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Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin album art

Contributed by Neil Priddey on May 4th, 2016. Artwork published in
October 1968
    Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin album art
    Photo: Neil Priddey. License: All Rights Reserved.

    George Hardie was summoned to meet Peter Grant and Jimmy Page at Rak Records’ office in Oxford Street, London, 18th October, 1968. He remembered walking past the Marquee Club and seeing a line of people queuing up to see a new group called Led Zeppelin. He met Page and Grant and was shown a photo of the Hindenburg airship disaster. Hardie created a 7 inch square tracing paper stippled facsimile of the photo for the album cover. He was paid £60 for the finished artwork. The band logo/typeface was a modified version of Futura Extra Bold with the sharp points of the ‘Z’ truncated. The turquoise colour of the original sleeve is very rare as it was replaced within a few weeks of issue with the standard orange colour most commonly associated with this iconic album cover.


    • Tempo




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    6 Comments on “Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin album art”

    1. I’m not entirely convinced that this is a modified Futura Extra Bold. Apart from the ‘Z’, some other details are off, too, e.g. the shorter and lighter middle bar on ‘E’, the angle and weight of the diagonals, and the size of the bowl in ‘P’. Attached is a comparison against Futura Extra Black as digitized by Bitstream (spacing adjusted). There might have been versions at the time that come closer, though. The band name is most likely custom drawn.

    2. There were also several Photo-Lettering and Filmotype faces with a similar look and stroke contrast.

    3. Note that this style is also seen in an ad Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John & Bernie Taupin, making me think it is probably a photo-type interpretation of Futura and not custom lettering.

    4. This cover brings back some memories.

      Just to keep the £60 payment in perspective for today’s designers; £60 in 1968 is equivalent to about £955 in 2016 (source: Bank of England inflation calculator).

    5. I bet Ludlow’s Tempo Black is being used here because it’s a very similar-looking font that can be differentiated from Futura Extra Black by several details, such as the flattened points on the capital Z.

    6. My hat is off to you, Bryson! I think you nailed it – very likely a phototype adaptation of Ludlow’s Tempo Black, like this one carried by Fürst. I’ve replaced the typeface credit with Tempo.

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