As Bing Crosby once put it, the rise of Tiny Tim represents ‘one of the most phenomenal success stories in show business.’ In 1968, after years of playing dive bars and lesbian cabarets on the Greenwich Village scene, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bob Dylan and Lenny Bruce, the falsetto-voiced, ukulele-playing Tiny Tim landed a recording contract with Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label and an appearance on NBC’s Laugh-In. The resulting album, God Bless Tiny Tim, and its single, ‘Tip-Toe Thru’ The Tulips With Me,’ catapulted him to the highest levels of fame.
Soon, Tiny was playing to huge audiences in the USA and Europe, while his marriage to the seventeen-year-old ‘Miss’ Vicki was broadcast on The Tonight Show in front of an audience of fifty million. Before long, however, his star began to fade. Miss Vicki left him, his earnings evaporated, and the mainstream turned its back on him. He would spend the rest of his life trying to revive his career, with many of his attempts taking a turn toward the absurd.
While he is often characterized as an oddball curio, Tiny Tim was a master interpreter of early American popular song, and his story is one of Shakespearean tragedy framed around a bizarre yet loveable public persona. Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with family, friends, and associates, plus access to Tiny’s diaries, which have never before been made public, Eternal Troubadour tells the incredible true story of one of the most fascinating yet misunderstood figures in the history of popular music.
Justin Martell is an independent filmmaker and writer. Considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Tiny Tim, he has consulted on and contributed liner notes to two posthumous Tiny Tim releases, I’ve Never Seen A Straight Banana (Collector’s Choice, 2009) and Lost & Found: Volume 1 (Secret Seven Records, 2011). In 2013,he put out a previously unreleased Tiny Tim track on a limited-edition Edison wax cylinder, which Time magazine dubbed the ‘most retro record release ever.’
Alanna Wray McDonald is a poet, writer, and freelance art director for film and television. She resides in Iowa and Brooklyn, New York.