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Mystery of Houses of the Holy Album Cover Solved
Led Zeppelin's surreal cover for their Houses Of The Holy album, featuring golden-haired children crawling across an apocalyptic landscape, is one of the most iconic images in rock history.

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.

Mystery of Houses of the Holy Album Cover Solved
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.

His role is revealed as Led Zeppelin prepare for their historic reunion concert at London's O2 arena tomorrow night – which has seen one million fans battle for 20,000 tickets.

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.

Mystery of Houses of the Holy Album Cover Solved
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.


"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."


Mystery of Houses of the Holy Album Cover Solved
The cover art was the brainchild of Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson of legendary album-sleeve designers Hipgnosis. They took several multiple-exposure shots of Stefan and Sam to create the image of more children clambering over the rocks.

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

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 – who lives in North London with wife Georgia and daughters Daisy, four, and Poppy, two – is sceptical of all the theories about the artwork's meaning, including Powell's.

He said: "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."


Although a fan of Led Zeppelin, Stefan confesses he has never listened to Houses Of The Holy, which was released in 1973.

Mystery of Houses of the Holy Album Cover Solved
"It carries too much significance for me," he said. "A part of me wants to go out to the Giant's Causeway with a big pair of speakers, strip naked and play it just to see if I have some kind of great epiphany."

Sam moved to Cape Town, South Africa, four years ago with husband Andrew Hamilton Barr and they have a daughter, Tallulah.

The screenwriter, who also features on the inside sleeve as the child being sacrificed at the top of a mountain, said: "I remember the shoot really clearly, mainly because it was freezing cold and rained the whole time.

"We were naked in a lot of the modelling shoots we did, nothing was thought of it back then. You probably couldn't get away with that now."


Stefan has just finished filming the third series of Cooking In The Danger Zone, which included a visit to Palestine.

He believes shooting the album cover 35 years ago has subconsciously played a huge role in his life.

He said: "Although it's just my naked behind you can see, perhaps being a part of something like that at a young age made me seek out more ambitious and adventurous experiences."
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

November 21, 1968 - Robert becomes a father to a baby girl named Carmen Jane.
November 09, 1968 - Robert marries Maureen in London. Their reception is a performance at the Roundhouse in London
November xx, 1969 - Tempers flare over Atlantic in the UK wanting to release singles
November xx, 1969 - Recording for Led Zeppelin III begins at Olympic Studios in London
November xx, 1970 - Plans are in motion for a Yardbirds reunion
November 08, 1971 - Finally after much anticipation, Untitled is released
November xx, 1972 - Houses Of The Holy is mixed and completed
November 10, 1972 - Led Zeppelin sell out 120,000 tickets in one day
November xx, 1973 - Initial recordings for Physical Graffiti commences at Headley Grange
November 04, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finalize the purchase of Headley Grange to be their new corporate headquarters
November xx, 1974 - The band makes plans and rehearses for the tenth North American tour
November xx, 1975 - Led Zeppelin records Presence in a mere 18 days
November xx, 1976 - Led Zeppelin book into Ezyhire Studios to rehearse new material for an upcoming tour
November 04, 1976 - The Song Remains The Same movie premieres in Europe
November xx, 1977 - Jimmy dispells rumors of Led Zeppelin’s break up
November 06, 1978 - Led Zeppelin purchase and ship new gear to Polar Studios to begin work on a new album
November 10, 1979 - Led Zeppelin and their entire entourage attend an ABBA concert
November 07, 1980 - The band meets with Peter Grant to announce the retirement of Led Zeppelin
November 29, 1999 - The RIAA announced that Led Zeppelin were only the third act in music history to achieve four or more Diamond albums, a Diamond album being awarded for accredited sales of more than 10 million units in the US.
November 01, 2007 - An announcement was made that Jimmy Page had fractured his finger on his left hand after a fall in his garden and the reunion show would be postponed to December 10, 2007.
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