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19 November 2011 7,990 views 9 Comments

Going To California by Gary Houston

Last Thursday evening, the Floods Gallery in Greenwich unveiled the eight art prints commissioned to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin IV at a special launch event.
The exhibition features eight unique original art prints with designs inspired by and representing the eight individual tracks on the album lining up as follow:
Black Dog by Justin Hampton
Rock And Roll by Kii Arens
The Battle Of Evermore by John Vogl
Stairway To Heaven by Jermaine Rogers
Misty Mountain Hop by Nate Duval
Four Sticks by Dan Grzeca
Going To California by Gary Houston
When The Levee Breaks by Mike King

The framed designs on display offer a stunning visual imagery of the album as seen through the eyes of the artists involved. Whilst any art piece is subjective to an individual’s taste, the breath of imagination and attention to detail throughout the designs is quite striking. On the journey across London on the Docklands light railway (we gave a nod to the passing 02 building on the way), Gary Foy and I attempted to predict how some of the tracks would be perceived.
We could never have envisaged the blatantly provocative designs for Black Dog and Rock And Roll – the latter a very visual take on that alleged famous groupie incident at the Edgewater hotel in mid-1969. Elsewhere the designs illustrate the struggle for light and dark in The Battle Of Evermore, the May queen duality of Stairway To Heaven , the flying spirits in search of the Misty Mountain Hop, the owl that cried in the night in Four Sticks, the San Francisco travelogue of Going To California and the desperate rivers of When The Levee Breaks.

Black Dog by Justin Hampton

Rock & Roll by Kii Arens

Talking about his design for Black Dog prior to the opening of the show, artist Justin Hampton told me ‘’It’s one of the most iconic rock ’n’ roll songs and it’s very primal –very sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Basically the song is about an obsession with a woman. The frustration, the longing – all that stuff. The yearning for something better. It’s about an unattainable women and in the end she stings him in the butt a bit! I went with that idea of the obsessive, the big eyes behind the figure of the very alluring sexy woman – very obsessive with the watching eyes and then in the pupils of the eyes there are black dog heads – so the dog is in there if you look hard enough! Of the other designs I really like Jermaine’s Stairway To Heaven. He really captures the essence of that song.

with Justin Hampton and some rather esential reading…

Talking about what is it was about their fourth album that made it so special, Justin added ‘’There are certain albums that are complete start to finish albums. Led Zeppelin IV is exactly that. You can’t just listen to a single song and be satisfied – it’s a very strong compact album. I think it was also very much a breakthrough album for them as at that point, they finally began got some respect from the critics.’’

I asked Chris Marksberry the man behind the exhibition and the recently opened Flood Gallery, how he established the Flood Gallery concept and the idea to present this unique 40th anniversary celebration of the fourth Led Zeppelin album.

with Flood Gallery creator Chris Marksberry

‘’I’ve worked in music manufacturing for 25 years –my company Sound Perfromance presses vinyl, CD’s sleeves, DVD’s etc As part of my company there’s a festival I attend called South by South West in the US – a massive music convention – I go there for the manufacturing side and I happened upon a convention there called Flatstock which is full of poster artists. I was blown away by the artwork –it reminded me of going back to an old record shop. I brought back about 300 posters and this year came up with the idea of introducing it to the London market. These are special things to collect and they’re not all that expensive. The market is contemporary and fast moving. So very quickly I found this space in Greenwich and we opened the Flood Gallery in July to specialize in concert poster art artist and movie posters.

The Battle Of Evermore by John Vogl

From day one we wanted to put on some shows and we wanted to work with artists that we really liked. I wanted to do something with Zeppelin and it was a co- incidence that the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV was coming up –I’m a massive Led Zep fan so I would have done something at the gallery featuring them at some point. Presenting Led Zep IV was the perfect timing. I did think about just presenting their greatest hits as it were such as Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, Kashmir etc. The more I thought about it, I realized we could do something that represented the whole album. It’s such a unique album. It’s one of the few albums by any artist where every song is strong and can stand on its own – so that’s how I knew we could present an art piece for every track –you couldn’t do that if there had been weak tracks in there.’’

Stairway To Heaven by Jermaine Rogers

Talking about how the artists were commissioned Chris said
‘’Half the artists were people we already had a working relationship with, we already knew them and we wanted to include them in the show and liked their work.It was a way of saying thank you for supporting us. The others were artists that we’d seen and liked their style and knew it could work with the Zeppelin songs. My personal favorite is Black Dog – but I like them all – they are all pretty amazing – I’m very pleased with the whole set.’’

Finally I asked him what it what it was about the fourth Led Zeppelin album that made it so special for him personally. ‘’The thing about Led Zeppelin IV is that I like the whole package. I like the fact it hasn’t got a name – it’s got four mysterious symbols. I love the art work, the inner sleeve, the whole design – and every track is a killer. These are so many great moments on both sides of the album.
They were such brilliant musicians, plus they were brilliant visually. Each member of the band musically were the absolute masters of their instrument. They had mystery and the production of their records was very good – none of its dated. There were two sides to Zeppelin –the rock side and then this incredible acoustic quality. They had it all.’’

Misty Mountain Hop by Nate Duval

Flood Gallery manager and designer Tom Warner added ‘’Screen printing posters of this nature are new to the UK though I’ve been into it a while. Of the designs for the Zeppelin show – again I really like Black Dog and Stairway. Rock And Roll from Kii Arens also stands out. Kii is not in the traditional mode and he could be considered more of a graphic designer than a poster artist. I myself designed the Exhibition poster – we wanted something that pulled everything together and didn’t relate to one specific poster in the event. It was a case of considering what Zeppelin was all about and incorporating the song titles in and so on. We’ve had exhibitions before but this is something really special. To present the best album by one of the all time best bands in this way is a real thrill for the gallery’’.

with Flood Gallery’s Tom Warner

The full interviews with Justin, Chris and Tom will appear in the next TBL magazine

Once the doors opened the gallery did brisk business with plenty of Led Zep IV prints being eagerly snapped up. It was good to see TBL subscribers Russell Ritchin and Paul Stevenson in attendance and Mascot Records Lisa Bardsley. Alongside the Led Zep IV showcase, there are numerous superb rock artists prints on offer including art poster prints featuring Them Crooked Vultures, Robert Plant, The Band Of Joy, Foo Fighters Bob Dylan and many more. The gallery is well worth a visit – the Led Zeppelin IV Exhibition runs to November 24th.

Four Sticks by Dan Grzeca

A limited amount of the Led Zeppelin IV prints and the event poster are now available to order online at –


Hurry – they are selling fast… 40 years on the attraction for all aspects of this classic record continues unabated ( Led Zeppelin IV has returned to the Billboard chart this week for the first time since 1987) – the interest in these remarkable art pieces are a testament to that statement…
Dave Lewis – November 19th 2011

When The Levee Breaks by Mike King

The TBL 2

with Russell Ritchin and Paul Stevenson

With Mascot Records Lisa Bardsley

GF with a TCV design

DL with the master in his prime

‘Dreams of you all through my head”

Janet can I have this one for the bathroom…..?!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


  • Kathy Urich said:

    Gary my hats off to you as well thanks for all you do to keep TBL the best Zeppelin site on the web and beyond…. hands down!

  • Kathy Urich said:

    I spoke to soon I jumped on the site as soon as I could and didn’t realize that the three I thought were sold out are not: Going to California, Four Sticks and Levee; they just hadn’t been posted. when you price them out seperatly the group rate is really the best way to go if you have that kind of change. My problem is wall space oh for a studio apartment in a warehouse where I could post them all that would be awesome. The going to California is awesome as is MMH, I do like my event poster though, notice Sandy Denny’s symbol uner Roberts head, that took me a bit to find. What an awesome tribute…..Now lets do this with PG. I wonder what the artists would do with Custard Pie or Sick Again LOL. Imagine Kashmir, Down By The Seaside or Ten Years Gone….This was simply a brilliant idea.

  • Tim Davies said:

    The “Going to California” poster is the winner by far….very iconic.
    The design for “Misty Mountain Hop” is very very good too !!
    Stairway is a bit too literal, but works very well. Battle of Evermore very strong as well ! All in all a great selection of ideas and imagery.

  • Michaela said:

    thanks for this Dave
    And as Richard said gutted not to have made it , but yet another birthday night out beckoned !
    Thanks for all the descriptions , helped make my choice… have the pre ordered event poster already , which Dan has decided to steal! And on looking through the choices , have also gone for Going to California ….and it had to be ….Stairway .
    I love the stories behind the pics , they are all so good.
    Although have to agree with Janet , not so keen on the shark!
    Am also very tempted by the Foos poster , or the Vultures posters they have. Just need to find some wall space !
    Dave you should be on commission from them , we seem all to have bought loads .
    Thanks again , ‘Mx

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    May I mention that Gary Foy did a great job assiting with the interviews/admin stuff etc on the night – thanks mate!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Richard – they do look very impressive…

    Kathy and Glen – thanks for those lovely comments

  • Richard G said:

    Really wanted to join you guys for this but work commitments meant it didn’t work out 🙁 Having ordered the show poster in advance, was really looking forward to seeing what the artists had come up with but nothing prepares you for the R&R print – crikey!

    San Francisco has special memories for me personally so I’ll definitely pick up GtC with the Golden Gate and probably order StH as it’s the most significant and then WtLB just because I like it!

    Sorry I missed you all…hope to catch you soon…

    Regs etc.


  • Kathy Urich said:

    Dave these are stellar works of art. I purchased the event poster but really love the Misty Moutain Hop poster as well. I see Going to California, Four Sticks and When The Levy breaks seem to have sold out for single poster purchase. I jusy might have to have MMH it so Jimmy. I wonder what the boys in the band think of these? Rock & Roll cracks me up. Thanks Dave as always for the great reporting and the heads up for those of us across the pond who wish we we’re there.

  • Glen said:

    Thanks for being there Dave, through your eyes we get to see all these zep related things ‘off the press’ as it were. Love the ‘Rock n Roll print’ – laughed a lot at that one. I want one for MY bathroom wall please. Excellent stuff, as always. I log on EVERY day for any new news, as I do on Jimmy’s site. What would we do without you. Can I be (one of…) the first to wish you a good festive season. Looking forward to every new zep related morsal you have to offer.

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