Long before he blasted into the stars for real, the Star Trek star started strumming at the Nashville Film Festival
What can you give a man who already has a couple of Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, and even two Golden Raspberries? Well, long before Jeff Bezos gave him a ride among the stars, the clever folks at the Nashville Film Festival honored William Shatner with a special Impact Award — and a customized acoustic guitar constructed by the Gibson Guitar Corp. and painted by artist Mandy Lawson.
The latter prize certainly made an impact on Shatner when he received the one-of-a-kind instrument at the 2009 Nashville Fest before the world premiere screening of Patrick Buckley’s exceptional documentary William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet.
“When I was a young stage actor out on tour,” Shatner recalled, “I used to bring along a printout with me, to try to learn the fingering so I could play the guitar. But I never mastered it. And even later on, I never had the time -- never took the time -- to learn how to play. But let me tell you -- now I make the time.”
Shatner looked so unabashedly pleased with his prize that I couldn’t resist offering him a fist bump and two words of encouragement: “Rock on!” He exuberantly bumped back, smiled brightly and replied: “Yeah, I'll rock on.”
By the way: The documentary, which currently is available for sale or purchase on several platforms, focuses on the efforts of famed choreographer Margo Sappington to create a ballet inspired by spoken-word songs from the ironically titled Has Been, the acclaimed collaboration by Shatner and musician-producer Ben Folds. There's a distinctly autobiographical air to these songs -- like “It Hasn't Happened Yet,” performed by Shatner in the clip below -- and an unexpected poignancy to the film itself.
And it’s obvious after today that Shatner took my advice: At age 90, he continues to rock — and rocket — along.