Zepped Again! (Part II)

Once you start looking for Led Zep references, you find that there’s no shortage of how the band’s visual iconography spawned homage over the years. Take this logo for a vanity record label created by jokester Les Claypool of the American band Primus. For comparison, LZ’s iconic “Icarus” logo, with its Art Nouveau typeface, is on the left.

Swan Song – Prawn Song

The original source for the logo is the painting below by American artist William Rimmer. Entitled Evening (The Fall of Day) it is said to depict the Greek god Apollo. or alternately the fallen angel Lucifer, as the figure has a halo and is without genitalia, as the angels are supposed to be.

The original heavy metal headbanger?

The original Swan Song logo as it appeared on vinvyl. Notice the lettering is more Book of Kells in this early version.

The main difference is how the LZ version of the figure holds his left arm up, not folded behind him, as if he’s headbanging at a concert. But the pose also makes it seem like he’s lost his ability to fly and is plunging to the earth, which is more in line with with the legend of Icarus. Icarus was the teenage son son of the inventive genius Daedulus, who was imprisoned by King Minos. Daedulus made two pairs of wings out of paper, wax, and feathers so he and Icarus could fly to freedom, warning his son not to fly too close to the sun or the wax would melt. But Icarus was forgetful, or perhaps too prideful, to take heed, and his fatal mistake caused him to plunge from the sky. This is the interpretation the band chose for the figure.

In LZ’s fanon mythos the falling youth with his mane of blonde hair represents Robert Plant, who suffered the most personal tragedies during the band’s existence. (Though one could say John Bonham suffered more — he died.) In this context Jimmy Page could be said to represent the unseen inventor Daedulus, who created the wings but lost his son forever. Hindsight made clear the logo foretold the band would eventually “fly too close to the sun”  with drugs, drink, and dealings in black magic,

The 1974 rock film Phantom of the Paradise, one of the first directorial efforts by Brian DePalma, plays with this idea by creating a similar logo for his fictional label Death Records, which embodies all the sleaziness of the industry.

The logo was soooo similar with its avian mascot and feel of doom that Peter Grant, LZ’s manager, attended an advance screening of the film to make sure his band was not being libeled. He decided it wasn’t, but a scene of the film’s Gary Glitter stand-in Beef being electrocuted by a falling lightning bolt sign moved Grant to tears as it reminded him of a friend who had been similarly electrocuted. (This story was referenced in Hammer of the Gods biography of the band; I haven’t seen it repeated anywhere else.)

Since then the Swan Song logo has been referenced many times.

Various t-shirt designs

A different kind of logo

A t-shirt with a pun on the logo in the Dutch language, “Vet” means “fat.”

Album covers have their pastiche forms as well, like these two of Led Zeppelin I.

The LP on the right is by Lez Zeppelin, an all-female tribute band. No idea about the other.

Other albums have gotten the homage treatment.

The top two are memes, the lower two actual albums bu 3rd SEcret and the Jimi Homeless Experience.

The symbols representing the band, appearing first on Led Zeppelin IV, have been spoofed as well.

Top: A SLovakian parody; bottom, design by Paul Imperial

Homages also flow in the other direction. Below, fan art of the band in the style of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album and Yellow Submarine.

The top one, I think, was a scan from a magazine sometime after 1979; note the reference to the Clash’s “London Calling” lyrics. The bottom is a bootleg CD. These are gorgeous parodies, so click on them to appreciate them in a larger size.

Here’s the boys playing tribute to the cover of the Stones’ Her Satanic Majesty’s Request. You know, the winky-dink one worth thousands today. Again, it’s gorgeous.

A big fan of The Legend of Zelda AND Led Zeppelin combines their two passions into one.

Artwork by bate_man26

I’ll close with those one: The King Beers meets the King(s) of Rock.


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