“Led Zeppelin IV” Man Now Identified
via Led Zeppelin Boots / YouTube
After 52 years since the release of Led Zeppelin IV, the long-standing mystery of the man on the album cover has been solved by a historian.
The iconic image of an elderly, bearded man carrying a load of wood was stumbled upon by Robert Plant in an antique store during the album’s production. The photograph was colorized and displayed on the wall of a partially demolished building for the cover shoot.
In 2021, University researcher Brian Edwards, while delving into the pictorial history of Wiltshire, discovered another print of the same picture. Through meticulous research, it was revealed that both prints shared matching handwriting, leading to the conclusion that the photograph was taken around 1892 by photography teacher Ernest Howard Farmer. The caption on the print, “A Wiltshire thatcher,” eventually helped identify the man in the picture as Lot Long, a widower residing in the town of Mere during that period.
‘Led Zeppelin IV’ Photo to Take Center Stage in Exhibition
Expressing his excitement, Edwards stated:
“Led Zeppelin created the soundtrack that has accompanied me since my teenage years. I really hope the discovery of this Victorian photograph pleases and entertains Robert, Jimmy and John Paul.”
The photograph is set to be featured in the upcoming exhibition titled The Wiltshire Thatcher: A Photographic Journey Through Victorian Wessex in 2024. Wiltshire Museum director David Dawson explained:
“[We] will show how Farmer captured the spirit of people, villages and landscapes of Wiltshire and Dorset that were so much of a contrast to his life in London. It is fascinating to see how this theme of rural and urban contrasts was developed by Led Zeppelin and became the focus for this iconic album cover 70 years later.”
Adding a layer to the story, it’s fascinating to see how a photograph taken over a century ago found its way into the hands of the rock legends of Led Zeppelin. The chance discovery by Plant in an antique store and its subsequent transformation into a timeless album cover speaks to the interconnectedness of art across different eras. The upcoming exhibition promises to not only showcase the historical roots of the photograph but also to explore the broader theme of how cultural influences travel through time, resonating with artists and enthusiasts alike.
As the identity of Lot Long is unveiled, the narrative surrounding the ‘Led Zeppelin IV’ cover takes on new depth, becoming a testament to the enduring power of visual storytelling and its ability to bridge the past and present.