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R J Jones

Led Zeppelin IV photo location - mystery solved

27 posts in this topic

Hi everyone

I've been a long time reader of the forum but finally decided to join today and contribute. This is my 'go to' place on the net for LZ, you guys are goldmine of info.

One thing that has always intrigued me, is the location of the urban scene that makes up part of the Led Zep IV artwork. This question gets asked quite often on the internet and the oft repeated fact is it shows Butterfield Court in Dudley. As I pass this place quite often I've never been satisfied that this is correct.

Having too much time on my hands the last couple of days I decided to see if I could find the true location. It turns out I was not the only one looking into it. A gentleman from Birmingham called Mark Wadman had also been doing the same and between us we are sure we have nailed down the exact spot. Mark was actually a step ahead of me and had already been out and photographed the site as it looks today.

The block of flats on the album is 'Salisbury Tower' and it is in the Ladywood district of Birmingham. The row of demolished houses in front is Camden Street.

Anyway I was fortunate enough to find an old B&W photo which amazingly shows the exact row of houses which are half demolished on the album cover. Pay particular attention to the position of the advertising board, the decorative surrounds of the windows and doors,etc. There's no doubt it is the same row of houses.

post-28935-0-00884100-1413902792_thumb.j

Using Google street view I tried to get a modern view of the same location: You can see the white houses in the distance still exist.

post-28935-0-60649900-1413902834_thumb.j

Mark's photo from within Camden Street shows 'Salisbury Tower'. You can even make out the other two blocks of flats which you see on the LZ cover. It is near impossible to take a photo from the same spot and alignment as the original because you'd be standing in someone's back garden! :black_eye:

post-28935-0-64143800-1413902835_thumb.j

Lastly I used an old 1946 map of the streetplan to make an estimation of where the original photo was shot from (see the red arrow). I've also highlighted the row of demolished houses in Camden St . and the position of where Salisbury Tower stands today.

post-28935-0-14106400-1413902833_thumb.j

Hopefully this will clear up once and for all where the photo was taken. Big thanks to Mark Wadman for helping me identify the spot and thankyou forumites for taking time to read all of this!

Some of you may find it interesting.

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^^ R J Jones, welcome to the forum and thank you and Mark for the work you put into this :peace:

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My pleasure! It was a real buzz narrowing it down and I'm happy it is of interest to others. I actually find it quite poignant seeing those houses in the B&W photo when they were still obviously loved family homes and then looking at them on the IV album being torn down.

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Great detective work!

+1 this is amazing! The detective work is very very impressive

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Good stuff. Thank-you for posting this cool, and useful trivia information. Anyone remember what the billboard on the side of the building stated? IIRC, it was a deceased child on a gurney with the words, "Everyday a child receives relief from hunger", or something along those lines. Any chance of getting a re-post of the images in a size that don't fry my retinas trying to view on a computer screen?

Edited by The Dark Lord

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Hi Dark Lord, the b&w photo was something I stumbled across by pure chance on the internet. That is the only size I have of it so I scaled all of the other photos accordingly in order to give side by side views.

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Hi Dark Lord, the b&w photo was something I stumbled across by pure chance on the internet. That is the only size I have of it so I scaled all of the other photos accordingly in order to give side by side views.

I thought that might be the case. Thanks for clarifying. Getting old is no fun.

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Just looking at the angles again, and it is quite possible the 'Stick Carrying Man' painting was hanging on a wall from this block of buildings I have marked in green. It's long gone so of course we'll never know for sure. One thing is for certain, someone lives on that spot right now and probably hasn't a clue!

post-28935-0-25921200-1413924204_thumb.j

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I always wondered were the multi storey block was, thanks for clearing that up.

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Good stuff. Thank-you for posting this cool, and useful trivia information. Anyone remember what the billboard on the side of the building stated? IIRC, it was a deceased child on a gurney with the words, "Everyday a child receives relief from hunger", or something along those lines. Any chance of getting a re-post of the images in a size that don't fry my retinas trying to view on a computer screen?

Yes, I believe that was an anti-hunger campaign billboard poster produced by Oxfam (a charitable organization whose efforts continue to this very day).

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Very impressive sleuthing. Wish I could have gone along as it seems it was a lot of fun.

Butterfield Court is reportedly a former residence of John Bonham's:

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/call-for-blue-plaque-at-former-dudley-218717

Thanks for that story, Steve. Particularly this quote from his ex neighbour:-

“But back then John Bonham was nothing to me. I’m not into pop music and to me he was just somebody with a pink suit and a Roller."

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This is a cool thread. I've been to England many times, but I will have to check this out on one of my future trips. Without trying to play partisan politics here, does anyone else think that LZ IV is one of the most interesting LP covers in rock? The inner gatefold I can take or leave, but the outer is truly iconic.

Edited by The Dark Lord

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This is a cool thread. I've been to England many times, but I will have to check this out on one of my future trips. Without trying to play partisan politics here, does anyone else think that LZ IV is one of the most interesting LP covers in rock? The inner gatefold I can take or leave, but the outer is truly iconic.

Yes for sure. It's so simple at first glance but it becomes more enigmatic and intriguing the more you look at it. The fact there is no title or band logo adds to the mystery.

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Well done with your detective work! Welcome to the forum!!!

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 Thanks for solving a mystery that has grated at me since the 1970s!

As to the location of the house where the Stick Man photo was taken, I suspect it could be anywhere in that area. If you look closely at the plaster work, you can see that the complete photo on the front and back cover is actually an overlay, done in the studio by Hipgnosis. It is unlikely the photo could be taken as a single shot and keep both the wallpaper, the houses, and the tower block in focus. I don't doubt the position of the photographer to be where you estimate. But he probably stood in a cleared lot the other side of Camden Street. Looking at photos in the area in the mid to late 60s, you can see that entire swathes of  terraces were destroyed. The day of the shoot, I would guess he wandered around Brookfields, and took dozens of photos, from which the eventual two were selected in the studio.

By the way, from what source is the 1946 street plan?

Good job!

Edited by Bob
Adding extra info

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camden23.jpeg.b5437994da05f326cb2866f9d4 

In this photo, corner of Camden and Ellen Streets, you can see a tree on the left behind a lamp post. It may be the dead tree that you see in the album cover photo

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Another photo of Camden Street, where you see the cleared lot between Icknield and Ellen Streets, on the west side of Ellen. This is the lot to the left of the row houses you see on the album cover.

 

tesco.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

Hmmm, I'm google maps earth viewing all around Birmingham and there seems to be heaps of these high-rise apartment buildings everywhere, many nearby this one so just wondering, if this IS the right tower where is the "same-era" low-rise apartment building that appears to the immediate rear left of the high-rise building on the album cover?  Or was this low-rise building (originally part of the same complex?) knocked down to make way for the A4540 Ladywood Middleway dual carriageway as it approaches the large round-about zone at Spring Hill Road & Summer Hill Road?  A bit more history fill in needed here.

LedZepIV RearPhoto.png

LedZepIV Album Photo Location.png

Edited by Groundy

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