Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30: Tiny Tim ("Tiptoe Through the Tulips") died on this date in 1996...

... he was 64 when he died from a heart attack,  although he admitted he lied about his age on a number of occasions.  According to, and photos taken of his passport and birth certificate, and his death certificate, Tiny was born on April 12, 1932.

Tiny Tim; was he a con artist, or just a really, really strange dude? (There's a hint at the end of this post.)

Born Herbert Buckingham Khaury in New York City, Tiny Tim was most famous for his rendition of 'Tiptoe Through The Tulips' sung in his distinctive high falsetto/vibrato voice accompanied by a ukulele.

When he was five years old his father brought home a wind up gramophone and a 78 rpm record that featured a 1905 recording of Henry Burr singing "Beautiful Ohio". Herbert immersed himself in the music of the past, listening for hours in his room to Rudy Vallee, Al Jolson, Henry Burr, Irving Kaufman, Billy Murray, Ada Jones, Byron G. Harlan, and Bing Crosby.

Khaury began singing and playing the ukulele in his natural voice, but it was not until 1952 that anyone paid attention to him. In a 1968 interview on the Tonight Show, Khaury described the discovery of his high voice: "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."

He then entered a local talent show and sang "You Are My Sunshine" in his newly discovered voice. Khaury then tried different stage names like Darry Dover, Vernon Castle, Larry Love, and Judas K. Foxglove. He finally settled on Tiny Tim in 1962 when his manager at the time, George King, booked him at a club that favored midget acts.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Tiny Tim developed a cult following. In the 1960s he was seen regularly near the Harvard University campus as a street performer, singing old Tin Pan Alley tunes. His choice of repertoire and his encyclopedic knowledge of vintage popular music impressed many of the spectators.

Tiny Tim's biggest break came when he was booked on the immensely popular Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Dan Rowan announced that Laugh-In believed in showcasing new talent, and introduced Tiny Tim. The singer entered, blowing kisses, and sang "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" to an amused Dick Martin.

This stunt was followed by several more appearances on Laugh-In and a recording contract with Reprise Records. He made a name for himself as a novelty performer, appearing  on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (where he got married to 17-year old "Miss Vicky,") Ed Sullivan, and Jackie Gleason. At the height of his career, he was commanding a weekly salary of $50,000 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(His marriage didn't last long. They had a daughter, Tulip, and after she filed for divorce  Vicki appeared nude in Oui Magazine, as Victoria Lombardi.)

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. It sat on the shelf until its limited Internet release some 32 years later. The limited-numbered CD sold out and was reissued on Rhino's regular label.

While Tiny Tim was generally thought of as a novelty act, his records display a wide knowledge of American songs. In August 1970 he performed at the "Isle of Wight Festival 1970" in front of a crowd of 600,000 people.

His performance, which included English folk songs and rock and roll classics, was a huge hit with the multinational throng of hippies. At the climax of his set, he sang "They'll Always Be an England" through a megaphone which brought the huge crowd to its feet. This can be seen in the 1995 movie of the event, "Message to Love."

(Continued below video and CDs...)

HIGHLY Recommended (Links to Amazon):

I've Never Seen a Straight Banana: Rare Moments, Vol. 1God Bless Tiny Tim-the Complete Reprise RecordingsGirlMessage of Love: The Isle of Wight Festival: The Movie

Tiny Tim suffered a heart attack on stage at The Woman's Club of Minneapolis and was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center where he died after doctors tried to resuscitate him for an hour and fifteen minutes.

One admirer recalled that Tiny Tim's outrageous public persona was a false front belying a quiet, studious personality: "Herb Khaury was the greatest put-on artist in the world. Here he was with the long hair and the cheap suit and the high voice, but when you spoke to him he talked like a college professor. He knew everything about the old songs."


Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 24: Freddie Mercury of Queen died on this date in 1991...

... he was 45 when he died from bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.

Born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, Freddie was best known as the lead singer, pianist and co-founder of the rock band Queen.

Nicknamed Freddie by his friends in boarding school, he took piano  lessons at an early age, and played in rock & roll bands with friends. Due to political upheaval in Zanzibar, Freddie and his family fled Zanzibar for England in 1964.

In England, Freddie enrolled in the Ealing College of Art and fell under the spell of guitar wizard Jimi Hendrix. It was while attending Ealing that Freddie befriended a fellow aspiring musician, bassist Tim Staffel, who was a member of a local band called Smile.


Freddie soon began attending Smile's rehearsals and struck up a friendship with the group's other members, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Freddie  played in bands himself including Ibex, Wreckage, and Sour Milk Sea, but instead of just playing piano as he did back in Zanzibar, he began singing.

Following graduation, he joined a series of bands and sold second-hand clothes in the Kensington Market in London. He also held a job at Heathrow Airport. In April 1970, he joined with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.  Despite reservations from the other members, Freddie chose the name "Queen" for the new band.

After going through a succession of bassists, finally found a permanent member, John Deacon, just prior to the recording of their first album. But just before the release of Queen's self-titled debut in 1973, Freddie issued the solo single "I Can Hear Music"/"Going Back" (with his Queen bandmates backing him) under the pseudonym Larry Lurex.

(Continued below CDs...)

HIGHLY Recommended (Links to Amazon):

Queen: Greatest Hits I & IIA Night at the OperaClassic QueenQueen: Rock Montreal & Live Aid [Blu-ray]Lover Of Life, Singer Of Songs: The Very Best Of Freddie Mercury Solo (2CD)Freddie Mercury

(... continued)

As a performer, Freddie was known for his four-octave vocal range and onstage theatricality and flamboyant performances. As a songwriter, he composed many international hits, including "Bohemian Rhapsody," which many rate the greatest song of all time, "Killer Queen," "Somebody to Love," "Don't Stop Me Now," "We Are the Champions," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," and "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy."

In addition to his work with Queen, Freddie also led a solo career and was occasionally a producer and guest musician, piano or vocals for other artists.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nov. 17: "Oh, Lonesome Me," "Sea od Heartbeak" Country star Don Gibson died on this date in 2003.

He was 75 years old when he died from natural causes. 

Singer/songwriter Don Gibson was one of the most popular and influential forces in '50s and '60s country, scoring numerous hit singles as a performer and a songwriter. Gibson's music touched on both traditional country and highly-produced country-pop, which is part of the reason he had such a broad audience.

(Links for viewing You Tube videos:)

Born Donald Eugene Gibson in Shelby, North Carolina, he was one of the most popular and influential forces in '50s and '60s country, scoring numerous hit singles as a performer and a songwriter. Gibson's music touched on both traditional country and highly-produced country-pop, which is part of the reason he had such a broad audience.
Don was very shy and stuttered and  would listen to music on the radio and visualize himself as a performer. He took his first step toward this goal at 14 when he bought a guitar and learned some rudimentary chords. He was soon sitting with the instrument and watching and listening to other, older boys and men playing and try to pick up on what they were singing and playing.
In 1955, he began to compose songs in earnest, and one of his originals, "Sweet Dreams" became a Top Ten hit and was covered by Faron Young, who took it to number three at the same time.

Following the success of "Sweet Dreams," Gibson was signed to RCA Victor in 1957 by Chet Atkins. Released early in 1958, Gibson's first RCA single, "Oh Lonesome Me," was a blockbuster, spending eight weeks at the top of the country charts and crossing over into the pop Top Ten. That same year, he realized a long-held dream when he made his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry.

For nearly a decade after his first hit single, "Sweet Dreams," in 1956, he was a reliable hitmaker, and many of his songs have become country classics -- they have been covered by a wide range of artists, including Patsy Cline, Ray Charles, Kitty Wells, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, and Ronnie Milsap.
A Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Gibson also penned and recorded many other country standards such as "Blue Blue Day," "Sea of Heartbreak" and "I Can't Stop Loving You."  He enjoyed a string of country hits from 1957 into the early 1970's. He was nicknamed "The Sad Poet," because he frequently wrote songs that told of loneliness and lost love.

(Continued below CDs...)

HIGHLY Recommended (Links to Amazon):

 Country LegendsA Legend in My TimeDavid Allan Coe Presents Don Gibson

(... continued)
He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973, and in 2001, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 8: Jamaican American rapper and actor Heavy D - AKA Dwight Myers - died on this date in 2011 ...

He was 44 when he died in Los Angeles, California. He collapsed outside his Beverly Hills home and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. It has been reported that his death was due to respiratory distress and that no foul play was involved.

Heavy D's last public appearance and performance was in the movie Tower Heist, which premiered only 4 days before his death.

Dwight Myers better known as Heavy D, was a Jamaican American rapper, singer and former leader of hip hop group Heavy D & the Boyz. The group attracted maintained a sizable audience in the U.S. through most of the 1990s. He recently ventured into reggae music and is often described as a reggae fusion artist.

Heavy D showcased a likable persona and strong MC skills backed up by the Boyz. He varied his lyrical concerns to include positive message tracks and fun-loving party jams, and exhibited a genuine warmth and respect for women without getting overly sentimental.

He mixed elements of R&B, reggae, dance, and pop into his music, tied together with quick-tongued raps. He was an agile dancer, a naturalistic actor, and an astute businessman who eventually became a label executive. Even after his career as a hitmaker ended, his popularity continued through the '90s.

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):

Heavy Hits


Myers was born in Jamaica. His family moved to Mount Vernon, New York, when he was a young child.

Heavy D & the Boyz were the first group signed to Uptown Records; their debut, Living Large, was released in 1987. The album was a commercial success, though Big Tyme was a breakthrough that included four hits.

Boyz member Trouble T. Roy died at age 22 in a fall on July 15, 1990, in Indianapolis. Dixon's passing led to a tribute on the follow-up platinum album, Peaceful Journey. Pete Rock & CL Smooth created a tribute to Trouble T. Roy called "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" which is regarded as a hip-hop classic.

Heavy D & the Boyz gained even more fame by singing the theme song for the television program In Living Color and also MADtv, and Heavy D performed the rap on Michael Jackson's hit single "Jam." However, the group's next album, Blue Funk, was not marketed as well as their previous albums, but is still widely acclaimed.

Heavy D then began focusing on his acting, appearing in the television shows A Different World, Roc and Living Single before returning the music charts with Nuttin' But Love.

After appearing in the off-Broadway play Riff Raff at Circle Repertory Company, Heavy D returned to recording with the hit Waterbed Hev. In 2005, the Will Smith movie Hitch played the song "Now That We Found Love" during the ending scene where a wedding party does a line dance, and gave Heavy D & the Boyz a lot of exposure.

He then appeared in the film Life, before being in the cast of the television show Boston Public. In 2002, Heavy D had a supporting role as an FBI agent alongside Omar Epps in the movie adaptation of Dave Barry's novel Big Trouble.
In 2003 he starred in the supporting cast for the sit-com The Tracy Morgan Show as Bernard.

In 1997, Heavy D collaborated with B.B. King on his duets album Deuces Wild rapping in the song "Keep It Coming." He also had a small role in the 1999 Oscar-nominated movie The Cider House Rules.

In 2005, Heavy D appeared as Sid in the hit Fox drama Bones, as the owner and bartender at Wong Fu's. In 2006, he appeared in the motion picture, Step Up, as Omar. Heavy D also appeared as Bo-Kane in the 1995 film New Jersey Drive.

Heavy D has now released a new reggae album via iTunes, called Vibes.

Heavy D was referred to in the song "Juicy" by the Notorious B.I.G. and in " Da Girls They Love Me" by underground rapper R.A. the Rugged Man. He also appears as the bouncer in the music video for "One More Chance" by Notorious B.I.G.