Revealed: Mystery man who appears on cover of Led Zeppelin IV is identified as ... trends now
A mystery man who appeared on the album cover of Led Zeppelin IV has been identified as a 19th Century thatcher.
Released on November 8, 1971, Led Zeppelin's fourth album cover depicts a portrait of an old man carrying a bundle of sticks, leading fans to pore over the artwork for meaning and hidden messages for more than half a century.
Now, a local historian and big fan of the band has revealed that the man in the image is most likely to be Lot Long from Mere in Wiltshire, photographed by Ernest Farmer.
Brian Edwards, from the University of the West of England (UWE), made the discovery after sifting through a selection of 19th-century photographs for other research.
It was at this point that the image of the old man stuck out as remarkably familiar from his teenage years of rock fandom.
A mystery man who appeared on the album cover of Led Zeppelin IV (pictured) has been identified as a 19th Century thatcher
Released on November 8, 1971, Led Zeppelin's fourth album cover led fans to pore over the artwork for meaning and hidden messages for more than half a century (Band pictured in 1968)
A local historian has revealed that the man in the image is most likely to be Lot Long from Mere in Wiltshire
Mr Edwards told The Telegraph: 'My jaw hit the floor. I knew straight away it was him, I knew where I'd seen him before.
'I listened to Led Zeppelin a lot in my teenage years. It's such an iconic album. I hope the band will be pleased with the find.'
Released in 1971, Led Zeppelin IV has sold more than 37 million copies worldwide and includes the huge hit Stairway to Heaven.
The cover art had previously been described as a photograph of a painting, which was reportedly discovered by the band's lead singer, Robert Plant, after he found the portrait in an antiques shop in Reading.
But the framed image which can be seen on the cover is actually a colourised photograph, the whereabouts of which is now unknown.
With the help of Mr Edwards, Wiltshire Museum has since acquired the original photograph and plans to include it in an exhibition next year.
The original portrait, a black and white photograph taken in the 1890s, carried the caption 'A Wiltshire Thatcher'
Released in 1971, Led Zeppelin IV has sold more than 37 million copies worldwide and includes the huge hit Stairway to Heaven
The original portrait, a black and white photograph taken in the 1890s, carried the caption 'A Wiltshire Thatcher' and was accompanied by a handwritten note.
It's nearly 55 years since guitarist Jimmy Page and his bandmates released their self-titled debut LP in 1969.
Together with singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham, the band went on to become one of the best-selling acts in music history, selling more than 200 million albums worldwide.
The band's heavy, guitar-driven sound led them to be cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal.
Although initially unpopular with critics, they achieved significant commercial success with eight studio albums released over eleven years.
They achieved eight consecutive UK number-one albums and six number-one albums on the US Billboard 200, with five of their albums certified Diamond in the US.
Rolling Stone magazine described them as 'the heaviest band of all time' and 'unquestionably one of the most enduring bands in rock history'.
The group disbanded following Bonham's death in 1980, feeling that they would not be 'Led Zeppelin' without him. Since then, the surviving former members have sporadically collaborated.
It read: 'Reminiscences of a visit to Shaftesbury. Whitsuntide 1892. A present to Auntie from Ernest.'
Explaining how he discovered the photographer of the piece, Mr Edwards said he compiled a list of photographers practising in Victorian Wiltshire at such time and found a man from Salisbury called Robert Farmer.
Ernest was the