The “Led Zeppelin II” album cover was based on a photo of the famous German pilot “The Red Baron”. The faces of the German pilots were replaced with the Led Zeppelin band members, members of the bands management and several other famous people.
The artist David Juniper has even been quoted as saying that one of the “famous people” he used on the album cover was NASA astronaut and the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong. Juniper said,
All the faces were replaced or altered (sunglasses & beards on some of the pilots!). In amongst the four band members (airbrushed in from a publicity photograph) are Miles Davis (or was it Blind Willie Johnson?), a girlfriend/muse of Andy Warhol (perhaps Mary Woronov) and the astronaut Neil Armstrong.
Mr. Juniper is mistaken, as the astronaut used on the cover is not Armstrong but rather Frank Borman, Commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the Moon. Here is the exact photo of Borman used for the Zeppelin cover.
I even found this photo of Borman holding up the Led Zeppelin II album cover he autographed.
With the release of Led Zeppelin’s sixth record, Physical Graffiti (1975), artist Peter Corriston with designer Mike Doud made an attempt at incorporating Armstrong’s image into the sleeve design for the album. Look at the upper right corner window and you can see an astronaut in the window that the artist claimed is Neil Armstrong…
Wrong again…The image is actually astronaut Buzz Aldrin (the second man to walk on the moon).
I suppose you can technically say that Armstrong is in the photo as his reflection is visible in Aldrin’s visor but I’d like to say that is two strikes against Led Zeppelin using Neil Armstrong. Zeppelin sure loved NASA, they used the astronaut photo from Apollo 14 for their best of album…