The man featured on the album cover of Led Zeppelin’s beloved fourth LP has been identified after 52 years.
The bearded man, hunched over with a huge bundle of wood on his back is instantly recognisable to fans of the rock giants. However, his identity and the origin of the photo has remained a mystery, until now.
A print of the photo was bought in an antique shop by Zep frontman, Robert Plant, during the production of Led Zeppelin IV in 1971 and was eventually used in the album artwork.
Brian Edwards, a visiting research fellow at the University of the West of England, discovered the black and white original Victorian photograph in a photo album while he conducted research into the history of Wiltshire.
The photo album was titled “Reminiscences of a visit to Shaftesbury. Whitsuntide 1892. A present to Auntie from Ernest.”
The photo was labelled as “A Wiltshire thatcher,” with further research suggesting the man’s name is Lot Long (or Lot Longyear).
Long was born in Mere in 1823 and died in 1893. At the time the photo was taken, he was a widower living in a small cottage in the area.
The Victorian-era photograph album also contained over 100 architectural views and street scenes together with a few portraits of rural workers from Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset,
Brian Edwards said: “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.”
A part signature matching the writing in the album suggests the photographer is Ernest Howard Farmer (1856-1944), the first head of the School of Photography at the Polytechnic Regent Street, now part of the University of Westminster.
Released on November 8, 1971, Led Zeppelin IV has sold more than 37 million copies worldwide and carries the immortal ‘Stairway to Heaven.’