Wednesday, November 8, 2023

For Led Zeppelin Fans - Led Zeppelin IV's Mysterious Album Cover


Led Zeppelin's IV Album Cover to the left - close up of old man to right. The man in the famous album cover has been identified.

Victorian Thatcher's Identity Unveiled on Led Zeppelin's Iconic Album Cover

For over five decades, Led Zeppelin's fourth album, known as "Led Zeppelin IV," has captivated fans worldwide with its distinctive album cover featuring an enigmatic, grey-bearded figure carrying a bundle of sticks on his back. The origins of this iconic image had remained a mystery, but now, thanks to the efforts of a historian and Led Zeppelin enthusiast, the identity of the elderly Victorian thatcher has been revealed.

Led Zeppelin IV's Mysterious Cover

The album "Led Zeppelin IV," released on November 8, 1971, is one of Led Zeppelin's most celebrated works, featuring legendary tracks like "Stairway to Heaven." What made this album even more intriguing was its cover art, which notably lacked any band name or album title. Instead, it showcased a framed, coloured image of a stooped man carrying a bundle of hazel, often referred to as a painting, with a partly demolished suburban house on the back cover. The photograph was discovered by the band's lead singer, Robert Plant, in an antique shop near guitarist Jimmy Page's house in Pangbourne, Berkshire.

The Discovery

The man behind the mystery figure on the album cover has been identified as Lot Long, a Victorian thatcher from Wiltshire. The breakthrough came from the dedicated efforts of Brian Edwards, a visiting research fellow at the University of the West of England's regional history centre. Edwards stumbled upon the image in a photograph album while conducting research that extended from an exhibition he curated with the Wiltshire Museum in 2021.

Edwards's research sought to engage the public with Wiltshire's history by exploring everyday sources, including photographs. While following up on early photographs of Stonehenge, he unexpectedly uncovered the iconic image of the Wiltshire thatcher that had graced Led Zeppelin IV's cover.

"Led Zeppelin created the soundtrack that has accompanied me since my teenage years, so I really hope the discovery of this Victorian photograph pleases and entertains Robert, Jimmy, and John Paul," Edwards said, reflecting on his personal connection to the band and his excitement about the find.

Unveiling the Identity

The original image of the Wiltshire thatcher was discovered in a Victorian photograph album titled "Reminiscences of a visit to Shaftesbury. Whitsuntide 1892. A present to Auntie from Ernest." This album contained over 100 architectural views, street scenes, and portraits of rural workers from Wiltshire, Dorset, and Somerset. Beneath the stooped man's image, the photographer had written "A Wiltshire thatcher."

Further research revealed that the thatcher in the photograph was Lot Long (sometimes Longyear), who was born in Mere in 1823 and passed away in 1893. At the time the photograph was taken, Long was a widower living in a small cottage in Shaftesbury Road, Mere.

Additionally, a part-signature matching the writing in the album suggested that the photographer was Ernest Howard Farmer (1856-1944), the first head of the school of photography at what is now the University of Westminster.

Farmer's photograph is currently housed in the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, where an exhibition featuring this iconic image, along with others from the Victorian era, is scheduled to take place in spring 2024.

A Historical Connection

The discovery of Lot Long's identity has added an intriguing layer of history to Led Zeppelin's already legendary album cover. David Dawson, the director of Wiltshire Museum, noted how the forthcoming exhibition, "The 'Wiltshire Thatcher: a photographic journey through Victorian Wessex," would celebrate the work of Ernest Farmer. Farmer's photography, often capturing the spirit of rural life in Wiltshire and Dorset, provides a striking connection between the Victorian era and Led Zeppelin's iconic album cover, creating a bridge between the past and the present.

With the mystery finally solved, fans of Led Zeppelin can now appreciate the rich history behind the album cover that has become an enduring symbol of rock and roll.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Looming changes forecast for Tasman District Council's 10 Year Plan

  Changes looming for Tasman District Council's 10 Year Plan   5 May, 2024 Tasman District Council’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Drum...