The greatest thing about the Internet is that it has become a giant repository for all the weird/awesome things that time would have forgotten otherwise. If you can wade through all the cat memes and porn, you’ll find some genuinely amazing things – like this clip of William Shatner performing Elton John’s "Rocket Man" at the 1978 Saturn Awards. This classic performance has been floating around for ages, but on the Monday after 4/20, it seems particularly apropos to feature a video where Shatner intones “and I’m gonna be… HIGH” in the first 40 seconds.
Shatner’s musical stylings were well-documented by this point – the actor had already released an album of spoken-word interpretations of popular songs back in 1968 – but it’s the visuals for "Rocket Man" that make it so unforgettable.
The clip is opened with the song’s cowriter Bernie Taupin, introducing Shatner. We then cut to a smoking Captain Kirk recounting the tale of the Rocket Man. Things get really crazy when three Shatners share the screen at once, engaging in a surreal back and forth that you really have to see to believe. The third Shatner, who appears at the four-minute mark, is the best – he’s like a drunk Vegas lounge singer. Totally awesome.
The best part of Shatner’s entire musical oeuvre is that it’s never really been clear if he’s seriously performing these songs or not. It’s like an Andy Kaufman-esque piece of performance art where the audience never knows if they’re being punked or just watching someone turn in an awful, yet earnest, performance. What’s truly stunning about this clip is the amount of applause at the end…
Check out Shatner’s vocal stylings below, then realize this is just one more reason why Captain Kirk is superior to Picard in every way imaginable.