I have always loved finding out the stories behind songs. I was researching a song the other day, and it led me to the question: “What are some of the rock bands influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien?”

The Tolkien Influence

Tolkien is one of my all-time favorite writers. I have read The Hobbit and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy repeatedly. I credit Tolkien as a huge influence on many fantasy and sci-fi fans today, including myself. Tolkien’s books have sold more than 600 million copies since the release of The Hobbit in 1937.

A lot of rock songs written in the ’70s and ’80s were influenced by books. Robert Plant and many other rock stars are avid readers… specifically of Tolkien. Along with a thousand death-metal band names, Tolkien has influenced the lyrical content of many rock songs.

Tolkien’s Books On The Big Screen

Huge thanks to Peter Jackson. Before his cinematic magic on this novel set, only The Hobbit cartoon (1977) and the awful Lord of the Rings animated film existed outside the books. I still remember watching The Hobbit cartoon in school and being offended at what they had done to the storyline. Peter Jackson became the first person to direct three major feature movies simultaneously when he made the Lord of The Rings movies.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Released December 19, 2001. There are many rock bands influenced by Tolkien and his novels.
New Line Home Video
Released December 19, 2001.

By The Same Tolkien – Musical Influences

Recently, I was looking up “Sugar Magnolia” from the Grateful Dead and found out a new-to-me nugget of knowledge. The song describes the character Goldberry in the novel, Fellowship of The Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The novel describes the character as “fair young Goldberry, sitting in the rushes.” The lyrics in “Sugar Magnolia” include “Rolling in the rushes down by the riverside.” There are more several comparisons that have been made in regard to the song lyrics and the Tolkien novels.

I knew of a couple of Led Zeppelin songs with references to Tolkien’s work so I started poking around for more rock bands influenced by Tolkien. These are my findings.

Rock Bands Influenced By Tolkien

  • Led Zeppelin

    Multiple Led Zeppelin songs have been attributed to the influence of Tolkien; the two songs that 100% reference Tolkien are “Ramble On” and “Misty Mountain Hop.” The lyrics of “Ramble On” include “the darkest depths of Mordor” and “Gollum and the evil one.” Robert Plant later admitted in interviews that he was embarrassed by his references to the Tolkien novels because they didn’t make a lot of sense. Gollum wouldn’t care about the fair maiden (not likely to be in Mordor). Gollum only cared for his ring, Precious.

    Misty Mountain Hop is a pretty obvious reference to the Misty Mountains being a part of the Tolkien stories and a real mountain range in Wales. If you would like to go further down a Hobbit hole on this, Reddit has plenty of threads and the internet discusses this topic at length.

    “Battle of Evermore” and “Over The Hills” have been mentioned for Tolkien influence as well, but the connection was refuted by the band in various interviews.

  • Black Sabbath

    “The Wizard” is one of my favorite Black Sabbath tunes and it turns the harmonica into a heavy metal weapon. Various sources have argued whether “The Wizard” was based on Gandalf from The Lord of The Rings series or after Black Sabbath’s drug dealer.

    Geezer Butler said in a 2005 Metal Sludge interview that the wizard is Gandalf. Enjoy this video of the two worlds fully colliding.



  • Pink Floyd

    “The Gnome” is a 1967 Syd Barrett Pink Floyd psychedelic track. It’s never been 100% confirmed that “The Gnome” is influenced by Tolkien’s novels, but it is definitely 2:14 of trippin’ Grimble Gromble b@lls. But Syd was out there for sure. (If you’re not familiar with the early stuff with Barrett, check out Piper at the Gates of Dawn

  • Rush

    The Professor was an avid reader. Neil Peart of Rush wrote a couple of songs that were heavily influenced by the works of Tolkien. “Rivendell” is the name of the magical Elvin city in Tolkien’s novels. It is also the name of a 1975 Rush song.

    A year later, Neil wrote “The Necromancer.” Necromancer was a nickname Gandalf gave to Sauron in The Hobbit. “The Necromancer” is split in three pieces, most like a nod to the trilogy of The Lord of The Rings. The song has also received the “Tolkien” treatment in this fan-made video. The song is dark and trippy and so is the movie footage in this video. 


  • BONUS: Leonard Nimoy

    Are you familiar with this little gem? WTH was going on in the ’60s? They certainly were camp masters.

    More than a million views of this lux production. The track was a part of the album, The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy. The vinyl is a collector’s item. I kid you not.

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