In 1979, cult musician Tiny Tim ditched his ukulele and tiptoed out of the tulips to cover Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” on The Tonight Show, above.
The Gong Show-worthy performance left host Johnny Carson—and presumably the majority of home viewers—speechless.
Was it comedy or a fading, mentally unbalanced novelty act’s attempt to rekindle the passion of a fickle spotlight?
Maybe just a particularly unbridled foray into new artistic territory… Like his elaborately formal manners, Tiny Tim’s usual repertoire harkened to an earlier period. (“No one knew more about old music than Tiny Tim,” Bob Dylan once remarked.)
His oddly demure comportment is in short supply here as he veers from his customary falsetto to a more manly lower register, stripping off jacket and braces to showcase a portly, middle aged mid-section. Musicianship also seems a bit wanting, though to be fair, that’s rarely the criteria by which we measure the success of an act that ends with writhing on the floor.
Whatever his intentions, Tiny Tim’s place in the annals of WTF performance history would be secured on this turn alone.
A few years later, he recorded a 20s-tinged “Do Ya Think I”m Sexy” with Gary Lawrence & His Sizzling Syncopators, released inside a greeting card as a 6” flexi disc. The video, below, honors his vintage sensibilities while simultaneously screaming 1982.
The 15 Worst Covers of Beatles Songs: William Shatner, Bill Cosby, Tiny Tim, Sean Connery & Your Excellent Picks
George Harrison Explains Why Everyone Should Play the Ukulele, With Words and Music
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