Moby Dick (song)

'Moby Dick' is a 1969 instrumental song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by John Bonham, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones, and recorded at Mirror Sound Studios, Los Angeles in May 1969; Mayfair Recording Studios, New York in June 1969, and mixed at A & R Studios, New York, in August 1969. It appeared as the eighth track on Led Zeppelin's second album Led Zeppelin II, released on 22 October 1969. 'Moby Dick' is a percussion instrumental which served as a showcase for drummer John Bonham's talents. Concise on record at four minutes twenty-one seconds, the instrumental performed live with improvisation could last as long as twenty-five minutes. 'Moby Dick' was an evolution of Bonham's original instrumental for Led Zeppelin entitled 'Pat's Delight', named after Bonham's wife, and involved percussive audio effects, a gong, timpani, drumsticks, and using his hands on the drum kit itself.


'Moby Dick' is a song that was recorded in three parts - the introduction and ending involving most of the band, was recorded at Mirror Sound, the drum solo was recorded at Mayfair Studios and was edited down from a much longer solo, and then pieced together by producer Jimmy Page and engineer Chris Huston. The song was influenced by a previous unused recording for BBC Radio entitled 'The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair', which later resurfaced on the 1997 BBC Sessions album. The title was dubbed 'Moby Dick' by John Bonham's son Jason Bonham, who referred to it as being 'big like Moby Dick'. The instrumental later formed part of the theme song for BBC's Disco 2 music television programme. An early performance of 'Moby Dick' can be seen on 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall on 9 January 1970. In 1975, Bonham began using electronic effects on his drums, throwing in riffs from 'Whole Lotta Love' into his playing. 'Moby Dick' also formed part of the John Bonham fantasy sequence in the 1976 film The Song Remains the Same.

Live performances

First performed as 'Moby Dick' on the 1969 winter tour of North America, it was played on every tour, with some exceptions. It was usually performed near the end of the show and gave the other band members a break before they returned to the stage. During the 1977 North American tour, the song was incorporated into a version of 'Out on the Tiles', renamed 'Over the Top', and was last played live by Bonham at the Seattle Kingdome on 17 July 1977. It was not played on any of the post-1980 reunion shows but in 2010 and 2011, Jason Bonham performed the song as a duet with his father on a video screen, as part of the Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience tribute show.

Moby Dick Italian single front cover

Formats and track listings

1970 7" single edition (Italy: Atlantic ATL NP 03183, Singapore: Stereophonic 03183)

  • A. 'Moby Dick' (Bonham, Page, Jones) 2.39
  • B. 'Gallows Pole' (trad. arr. Page, Plant) 4.56



  • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
  • John Paul Jones – bass guitar
  • John Bonham - drums, percussion


  • Peter Grant – executive producer
  • Chris Huston - engineer, mixing
  • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
  • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)


  • Lewis, Dave (2012) Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1 (OCLC 782996334).
  • Welch, Chris (2009) Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9 (OCLC 317254118).

External links

  • 'Moby Dick' (Royal Albert Hall, 1970) at


  • APRA: GW02129452
  • ASCAP: 430195103
  • GEMA: 570096-001
  • ISWC: T-070.112.742-5
  • US Copyright Office: EU0000144290

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