4 days on from the anniversary of its release, the identity of the man on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s IV was revealed recently by a rural English history researcher.
Lot Long was his name, and he was a roof thatcher born in 1823, and died a widower in 1893, years after getting his picture taken by the first head of the School of Photography at the University of Westminster.
Brian Edwards, a researcher from the University of West England was flipping through antique photo collections as part of a project when he came across one of a bearded man stooping over the weight of a burden of sticks slung over his back.
“I instantly recognized the man with the sticks—he’s often called the stick man,” Mr. Edwards told the BBC. “It was quite a revelation.”
The late Victorian Era color photograph was labeled “The Wiltshire Thatcher,” and Edwards says it’s an authentic original.
“Part of (Farmer’s) signatures matches some of the handwriting in the album,” Mr. Edwards said. “The black and white photograph has a thumbprint in the corner. It looks like it’s the original.”
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IV went on to become one of the most successful selling albums of all time, led by the iconic (and some say stolen) Stairway to Heaven. ABC News AU, reporting on the discovery, says that the selection of the photo was part of a scheme to deliberately play down the album, with Robert Plant finding the image of the Stickman in a shop in Reading, and pairing it to a scene of urban decay without any words.
The Wiltshire Museum, which obtained the photograph, now plans to showcase it next year as part of an exhibition called The Wiltshire Thatcher: A Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex.
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