Main        |      Studio and Live Gear|News|Contact
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."
ADVERTISEMENTS

Rick's Cool Collectibles

Rick's Cool Collectibles is a memorabilia mail order company serving collectors worldwide! Since 1979 the name Rick Barrett has been associated with quality collectibles including rare concert & event tickets and stubs, Led Zeppelin memorabilia, select music & sports memorabilia, stamps, coins, old postcards, and more!

This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

February 07, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
© 1996 - 2019 Led Zeppelin: Achilles Last Stand - All Rights Reserved
Advertise | Disclaimer | Site Map