Moby Dick

Album: Led Zeppelin II (1969)


  • This was Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's showcase song on early tours. His solo would last up to 20 minutes, while the rest of the band would leave the stage to grab a smoke. Bonham sometimes drew blood performing this from beating his hands on his snare and tom toms.
  • This is an instrumental song. According to Bonham's wife Pat, the song is named Moby Dick because his son asked him to play "the long song." When John asked why, the boy answered, "It's big like Moby." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jay the Jet - St Paul, MN
  • This evolved out of a drum solo Bonham would play called "Pat's Delight," which was named after his wife. Jimmy Page would often catch Bonham jamming in the studio, and recorded parts of it, then pieced it all together.
  • Jimmy Page remixed this to flow seamlessly into "Bonzo's Montreux" on the Led Zeppelin boxed set.
  • The name of Bonham's drum solo was later changed to "Over The Top" for the 1977 US tour. It used the "Out On The Tiles" riff as an intro instead. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Whitesboro, NY
  • Page added a guitar riff to the mix, which came from "The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair," a song Led Zeppelin recorded live for the BBC in the Spring of 1969. It appears on the BBC Sessions album. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Led Zeppelin often borrowed from American blues recordings, and the guitar riff in this song bears a strong resemblance to the 1961 Bobby Parker song "Watch Your Step." Led Zeppelin has faced criticism for using parts of obscure folk and blues songs and passing them off as their own, but it should be noted that riffs cannot be copyrighted, and many famous musicians have borrowed in a similar fashion. A notable example is The Beatles "I Feel Fine," which was also influenced by Parker's "Watch Your Step."
  • An anti-littering campaign in the United States used this for its theme music in the mid '70s. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ken - Ann Arbor, MI
  • The Led Zeppelin reggae tribute band Dread Zeppelin recorded this with their Elvis impersonator, Tortelvis, reading passages of the book Moby Dick throughout the song. Their rendition can be found on their 1990 album Un-Led-Ed.

Comments: 91

  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaI have to chime in on the Bonzo-Peart debate. Neil Peart is not my thing but I am willing to stipulate that he seems to be a fine technical drummer. HOWEVER, nobody.... not Peart, not Keith Moon, not (insert drummer of choice here)... has ever had the sheer power and brute force of John Bonham. Nobody did it like him, not before his death or since. And, to be clear, I am not a particularly big Zeppelin fan. I just happen to think that John Bonham was pretty darn amazing.
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaHoward Stern... actually Fred Norris does the sound effects... plays this song as a bumper whenever a guest enters the studio for an interview. It started as a goof on Al Roker (who, of course, was as big as a whale for a long time), but became a standard for all guests.
  • Damien from HawaiiMore wood for the fire. Led Zeppelin is definitely one of the greatest bands ever. Bonham is one of the greatest drummers ever, but... I don"t believe Bonham wrote all of Moby Dick. It sounds like the drum solo Art Blakey plays in "The Duel" with Jimmy Smith, album "Jimmy Smith at the Organ- Volume 2, 1957". Bonzo definitely lengthened, added, and embellished on the original, but the tempo, rhythm and even the "heavy & light" texture of the song are in the original by Art Blakey.
  • Chase from Miami, Fluuuhhh yeah, iron Maiden drummer uses a double bass pedal. this song is in drop-d tuning.
    page used more insane tunigs though, dont worry
  • Tyler from Apple Valley,Some drum solos like this are underrated. I love the live versions of this song! Bonzo ROCKS!
  • Garrett from Pittsburgh, PaOn "How the West was Won" this song runs over 19 minutes!
  • Martin from Thundey Bay, Ona guy says they would grab a smoke, actyually it was a beer and on some dvd's, you can see them bring out a beer for bonhams and he drinks it
  • Nate from Provo, Utbonhams is a better drumer but neil is a innovator. Go mormans!
  • The Rev Jr from New York ,Neil peart is better and more fun to listen to in my opinion. Arguably the best rock drummer ever. and when it comes to how fast a drummer's foot is with one bass drum pedal, no one can touch nicko mcbrain from iron maiden. m/
  • Ben from Nashvegas, TnPage recycled a riff he used on the Yarbird's "I'm Not Talking" in Moby Dick.
  • Mike from Long Island, Nyi heard it was called moby dick because he "whales" on the drums
  • Dean from Sydney,I'm a drummer and of course Bonham is my all time idol. But the riff is as brilliant as the solo. The riff almost demands a solo. It was the magical combination of four genuine musicians which made Led Zep...
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiAbout Zep using Out on The Tiles's intro often while live, they did perform it live once or twice in full, I believe. Speaking of which, where is the Songfacts page for "The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair", which sounds so much like this one?
  • Eric from Mcallen, TxJohn Bonham was the best drummer ever.
  • Allie from A Little Ol' Town In, MiWhy is everyone bashing Peart. They are both gods at their work and both have a different style of playing. I LOVE 'EM BOTH. What we all need is a good dose of peace!!!!!!!!:-)
  • Allie from A Little Ol' Town In, MiTHIs is the best drum solo in rock history! I LOVE BONZO TO DEATH.:)
  • Timmy from Boulder, CoBonham=god. No one can touch bonzo. Greatest of all time. No question.
    Tim Boulder(lets get lit), CO
  • Ni from Mechanicsburg, PaThank you Dane
  • Dane from G-field, Nhi read this comment and HAD to register just to dispute, "Ok people here's the deal. This solo isnt that great! If you want good drums listen to Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa. I mean honestly this isnt that great! I could do this (knowing from experience)." Bonham's two biggest drumming influences were Gene and rich. And just because you can play it doesn't mean it's bad. Music isn't about how hard it is. It sounds great, and i doubt you can come up with anything better. Zeppelin is the best.
  • Bill from Topeka, Ksgood song nice drums
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiJohn Bonham posted here? How? He-He's a ghost now?
  • Bill from Topeka, Ksit is named moby dick because bonhams song called it th elong son like the whale "moby dick"
  • Q from Srh, AlDan, your completly right, the deaths of John Bonham and Keith Moon in '80 was the final blow that killed rock 'n' roll.
  • Dan from Detroit, Miapart of music died in 1980 along with the legend
  • Q from Srh, AlBonham is the best rock drummer to ever live. He always wanted to use a double bass kick, but the band wouldnt let because they were drowned out by his drumming. Bonham 1, Keith Moon 2, Ginger Baker 3.
  • Jacob Huffman from Rancho Cucamonga, CaAWESOME song Bonham is one of the best in the world, it is AWESOME:-)
  • Dylan from Olmsted Falls, United StatesBonham was and will always be the best. RIP Bonzo, gone but NOT forgotten.
  • Wilson from Atlanta, GaThis is how I put it: John Bonham 1st, Keith Moon 2nd, and Neil Peart 3rd
  • John Bonham from Worcestershire, Englandnone of you guys need to be comparing me and neil. we were good friends and are both great drummers. im just alittle better...
  • Paul from Muskegon, MsJohn Bonham is alot better than Neil Peart. He is much more powerful and faster. Just because Neil has a 60 piece set doesn't mean he is that good. Believe me, size doesn't matter. Performance does. Neil needed a doudle-kicker set in order to compare to Bonham's legendary right kicker foot. Bonham also drew blood at some Moby Dick performances, especially 1977. Excellent drummer.
  • Emmie from Long Island, NyYikes...Peart and Bonham are just different drummers. I prefer Bonham, but that's just me. Pat's Delight, Moby Dick, Over the Top, and Bonzo's Montreaux are some of the greatest drum performances of all time (even though the first 3 are all variations of each other).
  • Ed from Ottawa, CanadaDon't get me wrong John Bonham is an ausome drummer...but Neil Peart wasn't palying to the same tune. Zeppelin defined Rock music. Peart and his Rush counterparts were trying to progress rock and create something else. The technical style is a part of it. Bonham destroys Peart at rock, cus that just the soul of Led Zeppelin and I don't know how else ot put it, but I really think you guys should respect Peart more...he's just great. Besides Bonham's solos may be improvised, but he never had to do a xylophone solo.
  • Sam from Sacramento, Cabonham and peart are my idols and i think that they are almost exact. but, john did improvise on this song, and neil wrote his solos out. so, bonham is beter than him on that note, but i think neil is quicker. so they are about even.
  • Tom from East Lyme, Ctwow, Zeppelin really likes the intro to "Out on the tiles", they used it for Black Dog live too, but yet I've never heard them preform the whole thing live
  • Tom from East Lyme, NOT go knocking Peart, I think I explained this earlier, Led Zeppelin is my favorite band, Rush second, but the two can not be compared, LEd Zeppelin is an improvision band, Rush is planned out on every note, Peart is an amazingly talented drummer, the only reason I like Bonham more is because it takes most drummers (including Peart) two bass pedals to do what Bonzo can do with one
  • J from Detroit, MiPeart plays with no soul, no feel. He is unmusical. If you want to play like a souless studio drummer listen to Rush. Peart should not even be mentioned on the same page as the drummer that is the subject of this thread. Led Zeppelin had the greatest drummer that ever lived Period. By the way, it takes a lot more talent to make a drumset sound musical than a guitar. Also, Buddy Rich was not a creative drummer, only a rhythmic perfectionist. He doesn't compare in terms of overall musical impact. Krupa wasn't even as good as Rich so forget it pal.
  • J from West Orange, Nj... John Bonham is the best drummer of all time and Peart can not compare to him no matter where peart's arms move he has something to hit either a cymbal or a drum when you see bonham with 5 drums and 3 cymbals and can make it sound like more you have somethin to think about.....
  • Sean from Colorado Springs, CoI dont really care who the best is.. there's only one Bonzo in my eyes. One more thing.. "How The West Was Won." Its been mentioned... wow. No words can truly describe it. 20 minutes of drum improv insanity.. that comes close.. I guess ill just stick with 'Moby Dick.' ;)
  • Mark from Ann Arbor, MoI love the fact that drummers like bonzo yell on stage, every good drummer should looks so funny!
  • Tom from East Lyme, Ctthis song is awesome, and being a drummer my self, i love it even more, and for all of those people saying Peart is better listen to this: You cant compare John Bonham and Neil Peart, they're two compleatley different types of drummers. John Bonham is a hit-em-hard rocker drummer while Neil Peart is a musical drummer. For example (i know im getting boring) Moby dick is all improvised, Der Trommeir (the Rush drum solo on R:30) is planned out every note, do Neil is better than John AND John is better than Neil
  • Spence from Smithfield, VaYeah, one of the best drummers in the world in my opinion. The version of this on the DVD is incredilbe!!! Every drummer's dream is to be able to do stuff like that and put the "umph" in the way Bonzo did!
  • David from Orlando, FlNot sure if someone else mentioned this, but if you want an idea of how this song would have sounded with vocals, listen to "The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair" from BBC Sessions.
  • Chris from Whitesboro, NyI reccommend a bootleg from the LA Forum in 1977 called Jimmy Page's Badgeholders Club Band. During the concert, Keith Moon is invited up on stage and shares the Moby Dick solo with Bonzo. He also tries his hand at Plant's position as well, which is quite humorous.
  • John from Kalgoorlie, AustraliaThis song live's about 20 minutes long. I can't drum, I'd get tired in the first 2. Nothing compares to John Bonham's drumming.
  • Dale from Muskegon, MiJohn Bonham is the best drummer who ever lived. Even drummers like Keith Moon and Neil Peart can't even come close. At some Led Zeppelin concerts while Bonzo is playing Moby Dick, his hands would start bteeding from the force and movement of playing so hard and long. He would play the drum solo for as long as 30 minutes. Bonham was the fastest, most powerful drummer who ever lived. His Ludwig drumsets and Paiste cymbals were kick-ass. One of his sets is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScCool song! Still like songs with Plant's vocals better, but this is a great one!
  • Shawn from Buffalo, NyI think that he is the only drummer that can compare to Neil pert Neil may be a little bit better, but they are damn close.
  • Sean from Boston, Majohn bonham is the greatist drummer of all time. period. thats not an opinion, its a fact. moby dick was just as monsterous as john was, that solo is amazing. Usually drummers are the only ones that can truly appreciate this song. John Bonham is my god.
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Cai like listening to whole albums and when i listen to how the west is won its a little harsh...its a great song though! i just can't always handle a full 20 minutes of drumming...i understand that it is great and i there are times that its the best thing to listen to in the whole world...i just can't always handle it. i kinda like the four minute one better.
  • Dan from Lee, NhThis and Ginger's Toad are the two best drum solos I have ever heard. I love the riff and the version of this on How The West Was Won is truly fantastical.
  • Danny from Sydney, AustraliaYou can't call any drummer in the world better than John Bonham. Neil Peart might be great, but he was in no way as revolutionary, innovative and great as John Bonham. The guitar part definately reminds me of a giant whale charging through the ocean. Zeppelin rule.
  • Taylor from Pittsburgh, PaI would have to agree with that I think that this song is amazing. But if you listening to YYZ its a better solo and Neil Peart, in my eyes, is a better drummer.
  • Steven from Keswick, Canadain my opinion the song YYZ by Rush on the album exit stage left, has the best drum solo ever made! i also think that Neil Peart..the drummer of Rush, is the best drummer.
  • Mike from Harrison, Nyok bonham, greatest drummer ever
  • Dylan from Ottawa, CanadaI would like to withdraw my previous statement about how this solo wasnt that great. I've been listening to a great deal of Led Zeppelin lately (in fact im listening to some right now) and I've noticed that John Bonham is infact a very good drummer as rock drummers go. I also have watched to live version of moby dick and have a lot more respect for it.
  • Justin from Chicago, IlIs it just me, or is Plant's lyrics really deep in this song especially? YEAH IT'S JUST ME....
  • Matt H. from Niantic, CtAcually Bonzo didn't just sit down and prefom the whole srum solo out for the studio version''Jimmy Page was recording while John Bonham was fooling around on the drumset various times and peaced them all together'I learned this from "A Thunder of Drum" it's a biography of John Bonham'If anyone cares for him at all you will buy this book it is awesome!!!!!
  • Jay The Jet from St.paul, MnFirst off i love ledzepplin they are a supergroup think about it they are the best of the best, moby dick is my favorite solo of a ll time being a drummer myself i can appreciate the amount of talent he had it is a great solo its fast and its origanal right? no acually it was big band drummers lik jean koopa who started the $h!t and the had plying, man he was so doped up he couldnt even feel his hands. It is a great solo and he was an awsome drummer and if you dont like the song dont wast your enrgy pissing and moning about it!!
  • Stewart from San Fransisco, CaJust becuase something is hard to do does not make it fun to listen to. You can only do so much with a drum set and 20 minutes is way overboard. The part of the song with the whole band however is one of my favorite Zeppelin songs. Plus as good as Bonham is Moon is just as impressive without needing 20 minutes to show off.
  • Mike from Alpharetta, GaAll I have to say is John Bonham is my favorite drummer of all time.I agree this is probably the greatest drum solo I've ever lived to experience.I don't know If people realize what he'd doing during his solo.Those triplets are unbelievable and I have yet to hear any drummer out there do what he did on that bass drum.I'm workin on it and almost got it but not nearly as close as he had it.I love the loudness of it all.Pure drums with no mufflers or anything.Just pure drums, the way I like it.Oh and by the way, Bonham was influenced by Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa so whoever said that about Bonzo's solo can stick it.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI like the song and think it's great, but one of my favorite things about Led Zeppelin is Plant's vocals, so it's not my favorite led zep song.
  • David Corino from Hawley, PaThis is a great solo. Much better live. Every time I listen to it, you know their is a god, and it is Mr.John Henry Bonham!
  • Nick from Baton Rouge, Lathe solo is great, and i love zeppelin to death, but im not as much into acoustics (bonham) as i am into vocals (plant) so this song tends to bore me
  • Nick from Richmond Hill, CanadaPS- to everyone who doesn't get why a drum solo is so great, you have to look beyond the flashiness. Look into the sheer rythm of it. That's how you can stand to live through this monster.
  • Nick from Richmond Hill, CanadaBonzo was the greatest drummer most anyone has ever seen. This song "was" his showcase, but it still is. This kind of drumming can't be seen anywhere now. RIP Bonzo, keep rocking just as hard as at Royal Albert Hall up there in rock heaven.
  • Murray from Shellharbour, Australiai agree with adrian from wilmington when he sez the version from 1970 or so at royal albert hall on the Led zeppelin DVD is absolutely of the most insane things ive ever seen. you would never see a drummer doing a 20 min drum solo these days.....RIP Bonzo. greatest drummer that ever lived.
  • Tim from Milestone, CanadaDylan from Ottawa you shut your filthy mouth right now. this is one of the greatest drum solo's of all time, played by one of the greatest drummers and bands of all time, if you think differently that your opinion but to me it just shows how little your know about rock in general.
  • Dylan from Ottawa, CanadaOk people here's the deal. This solo isnt that great! If you want good drums listen to Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa. I mean honestly this isnt that great! I could do this (knowing from experience).
  • Jane from New York City, NyThis is such a great song, and the drum solo is amazing, its such a good song to chill out and listen to it gets you in a great mood
  • Ryan from Ashland, Orits hard to belive the version on "The Song Remains the Same" is cut short by about 13 minutes. bonzo is the greatest drummer of all time. i recomend everyone to but "How The West Was Won" and the new dvd
  • Big Mike from Merrillville, InJohn Bonham used to line the inside of his 26" Ludwig bass drum with aluminum foil. This helped Mr. Bonham acheive the "booming" sound that he wanted. Also, Keith Moon found it difficult to play Bonham's set-up because of the extreme tension Bonham had set on his bass drum pedal. This threw Moon's timing a bit off. As strong as Moon was, he was no match for the big John Bonham.
  • Ryan from Los Angeles, Caplaying with your hands is tough. it takes practice to hit it right and for your hands to harden. its hard for me cuz i have an electric kit so i can play without annoying the neighbors but i play on an acoustic set at school.
  • Ryan from Los Angeles, Cai know why the song is called moby dick. While the band was rehearsing one night, they tried to get a prostitute to give Bonzo oral sex while he played his solo. The word Moby means huge or gigantic and you all know what dick means. They gave the song that title as a joke. But this song is way more than a joke.
  • Ian from New York, NyMy band once tried to cover this. I'm the drumer and i got blisters from playing this. Man it's fun to play though.
  • Nathan from Brisbane, AustraliaI wanna know how he remembers a 14 minute solo. Bonhams a bloody legend. RIP
  • Adrian from Wilmington, DeNothing beats The Royal Albert Hall performance of this on the Led Zeppelin DVD. Bonzo is GOD!
  • Keewa from Fairbanks, Alhe used to go on for in excess of 30 minutes, towards the close i'm sure he shouts to a roadie or something to fetch the rest of the guys back on!
  • Bryan from Philadelphia, PaBonzo is definitely the best drummer of all time. Period.
  • Bryan from Philadelphia, PaI'm a drummer and every time I listen to this I get inspired.
  • Tom from K-town, NjJohn Bonham is the most insane drummer ever...keith moon was great...but bonham is super great. its awesome to hear the corwd go wild wen he drops his sticks and starts playing with his hands...simpley bootiful....RIP Bonzo.
  • Sal from Ny, Nyi love the begining guitar part, good use of the blues scale! and it's a really cool drum solo too, but i would've liked it more if it was a guitar solo, or like at leaste a little bit, cause drum solos only take half the imagination! but it is a cool solo, and this is one of my favorites
  • Danny from Deerfield, IlI read in an article about Led Zeppelin that Page, Plant, and Jones would go back to their hotel rooms with groupies and have parties during the drum solo.
  • Charlie from Thomaston, Dci think its called moby dick because it just has a roundabout kinda jumpy theme that reminds you of traditional stuff like moby dick
  • Will from Portland, OrThis song sounds so awesome live. Every Zeppelin fan should go out and buy "How the West was Won"
  • John from West Covina, CaThis truly is an awesome song and one the best Led Zeppelin songs.
  • Mike from Oliver, Canadapure beauty! zeppelin definently rocks hard!
  • Jens from LinkÅ¡ping, SwedenBonham is the best, Plant is the best, Page is the best, Jones is the best. Led Zeppelin is the best !
  • Pete from Corpus Christi, TxJohn Bonham at his BEST can't get enough of the sound blasting on my bose speakers....
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WaI think it's called Moby Dick because this is John Bonham "whaling" on the drums for 4½ minutes. Just my opinion :-)
  • Derek from Raleigh, NcI still don't get why it's called "moby dick"
  • Jon from Mountain Home, IdI can believe that drawing blood part, the version I have he does his solo for about 14 minutes. and I could just imagine Jimmy Page came on stage and told them "okay, be sure to come back tomorrow night for the rest of the concert, now we have to drag our drummer off the stage."
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