Led Zeppelin History – Feb 15

Today in 1973 Led Zeppelin’s fifth album, Houses of the Holy, was to be released, but problems with the sleeve design pushed the release date back to March 23. The gatefold sleeve was designed by Hipgnosis, who had long provided striking album sleeve designs for Pink Floyd (Meddle, Atom Heart Mother, Dark Side of the Moon) and many others, including Argus by Wishbone Ash, which is said to be the impetus for Jimmy Page contacting them here. The initial design concept involved recreating their 4th album’s “zoso” logo on the Nazca plains of Peru, but that idea was scrapped for one based on the ending of the 1953 science fiction novel Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. The ending involves all the children of the earth climbing towards a special pinnacle, from which to depart for another world.

hoth-us

 

The concept was photographed at a natural basalt rock column formation in Northern Ireland called the Giant’s Causeway. Hipgnosis shot two children (real-life brother and sister Stefan and Samantha Gates) climbing naked up the rocks. Originally intended to be shot in color, 10 solid days of rain forced them to ultimately go with all black & white photos on the 11th day, and then hand-tint them in the studio.

 

When finally finished, Jimmy Page still had to fight with Atlantic for release, as this album, like the fourth, had no cover identification of the band or record label. They settled for a paper band around the midsection, stating the name of the group and the album title. Some early versions also had a sticker on the shrinkwrap. The paper band served a dual purpose in the US, as it was also designed to cover Samantha’s naked rear end. Even with the paper band, the album was still banned in some Bible-belt areas of the country for a few years…

 

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