Since their publication in the 1930’s J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings cycle, have been inspiring people with the mythical tales of the people of Middle-earth and the struggle between the forces of good and evil. During the psychedelic ‘60s the books became extremely popular in the rock underground and no shortage of bands paid homage to the series in lyrics, song titles and band names. Legendary hard rockers Led Zeppelin practically made a career out of referencing them, both figuratively and often literally. Their heavy metal progeny picked up the helm and to this day many metal bands are named after figures and places in the book including such current black metal bands as Darkthrone and Gorgoroth among others. The latest movie installment, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, opens today so in honor we’re taking a look at some of the greatest references to the series in classic hard rock. So pack your pipe, don your magical cloak and spend some time with these Middle-earth anthems to get in the mood for the film.
Led Zeppelin “Ramble On” (1969)
The first implicit nod to the books from avowed Tolkien fanatic Robert Plant finds a nobler rambler, perhaps The Strider, cursing Gollum for stealing his lady and taking her off to the dark realm of Morder.
Gandalf “Golden Earrings” (1969)
These psych rockers paid homage to The Hobbit’s famed wizard in name before disappearing into the Valinor of rock obscurity.
Black Sabbath “The Wizard” (1970)
Bassist Geezer Butler was another early fan of the books and has said this song off their debut was inspired by the book’s famed wizard Gandalf.
Argent “Lothlorien” (1971)
‘70s rockers Argent named this song after the Elves forest stronghold and home of Galadriel, whome Tolkien describes as “greatest of elven women.”
Led Zeppelin “The Battle Of Evermore” (1971)
One of Zeppelin’s most literal homages to the book series, this haunting Celtic folk epic describes an epic clash between the forces of good and evil.
Led Zeppelin “Misty Mountain Hop” (1971)
Though more of a hippie anthem than a flight into fantasy, this song still name-checks the famed mountain range where Gollum hid and stone giants roamed.
Rush “Rivendell” (1975)
In their early years these Canadian rockers were Zeppelin disciples and as such named a song after another of the Elves forest kingdoms.
Rush “The Necromancer” (1975)
Though the plot of this song goes off script from the books, The Necromancer is one of the many names for the series infamous villain Sauron.
Styx “Lords Of The Ring” (1978)
These mid-western kings of late ‘70s radio rock also drank deep from the Zeppelin cup early on and recorded this tribute to the books on their breakthrough album Pieces of Eight.
Cirith Ungol “King Of The Dead”(1984)
This cult L.A. metal band were influential beyond their record sales and named themselves after the pass which is home to the fearsome giant spider Shelob.