“The machinery of his body has failed, but his soul is with us and will always be with us.” That writes the family of Tiny Legs Tim in a poignant announcement. “Tim is no longer there. He died this afternoon as a result of cardiac arrest during surgery.”“Thank you for all the support and positive energy over the past few days. Tim has left in good spirits for surgery this morning and now to rest forever.”
In 2020 Tiny Legs Tim still performed at UZ Gent. A special moment, because the musician himself was a patient in the hospital for a while. He had struggled with a serious liver disease since his adolescence and in recent years talked openly about how the doctors at UZ Gent helped him through it. (read more under video)
His stage name also refers to that disease: it gave him skinny legs. At the age of 23, he underwent a liver transplant, which followed a long rehabilitation, complications, and, four years later, a second transplant. “That second transplant was my salvation, but I was very deep at times, it hung by a thread a few times,” he said a few years ago.
Lately, things have gotten worse for him. “A few weeks ago he had started to struggle and had contracted an infection,” says Griet De Blende, who arranged the international management of Tiny Legs Tim. “He had been in the hospital for some time and was due to undergo another liver transplant today. No one thought it would be fatal.”
ALSO READ: The story of Tiny Legs Tim by De Gentenaar retired journalist Rudy Tollenaere
Name a blues festival in our country and Tiny Legs Tim played there. The Gentse Feesten also held no secrets for the immigrant from West Flanders with a past as a biology teacher. Fans, organizers and musician friends reacted to reports on social media. “By the way dear Tim, you were on our stage 4 more times this summer, you brought beauty and depth, color in so many different shades. Thank you friend”, writes Stefaan De Winter.
“No Missy Sippy without him”
Friends and fellow musicians gathered in the well-known blues and roots club Missy Sippy in Little Turkey on Wednesday evening. Tiny Legs Tim performed a lot there.
“He was my best friend and best friend at the same time and also a witness at my wedding,” says Marie Follebout, manager of the cafe. She lets her tears run free when she talks about Tim . “I met him 12 years ago in the Hotsy Totsy. We clicked fantastically well and we became friends for life.”
Tiny Legs Tim was one of the founders of the Missy Sippy. “Without him, the cafe would never have opened,” says Marie. “He was our counselor and house musician. Tim breathed blues and was the best blues artist in our country. He opened up the music so that it was not only music for old people but also became hip with the youth. Now that he is dead, a foundation of the Missy Sippy is falling.”
“All the customers and musicians wondered why Tim didn’t come to the cafe to jam in the past few weeks. But Tim had been fighting for his life for many years. Unfortunately, he did not survive his last fight.”