The worker on the cover of the legendary album Led Zeppelin IV has been identified as Lot Long, a widower from Mere, a market town in Wiltshire close to the borders of Somerset and Dorset.
The discovery of the original photo was made by Brian Edwards, who was working with the Regional History Centre at the University of the West of England.
Edwards discovered the photo in a Victorian photograph collection titled Reminiscences Of A Visit To Shaftesbury. Whitsuntide 1892. A Present To Auntie From Ernest. The album contained architectural images along with street scenes and workers from the three neighbouring counties.
“Led Zeppelin created the soundtrack that has accompanied me since my teenage years,” Edwards said, “so I really hope the discovery of this Victorian photograph pleases and entertains Robert, Jimmy and John Paul.”
The photographer had written “A Wiltshire thatcher” on the photo. Edwards then researched to discover the thatcher was Lot Long, born in Mere in 1823 and died in 1893. When the photo was taken, Lot was a widower living in a small cottage in Shaftesbury Road, Mere.
A partial signature suggests the photographer is Ernest Howard Farmer (1856-1944). Farmer’s photograph is now in Wiltshire Museum in Devizes.
Led Zeppelin IV, often referred to simply as Zoso or Four Symbols, is the band’s iconic fourth studio album. It features some of Led Zeppelin’s most well-known and enduring tracks, such as Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog, and Rock and Roll. The album’s cover art, devoid of any band name or album title, is equally iconic, featuring four symbols representing each band member.
Over the years, Led Zeppelin IV has achieved diamond certification and remains a cornerstone of classic rock, earning its place in the pantheon of legendary albums.
The photo is part of a new exhibition, The Wiltshire Thatcher – A Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex, which will be held from 6 April 2024 to 15 September 2024. For more details, visit the Wiltshire Museum website.