Who is this guy? Where did it come from? This question can be answered now. After 52 years, rock fans have some information about the man who appears on the cover of “Led Zeppelin IV”, from 1971. The album sold more than 35 million copies and features the classic “Stairway to Heaven” in its repertoire. Nothing was ever known about the little gentleman in question.
The original photograph, from the late Victorian period, was recently discovered in an album by researcher Brian Edwards. Now, it will be part of a new exhibition at the Wiltshire museum in England, which is expected to open next year.
Research indicates that the elderly man with a gray beard who with his hands grasps a staff that supports the bundle of sticks on his back may be Lot Long (1823-1893), also known as Lot Longyear, a craftsman who installed thatched roofs in the city of Mere, in south-west Wiltshire. He was a widower and lived in a small cottage on Shaftesbury Road.
The image was taken by photographer and photography teacher Ernest Howard Farmer (1856-1944), who at the time was trying to capture the spirit of the people, villages and landscapes of Wiltshire and Dorset, as well as the routine of farm workers.
“Led Zeppelin created the soundtrack that has accompanied me since I was a teenager, so I really hope that the discovery of this Victorian photograph pleases and entertains Robert, Jimmy and John Paul,” said Brian Edwards of the band members.
Interestingly, the members of Led Zeppelin themselves seemed to have little idea of the identity of the man on the cover. It was lead singer Robert Plant who discovered the image in an antiques shop near guitarist Jimmy Page’s home in Pangbourne, Berkshire, England. Until then, the origin was a mystery.