Dukes/Atlantic Records Auction
His image is familiar to millions, emblematic of a generation of rock fans and a 52-year-old mystery finally solved: the bearded, hunched old man carrying a large bundle of sticks as seen on the cover of the 1971 album known as Led Zeppelin IV is nothing else that…
Lots of Long. It might mean nothing to you now, but if you needed the thatched roof of your Wiltshire cottage in the 1890s, this guy might just be your go-to guy.
In a tale of coincidence and chance, the identity of the Victorian-era roofer has finally been established, more than half a century since a colorized copy of the original black-and-white photo attracted attention. attention of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy. Page and singer Robert Plant. Neither of them knew who this man was when they came across the color copy while browsing an antiques store outside London a long time ago.
The intriguing story of the photo’s identification was revealed in a New York Times article submitted by the newspaper’s correspondent in London, Claire Moses. The big reveal comes exactly 52 years to the day since the November 8, 1971 release of what many consider Zeppelin’s masterpiece, the album containing the FM radio standard Stairway to Heaven.
The most recent chapter of the story begins with Brian Edwards, a visiting scholar at the University of the West of England who, as the Times reports, “was scouring the Internet for new releases at auction houses auctions that could be of interest to his research, which includes the region’s famous landmark, Stonehenge.
While surfing the Web, Edwards came across a Victorian photo album of landscapes and houses. While leafing through, he came across something he had first seen when he bought Led Zeppelin IV the year it was released.
“There was something familiar right away,” Edwards told the Times. He quickly phoned his wife – for a “sanity check,” he says – and concluded that yes, the photo was of the guy on the cover, although it was a black version and white as opposed to the colorized version on the cover. album (sometimes wrongly considered a painting).
Edwards’ next call was to the Wiltshire Museum, where the Victorian album was being auctioned. Edwards, who had curated an exhibition at the museum in 2021, learned that the photo album, titled Memories of a visit to Shaftesburywas the work of a man named Ernest Howard Farmer, who had taken, compiled and inscribed the photo album in Victorian times as a gift for his “aunt”.
The man in the photo has been identified as Lot Long, a 69-year-old who thatched roofs of cottages in rural Wiltshire, a county in southwest England, in the 1890s.
As for how the image ended up on the cover of Led Zeppelin IV, apparently Page and Plant were browsing an antiques store in Pangbourne, a village about 50 miles west of London along the the Thames, when they spotted a colorized version of the photo. Edwards theorizes that the photographer, who also taught photography, had used a black-and-white print of the image to teach students how to colorize. (The colorized print purchased by Page and Plant has apparently been long lost).
As for solving the mystery, Edwards tells Times“It sounds like good detective work, but in reality there was a lot of luck involved. I took a few good breaks.