Rhino Reading Room: Tiny Tim and Lowell George
It’s time to return to the Rhino Reading Room to remind you of two artists from the Rhino catalog who are celebrating birthdays this month and have either written memoirs or have had biographies written about them. You don’t necessarily have to be a big fan of both artists to keep reading, but if you enjoy getting immersed in the life stories of musicians, then you might just want to read about both of them!
Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim, by Justin Martell with Alanna Wray McDonald
“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.”
“The late Lowell George is best known as the lead singer, slide guitarist, songwriter and producer of Little Feat. George's humor and surreal lyrics became a Little Feat trademark, making songs like ‘Fat Man in the Bathtub’ and ‘Dixie Chicken’ unforgettable. Rock and Roll Doctor explores the genius that animated Little Feat – from George's early bands to his work with Frank Zappa, landmark albums such as Feats Don't Fail Me Now and The Last Record Album, and his later production work with Linda Ronstadt and the Grateful Dead. George's colorful childhood is covered in depth – as is his solo career after Little Feat that was cut short tragically. Each Little Feat album is treated to a separate chapter that examines the development of every song – how it was conceived, recorded and produced. The analysis of Little Feat's complex rhythms will fascinate musicians and fans alike.”