Our 10 Favorite Led Zeppelin Album Covers

Led Zeppelin Songs

Photo Credit: By Jim Summaria, http://www.jimsummariaphoto.com/ (Contact us/Photo submission) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Well, it’s much easier to pick the Top 10 Led Zeppelin album covers than to pick the Top 10 Led Zeppelin songs or albums. Led Zeppelin only released nine studio albums and one live record before the band broke up after the death of John Bonham. So, in essence, we are just picking the order of covers according to what we think were the best. We were initially going to include all the greatest hits packages, box sets, and various live issues released in the past thirty years. Still, we decided it would be best to stick to the original issues released up to 1980 when it all ended.

Out of the ten album releases, the band only appeared on their second album cover. On their third record, the band appeared on the inner pinwheel mages on the limited run issues of that fantastic record. But the rest of the catalog was just a series of images we stared at for hours listening to the greatest rock band of all time.

Top 10 Led Zeppelin Album Covers

# 10 – Coda

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

The band’s final issue, Coda, starts our Top 10 Led Zeppelin Album Covers List. It was an album of outtakes and unreleased material. The album was released on November 19th, 1982. One of the most interesting facts about the Coda album cover was that it was designed by the art firm Hipgnosis. The company Hipgnosis was responsible for hundreds of legendary rock album covers. Their Pink Floyd covers were among the firm’s most significant artist accomplishments. Fittingly so, Led Zeppelin’s Coda was not only Led Zeppelin’s so-called final album but also the last album cover ever designed by Hipgnosis. Their first was Pink Floyd’s Saucer full of Secrets.

# 9 – The Song Remains the Same

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

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The band supposedly hated their first live album when it was released. In many press releases, the band noted that it was more of a soundtrack album than an official live record. Regardless of the band’s views, most Led Zeppelin fans loved the double record set. The cover art depicted the hall where the band rehearsed for their 1977 tour. The gate-fold record also included a multiple-page insert inside the gatefold. The recently released deluxe version of Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same on CD includes more songs than the original release and is a must-have for Led Zeppelin fans.

# 8 – Led Zeppelin I

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

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How often have you seen this image printed on t-shirts, posters, magazine ads, coffee mugs, and every printable item? We had no idea where to place this one on our Top 10 Led Zeppelin Album Covers list because it could have easily also been No. 1. It’s an image permanently ingrained in the brains of any Led Zeppelin fan who grew up in the 1970s.  The cover art was taken from a photo of the  “Hindenburg Disaster.” The Hindenburg crashed on May 6, 1937.  The Led Zeppelin album was released in the United States on January 12, 1969.

# 7 – Presence

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

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When I first saw this album in the record store when it was first released, I immediately thought of the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”  Although it may seem like that movie came out so long ago, the fact is the Led Zeppelin Presence album was released less than 10 years after Stanley Kubrick’s film first hit the theaters. So, the image and concept of the monolith were still fresh in popular culture.

The use of what Zed Zeppelin termed the Object was, in essence, a spoof on the monolith. It seemed to really be just a joke that was over-scrutinized by millions of Led Zeppelin fans. Or so it seemed….. Some fans may have been correct when they argued that the title Presence and the Object were tied together.

It seemed that there was an attempt to argue that, on some universal level, every society feels the presence of some superior force in everyday life no matter where one may be. It seemed it was Led Zeppelin’s way of reacting to the concept of the divine without pulling in the aspects of religion. In interviews over the years, the band has mentioned this intent. Led Zeppelin’s Presence was released on March 31, 1976.

# 6 – In Through The Out Door

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

Although Coda was the last official album released by Led Zeppelin, In Through the Out Door stands as the last studio album released by the band before the death of John Bonham. It was the band’s last album of newly recorded material together as Led Zeppelin.  The album was released with six different covers.

The original issues were wrapped in a genuine brown paper bag sleeve. The brown paper bag cover has become a highly collectible since many fans threw it out. The album was released on August 15th, 1979. John Bonham died just a little over a year later, on September 24th, 1980. Bonham was only 32 years old when he passed away.

# 5 – Led Zeppelin II

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

Led Zeppelin II was the only album to feature the band on a front cover. The cover art was taken from a famous picture of German soldiers during World War I. The image was initially titled “The Flying Circus.”  Manfred von Richthofen led the group of soldiers. The man was also known as the “The Red Baron.”  The faces of the Germans were removed and replaced with the four members of Led Zeppelin. The cover also featured the faces of actress Glynis John, Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Green, and tour manager Robert Cole. The album was released on October 22nd, 1969.

# 4 – Physical Graffiti

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What we loved about the iconic Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti cover was the use of the windows of the building. Since the album was a two-record set, fans were able to line up one of four sleeves to match up different faces in the windows.

The band continued using well-known personalities on their covers like they did on the Led Zeppelin II album cover. In some of the windows of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album, there were pictures of manager Peter Grant; various band members dressed a bit differently, so shall we say, Laurel and Hardy, Charles Atlas, Lee Harvey Oswald, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, King Kong, and Judy Garland.

The building used as the template for the cover was a five-story building, which was cropped down to a four-story building for size purposes on the front cover. The building was located at 98 St Marks Place in New York City. The structure still stands there in the present day.

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

Photo by: By fatskier profile (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The above picture depicts the original building used for the Led Zeppelin Album Cover of Physical Graffiti. The location of the building was on St Marks Place in the East Village of New York City

# 3 – Led Zeppelin IV

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

If we had to pick a top 10 list for the most famous covers of all time, this one would have to be on it just for the sheer popularity of the album. Well, first, the facts, Jack. The album was released on November 8, 1971.

Most fans allude to this album as Led Zeppelin IV. Even we labeled as it Led Zeppelin IV on our Led Zeppelin Albums Covers list. The truth of that matter is the album has no title. It’s simply their fourth album. Why did the album have no title, well because Jimmy Page once said just before the release of their fourth album, “Names, titles and things like that do not mean a thing.”

Now, as far as the cover goes. Robert Plant explained the meaning behind the cover. It represented the change in the balance that was going on. There was the old countryman and the blocks of flats being knocked down. It was just a way of saying that we should look after the earth, not rape and pillage it.[1]

  1. Dave Schulps, Interview with Jimmy Page, Trouser Press, October 1977.

# 2 – Led Zeppelin III

Led Zeppelin Album Covers

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If you purchased Led Zeppelin III in the early to mid-seventies, chances are you secured a copy with the pinwheel. And that, in essence, is what made this album score so high on our Top 10 Led Zeppelin Album Covers list. The cover was designed by Richard Drew, also known as the artist Zacron. The man was known as an innovator in graphic techniques. What else can we say about this cover? It’s a pinwheel, it makes you happy, and it’s fun to play with while listening to the “Immigrant Song.”

# 1 – Houses Of The Holy

If you grew up listening to Led Zeppelin in the 1970s, you would understand the mystique that surrounded the band. There was always some rumor about this or that circulating among Led Zeppelin fans. Almost all talk of Led Zeppelin was done by word of mouth or listening to the radio. They were not on TV. No bands were on TV. We had only 10 channels. It was a different world. Adding to the band’s mystique were covers like Houses of the Holy.

The album Houses of the Holy was released on March 28th, 1973. The artwork for the album cover was designed by the art firm Hipgnosis, who later went on to design Presence and In Through the Out Door. Because of the children pictured on the cover, the album was initially released with a slim 2-inch white sleeve featuring the album title that was not on the cardboard cover or sleeve. But the mysticism of Led Zeppelin was further fueled by brilliant covers like Houses of the Holy Lands, this one as our top choice on the Top 10 Led Zeppelin Album Covers List.

Soldgiers Photo: Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2004-0430-501 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Led Zeppelin Album Covers article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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