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Moby Dick (song)

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Moby Dick
Appears on Led Zeppelin II
Published by Superhype Music
Registration ASCAP 430195103
Release date 22 October 1969
Recorded 4 - 6 May 1969 at
Mirror Sound, Los Angeles;
June 1969 at Mayfair Studios, New York.
Mixed at A&R Studios, New York.
Genre Hard rock, rock
Language English
Length 4 minutes 21 seconds
Composer John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page
Label Atlantic Records
Producer Jimmy Page
Engineer Chris Huston

'Moby Dick' is an instrumental tune and drum solo by English rock band Led Zeppelin, featured on their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II. It was also known by the alternate titles 'Pat's Delight' and 'Over the Top' during various points of the band's career.


The tune emerged after Jimmy Page would often catch Bonham jamming in the studio, recorded parts of it, and then pieced it all together. Only guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones play the tune's Drop-D blues-based riff with Bonham's drums—as a power trio—at the very beginning and the very end of the tune, leaving the remainder open for Bonham alone. Singer Robert Plant did not sing at all, and in concert would simply introduce Bonham to the audience before the tune started. Studio outtakes from the Led Zeppelin II sessions reveal that the drum solo recorded was edited down from a much longer version.[1]

The guitar riff can be traced back to the BBC unused session track 'The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair' which was recorded in the Summer of 1969.[2] Page's riff was used as the theme to BBC2's Disco 2 rock show.[3] Jimmy Page remixed 'Moby Dick' to flow seamlessly into 'Bonzo's Montreux' on the Led Zeppelin box set, released in 1990.

Live performances

Bonham's drum solo was often played at Led Zeppelin concerts from the first American tour in November 1968, being his solo performance showcase on concert tours through 1977. Over this period it went through three different name changes. During their early 1968-1969 tours it was known as 'Pat's Delight' (a reference to his wife), from 1969-1975 it was 'Moby Dick', and during Led Zeppelin's 1977 US Tour it was 'Over the Top' as the solo began with the opening riff to 'Out on the Tiles' before segueing into a lengthy drum solo (in the same time ending with a 'Moby Dick' riff).[4] The last time 'Moby Dick' was played by Led Zeppelin was on 17 July 1977 at the Seattle Kingdome, and can be found on various audio and video bootleg recordings.

When played live, Bonham's drum solo would last as little as six minutes or - more frequently - as long as twenty minutes, while the rest of the band would leave the stage after having played the introduction.[5] During the performance Bonham would often set aside or throw his drumsticks into the audience, and then continue the solo with his hands (sometimes drawing blood as a result); on occasion, the reason for continuing the solo with his hands were breaking his sticks due to ferocious playing.

Live versions of 'Moby Dick' are included on the live album How the West Was Won (lasting 19:20, performed at Long Beach Arena in 1972), and on Led Zeppelin's 1976 concert film, The Song Remains the Same as part of Bonham's fantasy sequence. It was also included on the motion picture's accompanying soundtrack. The Led Zeppelin DVD also has a fifteen-minute long version that was performed and recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970.

References in popular culture

An anti-littering campaign in the United States used the song for its theme music in the mid 1970s. The song was referenced in the films Dazed and Confused and Step Brothers. The song is often played by Fred Norris as an introductory music track for guests coming onto The Howard Stern Show.


  • Musicians:
    • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
    • John Paul Jones – bass guitar
    • John Bonham - drums, percussion
  • Production:
    • Peter Grant – executive producer
    • Chris Huston - engineer, mixing
    • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
    • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)


  1. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 35. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  2. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 35. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  3. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 35. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  4. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 35. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1. 
  5. Lewis, Dave (2012). Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press, 35. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1.