DEAR JERRY: As a Trekker for over 40 years, I have a some questions about records made by members of the Star Trek cast.
How many of the Star Trek regulars made albums, apart from “Star Trek” soundtracks and guest appearances on other people's records?
Georgia Fowler, Lancaster, Pa.
DEAR GEORGIA: Probably more than even the ship's computer knows.
For quantity alone, Leonard Nimoy (First Officer Spock) is the most prolific in Star Fleet.
Not counting reissues and repackages, Nimoy sang and talked his way through five albums for Dot, all between 1967 and '69.
In order of release, they are: “Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space” (DLP-25794); “Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy” (DLP-25835) “The Way I Feel” (DLP-25883); “The Touch of Leonard Nimoy” (DLP-25910); and “The New World” (DLP-25966).
In 1970 he narrated “The Illustrated Man - The Velt Marionettes Inc.” (Caedmon 1479).
William Shatner's (Captain James T. Kirk) debut LP came out in 1969, “The Transformed Man” (Decca 75043).
He followed with two 1970 narratives: “Isaac Asimov Foundation Psychohistorians” (Caedmon 1508) and “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (Caedmon 1509).
A double LP recorded during a personal appearance came out in 1977. It is appropriately titled “William Shatner Live” (Lemli 00001).
Neither Nimoy nor Shatner would have gone to Hollywood compliments of American Idol.
Sticking with the Original Star Trek Series, Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) revealed herself to be one of the two best singers on the Enterprise, with her 1968 LP, “Down to Earth” (Epic 26351).
Nearly 20 years later, with Nichelle's Star Trek character flourishing in syndication, along came an LP titled “Uhura Sings” (R-Way 001).
The other bona fide vocalist on board is Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman Janice Rand).
Though we know of no albums by Grace. She did release a couple of Star Trek inspired singles in the mid-'70s, “Take a Star Trip” and “Disco Trekkin',” both on her own label GLW.
Whitney began her career, in the mid-'50s, as a night club singer.
One of Star Fleet's most popular characters is Lt. Commander Data, the android on Star Trek the Next Generation, played perfectly by Brent Spiner.
Brent's 1991 crooner collection of '40s type tunes surprised many a Trekker. On “Ol' Yellow Eyes Is Back (Bay Cities 2004), the whole galaxy discovered what a fine vocalist he is.
Data's continuing popularity is reflected somewhat by prices asked for his CD, often in the $200 to $300 range.
Though Star Trek Voyager's holographic doctor (Robert Picardo) occasionally sang on the show, he waited until the 21st century to record. Thus far, he has two CD albums: “Basic Bob” (2001) and “Extreme Bob” (2003).
Both are his own productions, and are marketed online by his fan club.
Occasionally the reverse happened, when an established singing star guested on one of the Trek shows.
James Darren is a prime example, as he the appeared in eight episodes of Star Trek - Deep Space Nine, portraying the holographic lounge singer, Vic Fontaine.
Below are some additions and comments received after this column originally ran:
I really enjoyed reading your article on Star Trek. However there is one you overlooked. I have a CD by Tim Russ. He is the actor who played Tuvok on Star Trek Voyager. It is on Crescendo GNPD-2270 and dated 2000.There is a little booklet that includes a picture of him in his Star Trek uniform. There are some other Star Trek cast members doing back-up vocals for Brent Spiner. I did check the CD and it states that on “It's a Sin to Tell a Lie” the background vocals are by the Sunspots, who are identified Levar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathon Frakes, and Patrick Stewart.
David G. Harper, via e-mail
Your response about Star Trek alumni with recordings didn't mention Scott Bakula, who played Captain Jonathan Archer in Star Trek: Enterprise. Scott didn't have traditional pop releases, but there is a CD-single from the Quantum Leap soundtrack, with Scott singing his original composition, “Somewhere in the Night” and “I Believe,” the Quantum Leap theme. Also, Scott was nominated for a Tony as Best Actor in a Musical (“Romance, Romance”), in 1988.
Joanne Emig, York, Pa.
I was never much of a Star Trek fan, but I was a fan of “Has Been,” the album made by William Shatner in 2004. It is produced and predominantly written by Ben Folds, with the assistance of a number of artists, like Henry Rollins. This CD reached No. 22 on Billboard's Top Heatseakers chart. I discovered “Has Been” when Shatner, Ben Folds, and Joe Jackson performed “Common People” on either Letterman’s or Leno’s show. It caught my attention because it is so unusual. I bought the album and love it! Shatner even penned a couple of the songs, but I didn’t like those as much as ones written by Ben Folds. I’ve heard examples of Shatner’s previous, ahem, “work” on NPR’s Annoying Music Show. They were just that: annoying. But, with Ben Folds' influence and guidance, “Has Been” is really cool.
Jennie Tunkieicz, Milwaukee.
DEAR JERRY: Though I didn't buy it, I spotted a CD credited to Lewis Lymon. Is he the same person who sang as Frankie Lymon, and had hits with the Teenagers?
Lenny Kensington, Tulsa, Okla.
DEAR LENNY: No, but it's all in the family. Lewis is Frankie Lymon's younger brother.
With backing by the Teenchords, Lewis began his own recording career in late 1956, the breakthrough year for Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.
Despite being a regional hit in the northeast, the debut release for Lewis, “I'm So Happy (Tra La-La-La-La-La)” (Fury 1000), did not chart nationally.
Subsequent recordings did no better outside the tri-state area, though a few, such as “Too Young” and “Dance Girl,” are considered doo-wop classics.
Recordings by the younger Lymon can be found crediting him as Lewis, Louis, or Louie, which answers a question from Dave Leveton, of Gainesville, Va.
Frankie died February 27, 1968 of a drug overdose, at just 25. Lewis Lymon is believed to be very much alive.
IZ ZAT SO? Of all the Star Trek stars with vinyl records, only Leonard Nimoy took up residence on any of the national charts.
Both “Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space” and “Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy” did at least appear in the Top 100 LPs, though neither reached the Top 80.
Nimoy best-selling single, “A Visit to a Sad Planet” (Dot 17038), came out in September '67, coinciding with Star Trek's second season premier. Still, it failed to beam into the Top 100.