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."