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Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life Of Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim performing at an event in Tennessee in the late 1980s

His instrument was small, but his persona was not. Herbert Khaury, known as “Tiny Tim,” was born in New York in the late 30s, became a star in the 60s and later moved to Iowa for a time before he died in 1996.

Justin Martell, author of a new biography about Tiny Tim, says that he first became aware of the musician at a Halloween theme park.

“When I was 7 years old, I caught Tiny Tim at a Halloween theme Park called Spooky World, and later on in high school I was introduced to his music, and then my parents became horrified when I became obsessed,” Martell says. “15 years later, here we are.”

In his new book Eternal Troubadour: The Improbably Life of Tiny Tim, Martell writes about Tiny Tim’s personal life and his strong beliefs in family values and Christianity. He also writes about how his career developed. He didn’t always go by the name “Tiny Tim.”

“His first stage name,” says Martell, “was Larry Love. He said himself he’d have loved to get famous with that name instead. He had lots of characters that he cycled through.”

During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Martell and his collaborator Alanna Wray McDonald about their new book and about Herbert Khaury, the man behind the character.

“When he started singing in falsetto, he knew he had a winning act because his father hated it,” Martell says. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa