Led Zeppelin created eight studio albums during their decade long recording career from 1969 to 1979, becoming one of the most influential acts of all time, selling over 300 million albums worldwide due to the success of classic songs such as Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Kashmir and many others. While the band has released many compilations and live albums since their last studio album in 1979, we are instead going to focus on just the studio albums for this list. For this reason, albums such as Coda, Mothership, and Celebration will be excluded from this list.
Here are all of Led Zeppelin’s studio album covers ranked from worst to best.
8. Presence (1976)
Kicking off this list is 1976’s Presence, which features a family sitting at a table in front of a marina staring at an unknown black object. The marina was artificially installed in London’s Earl’s Court arena in the winter of 1974-1975. The band had played some shows at the venue shortly after the Boat Show in May 1975. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album Package in 1977.
7. In Through the Out Door (1979)
The original album cover for In Through the Out Door featured quite an interesting concept. The album could come with one of six different pair of photographs for the front and back art, each depicting the same scene in a bar. The outer sleeve for the album also looked like a brown paper bag, making it next to impossible for the buyer to know which version they were going to receive when purchasing the album. In future re-releases and remasters the album cover above was selected as the only cover art for the album.
6. Houses of the Holy (1973)
The album cover for the 1973 album House of the Holy features a collage of photographs taking at Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland by Aubrey Powell, taken at both morning and sunset to capture both the dawn and dust effect. The album cover took ten days to photograph and went on to be nominated for a Grammy in 1974, while also being voted 6th on VH1’s 50 Greatest Album Covers in 2003.
5. Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
The album cover for Led Zeppelin IV features a 19th-century oil painting that was purchased by Robert Plant from an antique shop in Reading. The painting was then added to a papered wall in a partly demolished suburban home to create the iconic cover. In 2010, the album cover was chosen by The Royale for a set of postage stamps featuring classic album covers.
4. Led Zeppelin III (1970)
On the surface, Led Zeppelin III might just seem like a jumbled mess of pop art, but the cover has a lot of clever elements to it. The cover, like the previous two Led Zeppelin album covers, has an aviation theme to it. It also comes with a laminated card disc behind it that could be spun to change the images seen in the various holes on the cover, making it quite a unique cover for the time and not something that we’ve really seen since either.
3. Physical Graffiti (1975)
Physical Graffiti depicts a New York City tenement block, chosen for its symmetrical design by designer Peter Corriston. This is also the same building that was used by The Rolling Stones in their music video for “Waiting On A Friend”.
2. Led Zeppelin II (1969)
Led Zeppelin II followed the first album just a few months after its release in 1969. The cover from the album was based on a photograph of the Jagdstaffel 11 Division of the German Air Force during World War 1. The artist for the album cover, David Juniper, replaced four of the pilots heads with members of the band, while also including French actress Delphine Seyrig during her role as Marie-Magdalene in the film Mister Freedom. The cover also featured an outline of a Zeppelin, a nod to the first album cover.
1. Led Zeppelin (1969)
Finally, we have the album cover of the very first Led Zeppelin album, often referred to as Led Zeppelin 1. The cover features an image of the Hindenburg airship, that was photographed by Sam Shere on 6 May 1937. The story regarding the cover goes back to before the band was formed. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and The Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle had discussed forming a band together. It is reported that Keith Moon joked that the band would “probably go over like a lead balloon”, in which Entwistle replied “a lead zeppelin!, which is where the name came from. The Led Zeppelin 1 album cover is a nod back to that as the Hindenburg airship is a zeppelin.