Album Cover Art: "Houses of the Holy" - Led Zeppelin  

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The cover of the 1972 Led Zeppelin's album still remains today full with controversy, even if some of the stories have been revealed in the past years.

Here is the "official" version of the story behind the cover which is also close to the truth as you will see bellow:

The cover art for Houses of the Holy was inspired by the ending of Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End. (The ending involves several hundred million naked children, only slightly and physically resembling the human race in basic forms). It is a collage of several photographs which were taken at the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, by Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. This location was chosen ahead of an alternative one in Peru.

The two children who modelled for the cover were siblings Stefan and Samanatha Gates. The photoshoot was a frustrating affair over the course of ten days. Shooting was done first thing in the morning and at sunset in order to capture the light at dawn and dusk, but the desired effect was never achieved due to constant rain and clouds. The photos of the two children were taken in black and white and were multi-printed to create the effect of 11 individuals that can be seen on the album cover. The results of the shoot were less than satisfactory, but some accidental tinting effects in post-production created an unexpectedly striking album cover. The inner sleeve photograph was taken at Dunluce Castle near to the Causeway.

Like Led Zeppelin's fourth album, neither the band's name nor the album title was printed on the sleeve. However, manager Peter Grant did allow Atlantic records to add a wrap-around band to UK copies of the sleeve that had to be broken or slid off to access the record. This hid the children's buttocks from general display, but still the album was either banned or unavailable in Spain and some parts of the Southern United States for several years. The first CD release of the album in the 1980s did have the title logos printed on the cover itself(Wiki)

But while the sleeve design is familiar across the globe, what no one knows is that the young boy who appears in the photo montage is now a well-known television presenter.

Stefan Gates, of BBC2's Cooking In The Danger Zone, was just five when he and sister Sam were innocently snapped in the nude for the shoot on the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Stefan, 40, has travelled to some of the world's most dangerous regions fronting his show. But the photoshoot over ten rainy days in County Antrim remains prominent in his mind. He had followed Sam, now 42, into child modelling after she was spotted by a talent scout. They posed together for knitwear patterns and appeared separately in commercials and TV dramas, including Poldark.

Stefan said: "We only got a few quid for the modelling and the chance to travel to places we had never been before.Our family wasn't well off, we certainly couldn't afford holidays, so it worked out great for us. For the Zeppelin cover we went to Ireland during the Troubles. I remember arriving at the airport and seeing all these people with guns. We stayed in this little guest house near the Giant's Causeway and to capture the so-called magic light of dawn and dusk we'd shoot first thing in the morning and at night."

Stefan and Sam Gates on the album's cover, crawling over the Giant's Causeway in Ireland. Several multiple-exposure shots give the impression of lots of children.

"I've heard people saying they put wigs on several children. But there was only me and my sister and that's our real hair. I used to love being naked when I was that age so I didn't mind. I'd whip off my clothes at the drop of a hat and run around having a great time, so I was in my element. My sister was older so she was probably a bit more self-conscious."

There is endless debate among rock fans over the significance of the image.

While as said, Powell has claimed he was inspired by the science-fiction book Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke, in which children climb off the end of the world, Stefan is sceptical of all the theories about the artwork's meaning, including Powell's:

"In a lot of cases with graphical design work it's an evolving process and they think up the explanation later. I personally have no idea what it means. There's something about it though that is disturbing and haunting, perhaps more so because I am in it." (Daily Mail)

In 1974 the album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best album package. The cover was rated #6 on VH1's 50 Greatest Album Covers in 2003.

Jimmy Page has stated that the album cover was actually the second version submitted by Hipgnosis. The first, by artist Storm Thorgerson, featured an electric green tennis court with a tennis racquet on it. Furious that Thorgerson was implying their music sounded like a "racket", the band fired him and hired Powell in his place. Thorgerson did, however, go on to produce the album artwork for Led Zeppelin's subsequent albums Presence and In Through the Out Door.

This is "The Song Remains The Same" from the album:

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This entry was posted on Thursday, 15 January 2009 at Thursday, January 15, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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