The Meaning of the Led Zeppelin Symbols
What Is It?
Quick: What's the name of the fourth Led Zeppelin album? Led Zeppelin IV? ZoSo? Girls, Girls, Girls? No, no, and shame on you. The "title" is actually a bunch of weird signs. This is one of the best-selling albums of all time, containing classics like Black Dog, Rock and Roll and Stairway to Heaven, and only two people in the world know what the title really means (one of whom has apparently forgotten it).
He could have written it down, but noooo. Groupies.
You see, in 1971 Led Zeppelin decided to release an album without any text or markings of any kind on the LP cover, which only depicted a cryptic image of an old man carrying a bundle of sticks. It would be lazy of us to attribute this decision to drugs but, OK, yeah, that's probably it. In lieu of a name, Atlantic Records asked the press to refer to the record as a series of four metaphysical symbols, even distributing graphics in various sizes that they could use:
"And now let's hear 'Stairway to Heaven' from, uh ... let's say, the Rolling Stones."
Each symbol was selected by one of the four band members to represent himself. Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham have been upfront about the meanings of their respective symbols: the two in the middle come from The Book of Signs, and the one with the feather was created by Plant to represent the fabled lost continent of Mu. Bonham's mystical avatar is also rumored to be inspired by the Ballantine beer logo, because apparently the man was known to enjoy a drink or two every now and then (he's dead now).
Forty shots of vodka can do that.