Leonard Nimoy

What is a Leonard Nimoy? To most people, he's Spock. To others, he's also the man who brought us the love-it-or-hate it "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" and the inadvertently funny covers of pop songs found on Rhino Records' Golden Throats. What many people don't know is that Leonard Nimoy was an overnight smash when his records hit the late 60s-early 70s music scene.

The public tends to think of Nimoy in his Spock persona… calm, collected, and logical. But Nimoy as a man was groovy, hip, keenly interested in social causes, and a man with a good sense of humor who didn't let fame go to his head. These sensibilities are on display in the series of records he made for Paramount Pictures' subsidiary, Dot Records, from 1967 to 1970.

The album that launched his musical career, Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space, came about thanks to Desilu Studios exec, Herbert F. Solow (Star Trek, Mannix, Mission: Impossible, The Courtship of Eddie's Father). Solow was so impressed by Star Trek's licensing potential that he issued a memo urging to "push any record company that wants to do an outer space or Vulcan or any other single record or album, be it straight dramatic music, weird music, Nichelle Nichols singing, Bill Shatner doing bird calls or even the sound of Gene Roddenberry polishing a semi-precious stone on his grinder."
Before long, Charles Grean of Dot Records was on the job, assembling tracks for the record. When his daughter found out what he was doing, she informed him that no Star Trek album would be complete without music from Mr. Spock. Nimoy agreed to collaborate on the fun outer space album, and with its release, he became a pop music idol.

During his record signing tours, Nimoy was besieged by thousands of adoring fans. He signed over 8,000 autographs in one sitting and even had to resort to daring escapes at times when the crowds started to get out of control. He appeared in the teeny bopper music mags of the time (16, Tiger Beat, Flip, and Fave) and was bombarded with fan mail, sometimes a mountain taller than he was.

His second album, Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, featured his Spock persona on one side and his real persona on the other. As producer, Grean brilliantly architected the album. Grean was an industry vet known for monster hits of yesteryear such as The Thing and I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts. He penned over half the songs on the LP, including the fabulous Highly Illogical and The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. These novelty songs were balanced by covers such as Gentle on My Mind and If I Were a Carpenter.

Nimoy's next release, The Way I Feel, moved further away from Spock and focused on socially-conscious ballads and pop songs such as Sunny, Both Sides Now, and I'd Love Making Love to You. Some people today mock his music from this time, but albums like this prove that Nimoy was really cool.

On The Touch of Leonard Nimoy, he collaborated with George Tipton, who is responsible for many TV theme songs (The Courtship of Eddie's Father, The Love Boat, Soap, Benson, etc.), and who worked alongside Harry Nillson on such projects as The Point, Midnight Cowboy, and the cult favorite cinematic ode to the merits of acid, Skiddoo. Together, Nimoy and Tipton created an album of folk-tinged ballads that include the classic Maiden Wine and Piece of Hope.

His final release, The New World of Leonard Nimoy, remains a bit of a mystery. Grean and Tipton are no longer involved, and a variety of arrangers were brought in, resulting in an album with no definite musical identity. Why this happened, it's hard to say. Four out of the five cuts immortalized on Golden Throats appear on this album, and although it is his weakest LP, it remains a fun listen, especially for the ultra-mod cut, The Sun Will Rise, the only track Nimoy composed.

So what is a Leonard Nimoy? A man who was just "cashing in" on his Spock persona or a cool guy with talent and something to say? Take a sonic trip back to the flower power days, Nimoy style, and find out what all the kids were raving about.

Darlene Waddington

For in-depth information about Nimoy's music, along with far-out photos, articles, and samples of his tracks, visit www.maidenwine.com

Leonard Nimoy links

Buy Leonard Nimoy CDs at Amazon.com
Thanks to Leonard Nimoy
The Leonard Nimoy Album Page
Star Trek @ Wikipedia


Leonard Nimoy - A Visit To A Sad Planet (7")

Leonard Nimoy - Present Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space

Leonard Nimoy - Space Oddyssey

Leonard Nimoy - The Touch Of Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy - Two Sides Of Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy - The Way I Feel