Observations: From 'Houses of the Holy' to the culinary danger-zone

He may have eaten sheep's testicles in Afghanistan and baby seal in the Arctic, but what has really traumatised Stefan Gates, presenter of BBC Two's Cooking in the Danger Zone, is the cover of Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, which was released in 1973 when Gates was just five years old. The ten blond juveniles in this cleverly constructed collage were in fact only two – Stefan Gates himself and his older sister, Samantha. It's an image that the now middle-aged food journalist describes as having "followed me around for my entire life. I am scared of it... and I do feel there is something bad in there."

Gates was too young to remember much about the shoot on the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland in November 1972. His Radio 4 programme, Stefan Gates' Cover Story, is his attempt to exorcise the childhood experience. Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey 'Po' Powell, known collectively as Hipgnosis, designed album covers for the Seventies rock aristocracy. Dark Side of the Moon is one of theirs, as is Animals. Houses of the Holy was the first of four for Led Zep.

Gates describes himself as "quite anxious" as he knocks on Powell's door in west London – a feeling I know was being reciprocated on the other side, because Powell is a neighbour of mine. "I was slightly apprehensive as well", he says."The last time I saw Stefan, he was this naked little boy on a rock. So I wasn't quite sure what to expect... some terrible confrontation perhaps. In fact the first thing he said to me was 'Oh, I expected you to be wearing a dirty old man's raincoat'..."

Powell is quick to stress the different attitudes of the time. "You couldn't possibly do that album cover now... But you've got to put this in the context of the time. I came out of the peace and love movement where everybody danced on acid and ran around naked."

The shoot took place over five cold, wet days. As if the poor light and driving sleet wasn't bad enough, they ran out of greasepaint to colour Stefan and Samantha gold and silver and resorted to using car spray paint. "Their mother was unaware until she saw us hastily washing it off with turps in the bath".

Powell sold the artwork back to Led Zep two years ago. "Look...", he says, passing a box of coasters embossed with his design for Dark Side of the Moon. "I also sold my artwork back to Pink Floyd and they've made beer mats out of it, which has pissed me off. Do these rock stars need the money?'" We agree that nobody is likely to make coasters out of Houses of the Holy. The cover's very content may actually be what keeps it sacred.

'Stefan Gates' Cover Story' is on Radio 4 on Saturday at 10.30am

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week