Leonard Nimoy, who passed away this morning from a long battle with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was a king among nerds.
Where many actors maintain a strict delineation between the roles they portray on screen and their real world identities, Nimoy’s humanistic portrayal of the beloved, hyper-logical Mr. Spock transcended into his personal life as he became an icon to many generations of fans.
Nimoy explored his fraught, yet deep connection to his Vulcan alter-ego in two autobiographies, 1975’s I Am Not Spock, and 1995’s I Am Spock. He also explored it in two albums, 1967’s Music From Outer Space, which largely capitalized off the popularity of Star Trek, and 1968’s more personal follow-up, Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy. While the A-side continued on the Spock theme, the B-side sought to share Nimoy’s other interests, and featured covers of popular songs from Motown, folk, and country.
It also featured a standout original track that has become famous in the age of the internet: the delightfully campy nod to The Lord of the Rings, “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”. In the style of ’60s bubblegum pop, and backed by an entourage of dancing pixies, this titan of sci-fi paid his respects to a hairy-footed hero of fantasy. The result is jubilant and weird and hilarious and endearing–a fine way to pay your respects to our Ambassador-at-Large. He lived long and prospered.