Led Zeppelin tried just about every visual trick to make their album covers pop, from die cutting and revisionist history to sci-fi-inspired surrealism and mysterious symbols and objects. One of them even had a handful of alternate covers tucked away behind the kind of plain brown wrapper associated with bootlegs.
Along the way, these images attracted controversy, elicited confusion and spawned thousands of bong-side conversations about the real meaning of their pictorial puzzles.
For instance, who didn’t wonder: “Like, those naked kids on the Houses of the Holy cover are climbing — but toward what, man?”
Also, “What is that black thing on the table on Presence?” Whatever it was, Jimmy Page immediately bought in. When presented with a cardboard model, he said: “That is it. That represents everything that I feel right now.”
Led Zeppelin spared no expense, either. For instance, they found just the right bar in New Orleans for the In Through the Out Door cover shoot, and photographed it extensively – so that an exact replica could be built back in the U.K.
Then there was that mysterious 19th-century painting, attached to a dilapidated building, of a man with a bale of branches tied to his back.
As you’ll see in the following list, Led Zeppelin album art draws out just as many tales and questions as the powerful songs tucked away inside. Here are the stories behind their nine famous LP covers.