An Exclusive: The Tiny Tim/fab Four Connection, The Tiny Tim Fan Club, His Future Museum, and Much, Much More, According to Mister Bucks Burnett (who Had a Fourteen Year Friendship With The Tiptoing Through The Tulips Troubadour) in Dallas, Texas.
Wind up your gramophones, folks, and put a delightful Tiny Tim 78 RPM record on or play this above ditty, first done by Maurice Chevalie,r for the movie The Pond in 1930. Okay, or pull out a copy of Girl, co-produced by Bucks Burnett and Brave Combo, that features The Fab Four Songs, Hey Jude and Girl. The out-of-time, Tin Pan Alley, Vaudevillian throwback is about to make a comeback; am I not reading’ the Boston teabags correctly? Let’s travel back in the obligatory Time Machine with Sherman and Mister Peabody, (dream mist appears) …in the meantime….
I watched the evening news sadly (“I read the news today, oh boy”) from my bed on November 30, 1996 when I heard that Tiny Tim had died. I remembered back fondly to May 19, 1988 to when I was a member of The Potatoes Comedy Orchestra; we were the privileged back-up band to Tiny Tim at Club Dada in Dallas. “Merry month of May, sunny skies of blue, clouds have rolled away and the sun peeps thru, May express happiness, Joy you may define in a thousand ways, but a case like mine needs a ‘special phrase’ to reveal how I feel. I’ve got the world on a string, sittin’ on a rainbow, Got the string a-round my finger, what a world, what a life, I’m in love!”
Bucks Burnett had arranged this Ed-A-Go-Go and had a long standing friendship with Mister Tim, as we preferred to call him. To prepare for the show I had to dig deep into his repertoire and I was amazed at what I found! Mister Bucks Burnett is starting a fan club for Tiny Tim up in Dallas and this seems like a good thing to do. When one looks at the considerable contribution to American Music that Tiny Tim has made, this cinches his decision. In my opinion, a pattern emerges of typecasting him as a mere novelty act, as a one hit wonder (as BB says); this is an unfair judgment, if one conjures his record (or better, records).
The recent acquisition of the mold of Tiny Tim’s teeth by Mister Bucks Burnett may have helped to light the fire for this new revival of Tiny Tim-isms, I dare to speculate. An article in the April 13 th edition of The Eagle-Tribune (a Massachusetts’ paper) tells of the selling of said famous Tim Molar Mold on Ebay for $1,500 to Randy Reeves of Rockwall, Texas. Randy is a good friend to Bucks Burnett (he maybe even is in cahoots with Double B), and he donated the relic to Bucksy as a friendly gesture. “He’s going to flip out,” Reeves is reported as saying, and now Mister Bucks is stir-fryin’ this fan club for Tiny Tim, so the squawking-plaster-jaw must ‘ave done its magic!
I have known Bucks Burnett going back many years ago and decided to try to interview him about this new Tiny Tim Fan Club, that he was mustering up out of thin air, or out the clear, blue sky.*(Note: after speaking with Mister Burnett on Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, I have changed my mind; I have subsequently come to the conclusion that said TT Fan Club was bubbling up into creation naturally all along anyway?) I do judge this to be a promising endeavor, a worthy pursuit. I sent him an email and my first question was how did you meet Mister Tim? And I wanted to know a little about his fourteen year friendship with this blazing star, even though he might be somewhat bewildering and bizarre to many people? Here is Bucks’ exact transmittal by email.
“I met Tiny in the Fall of 1982 at a small night club called Confetti. I snuck backstage, met The Great One, and we conducted an interview in his hotel room at 3 AM. I then hired him in ’84 to play Edstock and we worked together until his death in 1996. I produced his final two albums, Songs Of An Impotent Troubadour (1995) and Girl (1996). Also booked the following gigs at Club Dada in Dallas: Ed A Go Go (1988) and Tinypalooza (1994). Am currently archiving all my Tiny interview and concert footage for possible DVD releases, including a special performance of all patriotic numbers filmed on July 4, 1994 at a friend’s home in Dallas.”
I posed another question to my olde Dallas compadre: “Why do you want to start this fan club?” *(I’m trying not to lose it here-air conditioning is still humming and Bix Beiderbecke is wailin’ in the background.) BB reply: “I am reactivating his friendship due to his exploding popularity on YouTube, in an effort to sell the 500 “Mr. Ed” singles I still have in my closet. I produced the “Mr. Ed” single in 1984. Color vinyl, picture sleeve.” A horse is a horse of course of course, I believe the song goes?
I was also interested whether Bucksy thought Tiny would have a lasting role in music history. His response surprised me, but here it is…”As time passes, Tiny’s current status as a one hit wonder/novelty act is unlikely to change, barring a comeback or miracle. I did what I could to fight that, and now just want to sell these “Mr. Ed” singles.” But later in our phone conversation he revealed his belief that the electronic media, such as YouTube and Ebay, was rekindling embers of Tim Trippiness, so maybe his skepticism is periodically abated?
*So now let me get to the real meat, buffalo beef that is, of this bleedin’ bottle of ink. And so I posed the all-important-question: “Did Tiny Tim ever MEET THE BEATLES?” I had always associated the two together, maybe because of the tie-in with the ‘youth culture’ or the ‘HIPPIES’, as they are often called (*I don’t believe that a satisfactory definition of hippy has ever been provided, Tiny was probably the FIRST HIPPY ever!) “Fun is the one thing that money can’t buy. Something inside that was always denied for so many years.”
In my exclusive interview and pristine email account with Bucks Burnett, reveals fresh data by way of a Fab Four/Tiny Tim connectivity circuit. In reality, though the associations are minimal, Mister Tim only met two Beatles. The most fascinating encounter is with George Harrison. Sometime in the late fall of 1968, when George was visiting New York, George invited Tiny to his hotel room in Manhattan, and he said to him as he was greeted at the door, “it is a pleasure meeting you, a member of the greatest recording vocal group in the history of popular music.” Mister Tim continues, “Do you mind if I sing you a song?” George says: “No, go right ahead.” Tiny sings Nowhere Man in a falsetto voice. Then George pauses him, “Wait a minute, just say, ‘Merry Christmas Beatles’ and go into that song.”
George did record the song on a portable recorder, and so it appeared on The Beatles Christmas Fan Club flexi disc. These flexi discs would be issued out to their devoted fans every year. I haven’t heard it, but Bucks Burnett said it is a bit of a pickle. Tim uses two keys on it and was too nervous, being in the company of rock royalty.
After this recording was finished, George and Tiny went over to the studio where Frank Sinatra was recording his album Cycles for Reprise records. Tiny and George gleamed at Frank while he recorded My Way…this is amazing! There is a photo of Tiny and Frank on the back of the album. Bucksy clued me in, that George and Frank had their picture taken together too. The details of this episode have faded to the mists of time, as Tiny, Frank, and George have all passed away. The two photos still talk, though.
Another encounter with a Beatle was when Ringo Starr was a guest host on Laugh-In; this show was first broadcast on February 23, 1970. You can see much of Ringo’s appearance on You Tube. Bucks let me know that they did not actually appear on screen together, but did hang out together backstage, I presume, getting on splendidly with the greatest all time rock drummer!
One bootleg sound-bite that I’m longing to hear, is a “song snippet of John and the Lads making up a song with John singing ‘Tiny Tim for president, Tiny Tim for Queen’ over and over again” (direct quote from Bucks Burnett’s exclusive Fab Four email).
I would be amiss without mentioning Tiny’s Royal Albert Hall performance of October 30th, 1968. All Four Beatles were in attendance at this show *(a miraculous fact to contemplate)! And Bucks Burnett told me that Apple Records took out a full page ad in the program. This recording lay idle in a studio vault for some thirty two years, but was ultimately issued by Rhino Records, in a limited edition, in July of 2000. The original program has been reproduced and is included in this package. Tiny is accompanied by a full orchestra, and I look forward to hearing this rarity!
I found an info-brimmed interview: Remembering Tiny Tim by Ernie Clark, conducted by phone on May 21, 1993 by phone. Most of this is Tiny reflecting on his Reprise Records’ release, God Bless Tiny Tim, but there are some tidbits about Bob Dylan and a few other fragments on the Fab Four. For example, Tim once recorded a song Bring Back The Beatles, written by David Peel; I doubt that anyone has heard this? I will include this little flourish for you (Tiny waxing on The Beatles, ya know) verbatim from the Ernie Clark interview.
Tiny: … “I never met John Lennon, may he rest in peace, and I never met Paul McCartney. When I lived in New York, I lived at the Hotel Olcott which is at 72nd and Central Park West right next to the Dakota apartments. I did see Mr. Lennon walking down the street once. It must have been the same year he died. I saw him as I was walking up to the hotel. I know it was him, but I didn’t have the nerve to say “hello,” but I’m sure he saw me. That’s the only time I saw him.”
Mister Tim continues with Paul…”The closest I came to Paul McCartney was with Linda Eastman. I knew her from The Scene. She was also at the Lower Delancey, later known as the Fillmore East. She was very nice looking. I can’t say I didn’t admire her. She always had a camera in her hand and I think all she did was smile at me. We never had any conversations. I met her again after I made it in ’68 with “Tiptoe Through The Tulips.” She was in Hollywood, I think she was working for Mademoiselle magazine and I remember that she came down to take pictures of me for an interview.”
‘A sadness came over me when I thought of how Mister Tim was marginalized by an insensitive crowd, typecast as a mere novelty act. It is very sad also that he died of a heart attack, or quite possibly a broken heart, at the ripe age of 64. “Will you still feed me, will you still need me, when I’m 64.”
Arrives at the Tater Palace carrying his ukulele in a Neiman Marcus shopping bag, with a pocketful of merry tunes, ready to rehearse in earnest with The Potato Orchestra. Peach plaid suit and happy as punch. “Catch a falling star and put it in his pocket, never let it fade away.” Sucks a cocktail, an umbrella-‘d magenta hurricane voraciously through a straw while bantering feverishly ’bout UFOs.’
Another interesting tidbit that I learned from Mister Bucks, when I chatted with him last week, was that Tiny performed at the 1970 Isle of Wight Rock Festival, that took place on August 26-31st at Afton Down, on the western part of the isle. There were 600,000 people at this festival and Mister Tim did a wonderful job, and got raving reviews in The London Sunday Times, not a small feat!
“Tiny Tim stole the show,” it actually said. Tiny performed a twenty minute medley through a megaphone, and ended with “There’ll Always Be An England.” Bucksy’s voice was markedly enthusiastic as he drew the picture of Isle Of Wight, and he let me know you can see this on YouTube. “Every summer we can rent a cottage, in the Isle of Wight, if it’s not too dear. We shall scrimp and save…”
Moreover, it would be irresponsible of me if I neglected to mention Buck’s particular plans for a Tiny Tim Museum. As the theme to The Adams Family goes, “Our house is a museum, when people come to see ’em,” and so it goes similarly with Bucks Burnett, who has in his possession considerable valuable items and archives of this entertainment legend. You could include the teeth molds and he has much in the way of video footage, interviews, and even an originally produced 45 record (Mister Ed).
BB told me that he is scouting out a location to warehouse this spectacular collection of pusillanimous paraphernalia. And while a clearly drafted blue print for slated TT museum is still a ‘work in progress,’ if the truth be told, I think it’s a safe bet that things will firm up in good time. I’m interpolating freely also when I say that the Tiny Tim Fan Club will most certainly be a quasi-cyber-museum itself, but hey, it could be true. “Ooh, ooh, what a little moonlight will do, ooh, ooh, what a little moonlight will do to you. Your in love, exchanging glances, and doo-se-doo, engage romances with you ooh ooh, what a little moonlight will do!”
Withal, and I would be a bleeding fool if I omitted Mister Burnett’s plans for a documentary on Tiny Tim. You can see a nice little YouTube video of Tiny, on the fan club site, handling,… groping (caressing) 8-tracks and talking into the camera about some best made plans. This was shot in Denton, I believe when he was recording his Girl album. “Is there anybody going to listen to my story all about the girl who came to stay? She’s the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry, still you don’t regret a single day. Ah girl…”
This was the last time that Bucks ever saw him, as BB intimated in our telephone conversation last week. I do know that he much material to work with to create this documentary, so we must be on the lookout for it! “Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure, did she understand it when they said? That a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure, will she still believe it when he’s dead. Ah Girl…”
So send your dues in to Mister Bucks and be a member of the Tiny Tim Fan Club! My check is in the mail already, folks (or will be shortly). He (Tiny, not BB-but he on a fun trip himself) had an interesting life, seemingly from an earlier era…before talkies, Tim channels Irving Kaufman, Al Jolsen, Ada Jones, Bing Crosby, Billy Murray, Rudy Valee …let’s not leave out Lennon/McCartney. I want to snatch up some of these olde 78s! “Look and you’ll see, Diamond Skies where white deer fly, out space-d on the Run Ruby robes are swaying silk skies runnin’, Flaming sun sipping Strawberry Tea, We beloved into thee, Eternally.”
Bucks says: “Enjoy the Tiny things in life at:”
FOR ALL THINGS BEATLES-ESQUE CHECK OUT:
P.S. Bucks thinks Honey Pie was written for TT-good theory, we will write Sir Paul about that!