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A History of the Led Zeppelin Icarus Logo

Fans of Led Zeppelin have undoubtedly seen 100s of Led Zeppelin t-shirts featuring the well-known icarus logo from the band. Although many Zeppelin fans may think that the Led Zeppelin Icarus logo is a bird, it’s actually an Icarus (if you don’t have any idea what we’re talking about, just keep reading).

Led Zeppelin Icarus Logo

Led Zeppelin Icarus Logo

More interestingly, it was never a symbol or Led Zeppelin logo for the band. It was the imagery used by Led Zeppelin for their record label (Swan Song Records). That’s interesting in its own right since the Icarus has become synonymous with Led Zeppelin, but fans may be more interested in the story behind the logo.

A History of Led Zeppelin’s Icarus Logo

First off, we should probably start at the beginning. What the heck is an Icarus? According to dictionary.com, Icarus is based on ancient Greek mythology. It refers to a youth who attempted to escape from Crete with wings of wax and feathers but flew so high that his wings melted from the heat of the sun, and he plunged to his death in the sea. Wow! Seems like a great analogy for a struggling musician who finally hits it big in the music industry only to turn to a life of self destruction. This story is repeated year after year in the world of rock n roll. From Jimi Hendirx and Janis Joplin to Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, the story of the Icarus seems to be eerily too familiar to rock music fans. It’s also been rumored that the members of Zeppelin would joke about the band becoming so big that it would crash to the ground like a “led zeppelin”! As avid fans of rock n roll (and rock n roll history), all of us at Rock-n-Roll-Action-Figures.com are always a bit surprised by the thought that goes in to the band logos and symbols used by each band. I guess we just don’t give rockers enough credit (well… sometimes). Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised about this when it comes to Led Zeppelin. It’s well documented that Robert Plant has always been intrigued by the mystical.

Led Zeppelin Icarus and William Rimmer’s Evening (The Fall of Day) Sketch

To dig a little deeper, it appears that the Led Zeppelin Icarus symbol is actually based on a sketch done in 1869 by artist William Rimmer called “Evening (The Fall of Day)”. The sketch is currently being displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

William Rimmer's Evening (The Fall of Day) Sketch

William Rimmer’s Evening (The Fall of Day) Sketch


Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Records

As mentioned previously, the Led Zeppelin Icarus logo was picked by Led Zeppelin to be the logo for their record label, Swan Song Records, launched in 1974. Zeppelin launched Swan Song to promote Zeppelin works as well as the music of other bands. The most well know band to sign with Swan Song (besides Led Zeppelin), was probably Bad Company. Swan Song also released music for the solo careers of Jimi Page and Robert Plant after the breakup of Led Zeppelin. In 1983, Swan Song Records closed its doors. It does still exist to distribute reissues of old music from earlier years of the label.

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