52 years later, we finally know the identity of the man on the iconic album cover.
After 52 years, we finally know the man's identity on the album cover of Led Zeppelin IV – a record that contains classics such as Rock & Roll, Black Dog, The Battle Of Evermore and Stairway To Heaven.
The album cover of a man hunched over with a bundle of wood on his back is not a painting, as often mistaken, but a photograph. According to historical reports, singer Robert Plant bought the print from an antique store near guitarist Jimmy Page’s home in Pangbourne, Berkshire.
On the album’s 52nd anniversary yesterday, we finally discovered the man's identity on the album cover. Brian Edwards, a researcher at the University of the West of England, told The Guardian that he came across the image in a photograph album for an exhibition he was curating with the Wiltshire Museum in 2021.
“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 [Jones],” Edwards said.
According to further research, the figure in the photo is believed to be Lot Long, who is sometimes referred to as Lot Longyear, a supposed widower at the time the photograph was taken. Long lived in a small cottage on Shaftesbury Road, Mere.
The photographer, Ernest Howard Farmer, captioned the photo: “A Wiltshire thatcher.”
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
The photograph is now featured at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, with the Director of the museum, David Dawson, telling The Guardian in their report:
Through the exhibition, 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.
In a 2014 revisit of Led Zeppelin IV, The Music reviewer Guido Farnell wrote that the album was a “game changer that put definition to the term hard rock and created a rule book that was to be ripped up and burned by the punks and post-punks a few short years later.”