Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Nick Lucas Connection

In 1922, Nick Lucas recorded the first solo jazz guitar record, for Pathe. Here it is re-recorded a year later for Brunswick. His guitar style transcends jazz, and probably influenced many country and blues players as well. Known as "The Crooning Troubadour," he brought guitar to the forefront of the orchestra, replacing the banjo as a rhythm instrument, as well as being the first singing guitar player. He was also the first person to have a signature Gibson guitar named after him. It was designed with a deep body for extra volume. Bob Dylan used this model in the mid 60's, and below you can hear a sample of what it sounded like. Lucas' biggest hit, "Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips" was from the 1929 musical Gold Diggers of Broadway, and was revived by Tiny Tim in the late 60's. Dylan crossed paths with Tiny Tim on more than one occasion. In Chronicles: Volume One, he writes (in reference to the scene at Cafe Wha?)

At about eight o'clock, the whole daytime menagerie would come to a halt... Everyone who had been there during the day would pack up. One of the guys who played in the afternoons was the falsetto-speaking Tiny Tim. He played ukulele and sang like a girl -- old standard songs from the '20s. I got to talking to him a few times and asked him what other kinds of places there were to work around here and he told me that sometimes he played at a place in Times Square called Hubert's Flea Circus Museum. I'd find out about that place later.

Tiny Tim stopped by Big Pink in 1967, to record four tracks with The Band, also featured below and yet another chapter of The Basement Tapes. A few of these songs were featured in the film You Are What You Eat, including a fabulous duet with his girlfriend Eleanor Baruchian on "I Got You Babe." He later married another girl, known as Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show, in what was one of the highest rated television broadcasts at the time. I used to see him walking around on the upper-west side, in the 1980's, looking like a sad, dejected clown. He apparently had an apartment at The Dakota. Tiny Tim died in 1996, while performing "Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips" in Minneapolis.

Download: "Pickin' The Guitar" mp3

Download: "Teasing The Frets" mp3

Download: "Somebody Like You" mp3

Download: "Tip-Toe Thru The Tulips" mp3

More on Nick Lucas: HERE and HERE

Nick Lucas on YouTube, 1929.

Download: "You Don't Have To Do That" mp3

Download: Tiny Tim and The Band

"Be My Baby" mp3
"I Got You Babe" (with Eleanor Baruchian) mp3
"Sonny Boy" mp3
"Memphis, Tennesee" mp3

Tiny Tim on Laugh-In via YouTube

Buy Tiny Tim music at Amazon
Buy Nick Lucas music at Venerable Music
or at your local independently owned record store.


d. chedwick bryant said...

thanks for the bob snippet. !

Ted Barron said...

sure thing, ched. i'm always looking for any obtuse angle to insert a dylan track into one of my posts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Nick Lucas sides...I still like his version of "Tulips" best (sorry, Tiny).

Those instrumentals sound a bit more ragtime/parlor music to me than jazz, but I'm no expert.

Anonymous said...

Anything hometown related cheers me.