LEONARD NI­MOY SINGS

Public News (Houston) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Cramp­ton

This ar­ti­cle is definitely for those of us over “a cer­tain age” – those of us who watched and re­mem­bered the orig­i­nal broad­casts of Star Trek from 1966 to 1968! You young­sters may know Leonard Ni­moy from all the fol­low-up Star Trek movies, but WE saw and lived the in­no­va­tive se­ries and met him as it hap­pened!

Leonard Ni­moy, of course, por­trayed the half-Vul­can half-Hu­man Mr. Spock on the se­ries and in all the fol­low-ups, main­tain­ing and de­vel­op­ing the char­ac­ter from the ground­break­ing pi­lot “The Cage”, which was filmed in late 1964, un­til his fi­nal ap­pear­ance (be­fore his death) in the 2013 “Star Trek: Into Dark­ness”.

“The Cage” was never aired (un­til 1988, that is!), but the footage was in­cor­po­rated into the two-part “The Menagerie”, aired dur­ing the first (1966) sea­son.

Leonard Ni­moy was NOT just an ac­tor, al­though many folks don’t know that. He was also a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher; a writer and nov­el­ist; a TV and movie di­rec­tor; a book, TV and film pro­ducer; a poet; a song­writer and a singer! This ar­ti­cle, nat­u­rally, is about his ca­reer as a song­writer and singer.

Wait, you didn’t KNOW that Leonard Ni­moy was a song­writer and singer? He recorded five albums dur­ing his ca­reer – that’s one more than ei­ther Roy Rogers or Hank Wil­son recorded! (I once had ALL FIVE, and wish I still had them!)

Ni­moy’s first al­bum came about through the de­mands of one of Mr. Spock’s avid fans – how else?! Dot Records VIP Charles Green was plan­ning a stu­dio al­bum of Star Trek-based “space mu­sic”. His teenaged daugh­ter in­formed him that if he was record­ing “space mu­sic”, ES­PE­CIALLY Star Trek “space mu­sic” than, of course, Mr. Spock would HAVE to be on it! Green con­tacted Ni­moy, who was in­ter­ested.

The 1967 al­bum Mr. Spock’s Mu­sic From Outer Space was the re­sult, and reached num­ber 83 on the Bill­board charts, with Ni­moy’s sin­gle A Visit to a Small Planet / Theme From Star Trek go­ing up to num­ber 121 on Bill­board. Th­ese sales fig­ures were suc­cess­ful enough that Dot of­fered Ni­moy a record­ing con­tract. Green also per­son­ally pro­duced Ni­moy’s first four albums.

Two Sides of Leonard Ni­moy fol­lowed, re­leased in early 1968. Side one was, again, Star Trek-based “space mu­sic”, but the songs were more per­sonal, re­flect­ing Mr. Spock’s con­flict be­tween his Vul­can and Hu­man halves, es­pe­cially By My­self and Once I Smiled. Once I Smiled was based on “This Side of Par­adise” (Sea­son one, Episode twenty-four, March 2, 1967), in which Mr. Spock learned how to ex­press and ex­hibit hu­man emo­tions, even love. In the clos­ing scene of the episode, Spock com­ments about his ex­pe­ri­ences, ob­serv­ing, “I’ve lit­tle to say about it, Cap­tain ... ex­cept that for the first time in my life, I was happy.” Side two is a mélange of pop and coun­try, and in­cludes the clas­sic Bal­lad of Bilbo Bag­gins. Too bad that this song didn’t get picked up for Jackson’s movies!

Fall 1968 brought the release of The Way I Feel, Ni­moy’s third al­bum. This al­bum pretty much got away from the Mr. Spock per­sona, mostly con­sist­ing of folk songs. Two tracks, how­ever, Con­sil­ium and Where It’s At, were recita­tions, not songs, and kind of can be re­lated to Mr. Spock – or at least, they’re kind of “spacey”.

With 1969 came al­bum four, The Touch of Leonard Ni­moy, all folk and love songs. An in­ter­est­ing note is that in Star Trek’s third sea­son episode (Novem­ber 22, 1968, episode No. 65) “Plato’s Stepchil­dren”, Mr. Spock was forced by highly sadis­tic telekenitic aliens to laugh, cry, and sing a love song to Lt. Uhura and Nurse Chapel, and even kiss Chapel (who car­ried an un­re­quited torch for Mr. Spock her en­tire time on the se­ries). The song Mr. Spock sings to Uhura and Chapel is Maiden Wine, which Ni­moy wrote, and is on this al­bum. (Note: this episode was banned in the UK for the sadis­tic theme, and sup­pos­edly was the ‘first inter-racial kiss’ – that is, be­tween a white man – Kirk - and a black woman – Uhura – on US Tele­vi­sion). Ni­moy also wrote the songs Con­tact and Piece of Hope on this al­bum.

The New World of Leonard Ni­moy was his fifth and fi­nal al­bum, in June 1970. It was coun­try on side one, and coun­try-rock and folk on side two. Ni­moy wrote The Sun Will Rise from side two.

As I said be­fore, un­for­tu­nately, none of th­ese albums have been re-re­leased on CD – but they are still avail­able as pretty darned ex­pen­sive vinyl LPs! There are now two cur­rent com­pi­la­tions of Ni­moy’s mu­sic on CD (one of which also in­cludes sev­eral ‘songs’ by Wil­liam Shat­ner), which do have most of his songs on them. But they are NOT the orig­i­nal albums.

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