One Genre To Rule Them All – Classic Rock And J.R.R. Tolkien

It is no secret that rock musicians have many times drawn from fantasy, mythology, and history. Therefore, there’s no wonder that many of the highly acclaimed and popular classic rock British bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s were tremendously inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, in particular ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy that followed it.

A Hobbit household from Hobbiton filmset in New Zealand where Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films were shot. Image source: www.unsplash.com

In turn, Tolkien’s legendarium was an inspirational meddle, with the author collecting and assimilating hundreds of legends from the folklores and mythologies of many peoples and countries, including most notably those of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Germanic peoples (such as the Anglo-Saxons, Norsemen, Lombards, or Goths), Celts and Finns.

Below we present a list of 10 different classic rock songs by some of the most well known songs inspired by and dealing with Tolkien’s literary universe, songs composed and performed by several British rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s. We hope you’ll enjoy it!

10. Pink Floyd – The Gnome


Off of Pink Floyd’s debut album, ‘The Piper At The Gates of Dawn’ (which in turn is a reference to another fantasy book, but that’s another story), ‘The Gnome’ is a song with a profound Tolkinesque atmosphere, in both instrumental and lyrical regards.

9. Black Sabbath – The Wizard


‘The Wizard’ is the second track that appears on Black Sabbath’s eponymous 1970 album. The lyrics were written by Geezer Butler who was at the time reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

8. Rush – Rivendell


Named after the namesake legendary fortified city of the Elves, ‘Rivendell’ is one of the songs that features on Rush’s ‘Fly by Night’ album released in 1975. The composition describes a tranquil, lush, and green Elven landscape full of magic and calm, where timekeeping is disregarded.

7. Caravan – In the Land of Grey and Pink


Cantebury-based Caravan released the studio album ‘In the Land of Grey and Pink’ in 1971. The title song bears several allusions to a Tolkinish environment, a faraway land of peace and pleasure more precise. The cover artwork of the LP is also quite suggestive in the respect according to which it was inspired by the Shire, the realm of the Hobbits.

6. Led Zeppelin – The Battle of Evermore


‘The Battle of Evermore’ is one of the most exquisite and uplifting songs on the band’s fourth studio album from . The song references the One Ring, the Dragon Smaug (i.e. the ‘Dragon of Darkness’) as well as the universal fight between good and evil along with a clash of their armies and an eternal siege of a castle.

5. Bo Hansson – The Black Riders


Progressive rock Swedish artist and multi-instrumentalist Bo Hansson released the studio album ‘Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings’ in 1970 (originally issued as ‘Sagan om ringen’ in his native Sweden). The 4th track on the LP, ‘The Black Riders & Flight to the Ford’ is a direct reference to the Ringwraiths, the cursed servant ghostly kings of Sauron.

4. Sally Oldfield – Nenya


Irish singer-songwriter (who had collaborated with Mike Oldfield and Steve Hackett) released her debut solo album ‘Water Bearer’ in 1978. On the first side of the album, as part of the larger suite ‘Songs of the Quendi’, there is a part called Nenya which mentions ‘three rings for the Elven kings’.

3. Camel – Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider


The epic, long, and spacey progressive rock tune ‘Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider’ represents Camel’s tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, immersing the listener into a musical universe full of synths and fantastic guitar solos.

2. Uriah Heep – The Wizard


‘The Wizard’ is probably one of the most mesmerizing rock songs of all time. Written as a homage to the mighty white wizard Gandalf, the song is opening track of the band’s 1972 ‘Demons and Wizards’ studio album.

1. Argent – Lothlorien


Argent were an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1969. On their second studio album called ‘Ring of Hands’ the 4th track on side one is called Lothlorien, after the legendary realm of the Elves.

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