Tiny Tim began developing a cult following in New York City around 1967. This brought him to the attention of film-maker Barry Feinstein, who was working with Peter Yarrow on the anti-establishment hippy cult movie You Are What You Eat. They invited Tiny Tim out to the famous "Big Pink" house on the outskirts of Woodstock, New York, where Bob Dylan and the Band had been woodshedding and recording. They filmed him performing several songs which were featured in the movie. The movie led to an appearance on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, which brought him into the national spotlight.
With an extraordinary appearance and unforgettable high falsetto/vibrato voice, Tiny Tim began appearing on popular television shows like Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason and Johnny Carson, usually encouraged to sing his one big hit, "Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips." Standing at over six feet tall, with his long curly hair, large nose and tiny ukulele, Tiny Tim definitely stood out.
Although pigeonholed as a novelty act, Tiny Tim was not just a comedian. He was actually an archivist of early 20th century music and had a wide knowledge of American music from that era. His concert repertoire contained songs by a wide variety of composers, many of them obscure. His live performances, for example, could contain a serious Irving Berlin composition one moment and Sony and Cher's "I Got You Babe" the next.
This set was recorded at the Fillmore Auditorium in May of 1968, when Tiny Tim opened a bill featuring H. P. Lovecraft, Crome Syrcus and hometown favorites The Loading Zone. One might expect this to have been a daunting experience for Tiny Tim, with hippy hecklers galore. It was actually quite the opposite, as the audience actually embraced his performance, and in doing so, brought out the best in what he had to offer - much of it unique to their ears and full of surprises.
Following a humorous introduction set to a recorded version of "The Stripper" (newly popular at the time due to its use in a Noxzema shaving cream TV commercial), Tiny Tim kicks off his set with the Maurice Chevalier composition, "Livin' In The Sunlight, Lovin' In The Moonlight," followed by "Animal Crackers In My Soup," a song made famous by Shirley Temple in the 1935 film Curly Top. He then astounds the audience by performing a trio, "On the Old Front Porch," taking on all three vocal parts himself! Here we discover that Tiny Tim's voice is not relegated to a high falsetto, as he even sings the part of the girl's father in the baritone range! Later in the set, he extends this same unique approach to a duet with himself on Sony and Cher's "I Got You Babe." Another remarkable number during this performance is his take on Irving Berlin's "Stay Down Here Where You Belong." This song is written from the perspective of Satan talking to his son and is a powerful condemnation of war. Here he sings in his baritone range throughout.
It should also be noted that Tiny Tim is accompanied on this set by the Holy Mackerel, a band that recorded one obscure album for Reprise in 1968 and worked on the God Bless Tiny Tim album. The musicians featured on this set are guitarist Ralph Williams (brother of popular songwriter Paul Williams), original Jefferson Airplane bassist Bob Harvey and ex-Turtles drummer Don Murray.
Tiny Tim's signature song, "Tiptoe Thru The Tulips" is here as well, as are entertaining versions of the mostly spoken word composition "The Viper," and the 1950s hit "Earth Angel." However, above and beyond the music, it is Tiny Tim's ultra-polite personality and utter uniqueness that obviously delights the San Francisco audience.
-Written by Alan Bershaw