man. Dying while doing what you love ranks close behind dying in your sleep as preferred ways to go.

Sadly, gone with him is the wealth of facts, songs and stories that he turned from musty library artifacts into heritage alive and breathing. So vivid were his tellings of the tales of the singers and songwriters who excited and inspired him as a boy, that it was possible to lose sight of the fact that he wasn’t actually there for the events he was recounting. I complimented him once on his prodigious memory, and his response was that it’s our responsibility to find out all we can about the things we love. That’s a statement both wise and passionate. Unfortunately, as a man who was also known for the peculiarities of his health and beauty regimen, and who’d gladly talk at length about it, he made it easier to be attached to those proclivities than to the music. Like water wending its way across a landscape, public perception will also take the course of least resistance. Which leaves it up to those who care to tell those who never knew or forgot, that Tiny Tim understood how a song could embellish the time it passed through. Tiny Tim got a hold of the magic and changed the shape of the times he lived in.


Obituaries


Apparent heart attack claims Tiny Tim, 64

MINNEAPOLIS (AP)– Tiny Tim, the ukulele-plunking crooner who bemused and amused millions by trilling the whimsical love ditty “Tip-toe Thru’ the Tulips,” died after falling ill as he performed his signature song.

Tiny Tim, who had a history of heart trouble, was stricken Saturday night during a benefit for the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. His widow, Susan Khaury, said he cut short “Tulips” and told her he was not well. She was trying to help him back to their table when he collapsed.

“I don’t think he had time to feel pain,” Mrs. Khaury said Sunday. “He died singing ‘Tiptoe Thru’ the Tulips,’ and the last thing he heard was the applause, and the last thing he saw was me.”

Tiny Tim died at a Minneapolis hospital late Saturday. A hospital spokeswoman said the cause apparently was cardiac arrest, but a final determination would be made later.

He said a few weeks ago that he was born April 12, 1932, making him 64, although over the years he had sometimes fibbed or hedged about his age.

Born Herbert Khaury, Tiny Tim built his career on his single hit song in 1968, his stratospheric falsetto, an asexual and childlike stage persona and a flair for self-promotion.

The 6-foot-l entertainer with long, frizzy hair was given his stage name in 1960 by an agent who had been working with midget acts. He made his first national television appearance on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in.”

In an era of acid-tinged performers such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin, the older Tiny Tim seemed to offer a benign, comic foil. “Tiptoe Thru’ the Tulips” dates from the late ’20s, but Tiny Tim appropriated the song on behalf of the flower generation.”

“He would sing in this very high voice and play his ukulele and act like a child almost. If we had renegade rockers on one side, he was the other side,” said T. Dennis Brown, a historian of American popular music at the University of Massachusetts.

His 1969 marriage to Vicki Budinger on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” attracted an audience of 40 million viewers. They had a daughter, Tulip Victoria, before they divorced.

Though known for his falsetto, he also sometimes sang in a baritone. His albums include “God Bless Tiny Tim,” “Prisoner of Love,” “Rock,” and “Girl.”

In recent years, he found an audience with the retro-music crowd and an enthusiastic welcome from broadcast hosts, including Howard Stern and Conan O’Brien.

“He was a beautiful person, had an incredible sense of humor about everything, and a real gentle soul,” said Stuart Hersh of New York, who produced a record by Tiny Tim titled, “I Saw Mr. Presley Tiptoeing Thru’ the Tulips.

Band leader Jerry Mayeron of Minneapolis backed up Tiny Tim at a recent performance for the Women’s Catholic League Ball in Golden Valley.

“He just did a couple, three songs, – what he’s sort of famous for. He appeared a little shaky but he made it through the show,” Mayeron said.

“There’s always a great reaction. He kills ’em no matter what age crowd it is. Everybody knows who he is. That name’s magic. … (He had an) amazing career based on a minute-and-a-half song.”

Tiny Tim moved to Minneapolis in 1995 after marrying his third wife. He had suffered from congestive heart failure, diabetes and other problems. He fell off a stage on Sept. 28 after suffering a heart attack during a ukulele festival in Massachusetts and was hospitalized for 11 days.

“If I live 10 years, it’s a miracle. Five years, it’s even more of a miracle,” Tiny Tim said after his release.

His doctors warned him he might live only another year or two. “I am ready for anything that happens,” he said. “Death is never polite, even when we expect it. The only thing I pray for is the strength to go out without complaining.”

Mrs. Khaury said she had urged him to rest, but Saturday’s performance was his third since the heart attack.

“I don’t think there’s anything more I could have done to stop him,” she said, adding that he was “pretty lackadaisical” about taking his medicine.

Tiny Tim once told an interviewer, “Don’t bury me with anyone old.” A funeral was scheduled for Wednesday in Minneapolis.


GOD BLESS TINY TIM

I was deeply saddened to hear of the recent death of Tiny Tim, a man that no one can deny was a true original. When others felt compelled to create music based on whatever was popular at the moment, and to dress with the same lack of originality, Tiny flew in the face of peer group pressure. But perhaps that’s because he HAD no peer group.

At once striking and shocking, with his hulking 6′ 1″ frame, long, curly tresses of hair, outlandishly obnoxious and colorful suits, and his trademark ukulele forever in his hands, or at his side in a paper shopping bag, the image of Tiny Tim is one we won’t forget.

Musically, he was fascinated with turn-of-the-century Music Hall songs, and was a virtual walking encylcopedia of ancient tunes. His one and only 1968 hit, “Tiptoe Through The Tulips”, was in fact originally written in 1929. But it was mostly his voice that made people stand back and stop dead in their tracks. From this huge, bizarrely-dressed man came this high-pitched falsetto voice, drenched in enough vibrato to keep an opera house happy. He will be remembered for his sunshine personality, his ability to laugh at himself along with us, (although he was completely sincere), and his love for music of all kinds.

Our deepest condolences go out to his widow, Susan Gardner Khaury, and to his daughter from his first marriage, Tulip Victoria. He passed away on Saturday, Nov. 30th, 1996, while performing at a benefit for the Women’s Club of Minneapolis, in the city where he had lived for that last year. His death was attributed to a probable heart attack, although he had several other serious health problems, including diabetes. His funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 4th.

God Bless You, Tiny Tim.


Remembering Tiny Tim

November 30, 1996 – The eccentric pop singer known as Tiny Tim is dead at age 66. He died at a hospital in Minneapolis after suffering a heart attack. Herbert Khaury became a pop phenomenon in 1968 with his odd falsetto delivery and his hit “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” He partied with the Beatles and got married on “The Tonight Show” on December 18, 1969. Much more than just a novelty flash-in-the-pan (though admittedly his fame waned quickly), Tiny Tim was a great student and interpreter of popular song– a living encyclopedia of the music of the first half of this nearly-depleted century. His uniqueness should be remembered. God bless Tiny Tim.


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