In 1964, struggling session guitarist and spoon player Leonard Nimoy was tapped by the Beatles to sit in for flu-ridden George Harrison on their famous Ed Sullivan Show debut. Nimoy had impressed Beatle manager Brian Epstein with his Harrison-like eyebrows, face, build and bangs. However, during dress rehearsal, Nimoy's "performance" was so horrible, stagehands refused to work without ear plugs and headphones, and Ed himself made a now-famous fingers-pinching-nose gesture to Epstein. Brian relayed the news to the Fab Four, direct from Ed, that "Leonardo el-stinko."
After a group huddle, Nimoy was canned and George was forced to play, despite a 103 degree fever, pasty face and pimples. Of course, the rest is history. The Beatles were a big hit and went on to fame and fortune. Nimoy took up acting, eventually landing a small role on an NBC science fiction show playing a logical alien... with a Beatle haircut.
The story might have ended there, but Nimoy could not get the Beatles out of his Vulcan mind. He soon formed his own quartet, using his Star Trek co-stars, and although their music was branded as "boldly going where no band has gone before - the sewer" and "hilariously inept" by critics, the popularity of their TV show led Capitol to sign the band, and issue their infamous debut, "Meet The Trekles."
Capitol was sure The Trekles were the next Monkees. After all, each had a hit NBC show to promote them. Yet despite Capitol's backing of the album, with its subtle design cues that this group was equal to the Beatles, the public never got caught up in Treklemania. Their first single, "Hey Hey We're the Trekles and We're Comin' to Your Sun," earned nothing but laughs, jeers and lawsuits.
Yet Nimoy was not deterred. He decided to scrap "the crappy part" of the Trekles, Scotty and Bones, and along with pal William "Kirk" Shatner, released one followup after another. "Trekarthur Park," "The Trektember of my Years," "Winchester Trekthedral" and "Trektoe Through the Tulips" were all major duds, and Capitol was fast losing patience. Even the Paul Simon penned "Mrs. Trekinson" went nowhere, at warp speed.
Then, Nimoy and Shatner had an epiphany. People loved them, not their musical "ability." They would make an album featuring their voices only, without attempting any guitar strumming, piano tinkling or spoons. It worked. The resultant album, "Spaced Out," finally gave the Trektastic Twosome the smash hit Leonard always dreamed of. Making it even sweeter was that "Spaced Out" knocked the Beatles' "We Hate Spock" out of the Number One spot on the charts. Nimoy was, at last, redeemed, all those years after being bumped out of the Beatles. The record went on to win the Grammy for Best Part-Spoken-Word-Part-Vocal Performance By A Jewish Duo or Comedy Act.
Rumor has it that Nimoy's long delayed spoons-and-slide-guitar pet project, "Trek Sounds," will finally be released from the (tightly sealed) Capitol vaults. One can only hope. But for now, here's to Leonard Nimoy, who despite of (or perhaps because of) the Beatle boot, lived long and prospered.