Rock and Roll “HOUSES”

by | Jan 3, 2023 | Uncategorized

Why did Led Zeppelin choose the Childhood’s End theme for the cover of Houses of the Holy?

By Rocci Disopa

It started in 1972.

Led Zeppelin was on top of the Rock World, generating huge amounts of cash and selling albums and concert tickets like nobody had ever seen before. They were still on the crest of 1971’s Runes album, better known as Led Zeppelin IV, which by now was well on its way to being one of the best selling LP’s of all-time! The band approached Hipgnosis, better known as artists Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, to do the cover design for the forthcoming album which would be called “Houses Of The Holy”. They were not given any creative direction or hints at what any of the tracks sounded like.

Powell had felt that Zeppelin exuded a dark, mystical side to them, which went along with all the glamour and glitz. He first followed an old Arthur C. Clarke paperback from 1953 called “Childhood’s End”, in which all the children of the world come together and depart the earth. The band and manager Peter Grant liked the idea, so the Hipgnosis team got a “family” of models together, adults and children, and went to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland for the shoot. The Causeway is a natural rock formation caused by rapidly cooling volcanic rock, forced up through the sea. It is quite a spectacular spot and the source of much Irish folklore. After a week of terrible, wet, non-compliant weather, it was decided to use the naked photos of only the children.

The picture was collaged together and originally shot in black and white. The team then went back to the studio and hand tinted the photo. At some point, it dawned on them that it had an otherworldly quality to it. The picture had a natural beauty and ethereal vibe to it and they went with it. “Houses Of The Holy” is considered one of the best album covers in the Rock era.

Rick Stowell