Moby Biography

Singer, Songwriter (1965–)
Moby is an American electronic singer-songwriter known for songs like "Go" and "Porcelain," and albums like Everything is Wrong and Play.


Born in New York City in 1965, Moby is an electronic singer-songwriter known for such popular songs as "Go," "Natural Blues" and "Porcelain," and albums like Everything is Wrong, Animal Rights and Play. He released his ninth studio album, Wait for Me, in 2013.

Early Life

Moby was born Richard Melville Hall on September 11, 1965, in Harlem, New York. However, his parents felt that such a grand name was unsuited for such a small, fragile child, and thusly decided to call him Moby, after the eponymous whale from Herman Melville's classic novel. In fact (and as suggested by his middle name), Herman Melville is actually Moby's great-great-great-great uncle. "I've tried to read the book several times," Moby has said of the legendary novel Moby Dick, "but I never quite got through it."

When Moby was born, his mother, Elizabeth McBride Warner-Hall, was a student, and his father, James Hall, was a young lecturer in the chemistry department at Columbia University. Theirs was a troubled marriage and, when Moby's father died in an alcohol-related car crash in 1967, some hypothesized that the accident was a suicide. Moby was just 2 years old when he lost his father. Soon after his father's death, Moby's mother, who was then only 23 years old, moved the family to Darien, Connecticut. There, Moby's maternal grandparents helped raise him while his mother finished her college degree.

With his mother and grandmother both working full-time, Moby was often left to his own devices. "I spent a lot of time by myself," he once said of his childhood, "and a lot of time was spent at my grandmother's house which was rambling and old and had big overgrown gardens, so there were a lot of places to get lost and entertain myself. I am grateful that as a little boy I had lots of strange and interesting places to play."

Musical Beginnings

Moby also developed a love of music from a young age, as was encouraged by his mother, an avid record collector and pianist. "She used to play me a lot of different stuff," Moby later said. "Some of it was very weird classical stuff, not the usual thing for a young child to listen to. But this became a huge influence on me when I was growing up." Moby began playing music himself at the age of 9, when he began classical guitar and music theory lessons. He attended Darien High School, where he and several friends formed a band called the Vatican Commandoes and released an EP, Hit Squad for God. Later in high school, he joined a new band, Awol.

Upon graduating from high school in 1983, Moby attended the University of Connecticut, where he studied philosophy. He dropped out after just one year, though, in order to pursue his budding music career full-time. Throughout the mid-1980s, Moby tried desperately to kick-start his music career. He worked at a record store in Darien, played in local bands like Caeli Soul and Gin Train, and started DJing for local nightclubs. It was as a DJ that Moby first began to achieve success, performing gigs at various nightclubs.

Commercial Success

In 1989, Moby moved to New York City and signed a contract with Instinct Records. He released his first single, "Mobility," in 1990 to limited acclaim. However, his second single, "Go," introduced Moby to mainstream audiences for the first time. The song quickly became a Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, sending Moby on his way to becoming a key figure in electronic and dance music.

In 1995, Moby released his first full-length techno album, Everything is Wrong, which was quickly deemed both a commercial and critical success. He followed in 1996 with a punk rock album, Animal Rights, and in 1997 with I Like to Score, a collection of his music featured in various films. Moby went on to garner worldwide fame with the release of his 1999 album, Play. The album, featuring the hit singles "Natural Blues" and "Porcelain," sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.

Moby followed Play with 18, another wildly successful album that sold more than 4 million copies across the globe. The electronic singer-songwriter has since released several more albums, including Hotel (2005), Last Night (2008), Wait For Me (2009), Destroyed (2011) and Wait for Me (2013).

Other Work

Outside of his music career, Moby is known for being very public about his deep Christian faith, which, he says, he discovered in the mid-1980s. "In about 1985 I read the teachings of Christ and was instantly struck by the idea that Christ was somehow divine," he once stated. "When I say I love Christ and love the teachings of Christ, I mean that in the most simple and naive way. I'm not saying I'm right."

Moby is also a dedicated vegan and animal rights activist, which, according to the musician, has brought him considerable scorn in the entertainment industry. "I run into a lot of people who are instantly filled with ridicule at the idea that someone wouldn't eat meat," he said. Moby has expressed his views on religion and animal rights through essays that he's included as inserts with his CDs.

Additionally, Moby is an outspoken advocate of Tibetan independence and an active volunteer for many nonprofit organizations, including MoveOn and the Humane Society.

Asked what he strives to achieve through his music, Moby says that he wants to make music that not only entertains, but performs a function. "Music can always serve a role in people's lives when it's emotional and warm and inviting and beautiful," he said. And while he does not fear the day when he is no longer a celebrity, Moby readily admits that he enjoys indulging in the spoils of fame. "I hope that when I find myself no longer a public figure, which could be in six months or two weeks or 10 years, or whenever, I can give it up gracefully and not be bitter," he said. "But for now, sometimes it's fun indulging in the pitfalls a little bit."

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