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Steve Paul Dies at 71; Owned ’60s Club in New York Where Tiny Tim Was Discovered by Mo Ostin
Allyn Baum/New York Times
The Scene nightclub in 1965. It first drew artists and stagehands, then rockers like Jimi Hendrix.
Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times
Steve Paul in 1965.
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Published: October 23, 2012
You first encountered Teddy, the sharkskin-suited maître d’hôtel, on the sidewalk. If you got past him, Steve Paul was at the door to insult you.
The insult, usually devilishly clever, was the cover charge to one of New York City's hottest, most intriguing clubs in the 1960s. It was called the Scene, and it was the brainchild of the dashing, idiosyncratic Mr. Paul, who was 23 when he opened it in 1964. It became famous for brilliant moments in the history of rock music, as the place where Jimi Hendrix and the Doors shaped the music of the ’60s in inspired jam sessions.
Mr. Paul, who went on to manage Johnny Winter and other rock stars and record them for his own label, died at 71 on Sunday at a hospital in Queens. His friend Tariq Abdus-Sabur said the cause was not yet known.
The Scene attracted swarms of jet-setters, Broadway dancers, motorcycle riders and Manhattan’s moneyed elite through two incarnations in its six-year life.
The first was as a refuge for performers, stagehands and artists, including stars like Sammy Davis Jr. and Liza Minnelli, who might burst into impromptu song. Richard Pryor might tell jokes. Tennessee Williams liked to stop by. Andy Warhol filmed an underground movie of Scene patrons watching an underground movie.
But after a few years the scene at the Scene began to lose steam, and it went dark. Then the poet Allen Ginsberg and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, among others, stepped in with financial assistance. Mr. Paul’s focus soon changed to rock music. He invited Hendrix to play his first major New York engagement at the Scene in June 1967.
Hendrix liked the place, at 46th Street and Eighth Avenue, as much as the fans liked him. He played long into the night, after most customers had been ushered out and Mr. Paul had locked the doors. "At the Scene, Jimi would completely let himself go — playing all he knew and didn’t know, going beyond sharing — playing all,” David Henderson wrote in his Hendrix biography, " ’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky." "Trying to get it all out."
Before long, acts like Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Traffic, Fleetwood Mac, the Chambers Brothers and Mr. Winter were playing the small club. Tiny Tim, with his ukulele, often opened.
Mr. Paul's ideas could be unconventional. On Thanksgiving 1968, he put Hendrix on a double bill with the classical harpsichordist Fernando Valenti. At other times he mixed Indian classical music with rock, prompting a few adventurous souls to dance to the sitar.
More than anything else, the Scene was Mr. Paul's personal vision, "a childhood dream come untrue" in his typically odd phrase. Newsweek described him as a "combination of sincerity, egotism, coffeehouse literacy and a pseudo-poetic, stream-of-consciousness speech." It provided a sample sentence to illustrate: "I’m searching, always searching," he said, "for self-actualization through personal reality within a larger world reality."
Jim Morrison of the Doors put it more succinctly. "I like to hang around Steve Paul and listen to him rap," he said. "He’s funny."
Stephen Neal Paul was born on April 28, 1941, in the Bronx. The son of a high school principal, he graduated from Dobbs Ferry High School in Westchester County at 16. Within a year he was doing public relations for a New York restaurant, even though he was too young to have a drink there. He soon added another restaurant as a client and then the Peppermint Lounge, where the twist craze took off.
By 1964, he had acquired a five-bedroom town house and found a home for his club on what was then a quite seedy Eighth Avenue. He modeled its labyrinthlike layout on cave-style Parisian discos, and said he saw its 5,000 square feet as his "canvas."
At 25, Mr. Paul had a top-rated prime-time television show, "Steve Paul's The Scene," which featured artists like Aretha Franklin. It began as a local show on Channel 5 and then was syndicated nationally. He later managed stars like Mr. Winter and the McCoys and started Blue Sky Records, a label that was distributed by CBS Records, and recorded hit albums by Mr. Winter, his brother Edgar Winter and others. He produced musical revues for the stage and nightclubs.
Mr. Paul's longtime partner, Robert Kitchen, died three and a half years ago. No immediate family members survive. The Scene closed in 1970.
At the peak of the Scene's success, Mr. Paul garnered national attention, including an appearance on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Newsweek quoted an ABC-TV executive predicting that he would one day be "a myth." The magazine went on to say that a teenage girl had written him, "Dear Steve Paul: Please explain to me about life."
Mr. Paul may not have been a guru with all the answers, but he had no quarrel with being treated as one.
"I know I could become president of the United States," he told Newsweek, "but I really don't need it."
Ode To Uke - an illustrated ukulele novelty book (Written by Arthur Ravenscrag & illustrated by Paul Andrews)
Arthur says: Ode To Uke is a quirky look at the ukulele and its ripple effect on the world since it first landed in Hawaii. There are chapters on country music, ukulele heroes (including Tiny Tim), Hawaii and much more. A tribute to an instrument small in size but large in heart. Find out more at www.ukulelebook.co.uk.
JACLYN MILLER'S TINY TIM TRIBUTE ZINE NOW AVAILABLE, ORDER NOW!
Jaclyn says; Basically it's a tribute zine to Tiny Tim, a way for me to express my personal fascination/delight for Tiny and his music. There's a small amount of biographical information, a lot of illustrations, and some comics with a heavy dose of daydream involved. It's 40 pages, black and white print with an orange card stock cover. You can buy at this link
In 1996 Bill Wagman of radio station KDVS (www.kdvs.org) interviewed Tiny Tim on his radio program. This interview can now be heard on the Secret Seven Records website. Click on the listen tab at the bottom of the information for their great Tiny Tim album "Tiny Tim Lost & Found 1963-1974", which you can order on their website. Special thanks to Mr. Bill Wagman for sharing this rare interview!
"Tiny Tim's Songs and Stories of the Crooners"
is the last recorded interview and performance of 1960's icon and ukulele legend Tiny Tim. Accompanying himself on ukulele, Tiny Tim sings 24 songs and snippets interspersed with remembrances of his life and musical influences.
This professionally produced, 38-minute entertaining and enlightening DVD shows that Tiny Tim was much more than a "one hit wonder." In addition to his trademark falsetto singing voice, Mr. Tim has a strong baritone and expertly mimics the great crooners Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo and Rudy Vallee. He tells why he started playing the ukulele and, with songs and stories, demonstrates his encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the great era of American popular song from the 1890s to the 1940s.
Videotaped at Ukulele Expo '96 just two hours before he suffered a non-fatal heart attack in front of a standing-room-only audience of admiring fans, it was Tiny's wish that "Songs and Stories of the Crooners" be produced expressly for the benefit and promotion of the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of ukulele music and history.
Although perhaps best remembered for his 1968 novelty hit "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" and for his wedding to Miss Vicky on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in front of 40 million viewers, Tiny Tim continued recording and entertaining as America's troubadour to the end. While singing "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" at a comeback performance on November 30th, 1996, he suffered another heart attack and died, ending an amazing five decade career. Tiny Tim remains one of the most instantly recognized personalities in entertainment.Order your copy here: http://www.vidsync.com/tinytim
GOD BLESS TINY TIM ( APRIL 12, 1932 - NOVEMBER 30, 1996) HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO OUR DEAR SWEET TINY ON APRIL 12TH, WE ALL MISS YOU TERRIBLY. THE WORLD ISN'T AS HAPPY A PLACE WITHOUT YOU.
Trying to get 1,000,000 people to vote and get Tiny inducted into the Uke Hall of Fame!
ANNOUNCING THE LATEST TINY TIM CD RELEASE! ADD THIS GREAT NEW CD TO YOUR COLLECTION TODAY. CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO ORDER.
Tiny Tim - "I've Never Seen A Straight Banana - Rare Moments: Volume 1"
We like characters here at 'Collectors' Choice Music', because characters often make the best music, and thus our label roster has the likes of Spike Jones, Shel Silverstein, Little Richard and even Wildman Fischer. But there is one artist who out-characters them all, Mr. Herbert Khaury a.k.a. Tiny Tim, and with this release we proudly add him to our colorful label roster! Actually, Tim's outrageous persona and 'Tonight Show' wedding tended to obscure the fact that the guy was a walking encyclopedia of early American popular music, and you can hear that on this collection of completely UNRELEASED recordings recorded and produced in 1976. Tim takes us from the earliest Edison cylinders all the way up through Eddie Cantor, Bob Dylan and then-contemporary songs of the day, with some originals and no shortage, of, yes, character on these 15 tracks! Tiny Tim biographer Justin Martell contributes liner notes.
Includes 'Prelude: What Strange God Designed Me? I've Never Seen a Straight Banana' (with a full band overdub starring Terre Roche of the Roches); 'Baby Shoes; Mr. Phonograph; It's Not Your Nationality; Nobody Loves a Fat Man; You Are Heaven Here on Earth; The Space Ship Song; Tiny Meets Dylan: Vagabond Lover/Like a Rolling Stone/My Time Is Your Time; Granny/Carolina Mammy; You Can Take Me Away from Dixie (but You Can't Take Dixie from Me); School Days; With My Guitar; Dear Tuesday; I Found You; When They're Old Enough to Know Better (It's Better to Leave Them Alone)', and some ?deleted scenes.? A guaranteed good time, a 'Collectors; Choice Music' exclusive! Available now.
LISTEN TO FREE TINY TIM CONCERT ON LINE!
wolfgangsvault.com has added a free streaming version of a
Tiny Tim concert from May 5, 1968 at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco.
You can find it here: http://concerts.wolfgangsvault.com/arr/tiny-tim-concerts/8065.html
"God Bless Tiny Tim: The Complete Reprise
Studio Masters...And More"
Click Here for All Music Guide Review by Mark Deming
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