Facebook Has Banned Led Zeppelin’s ‘Houses of the Holy’ Artwork
UPDATE: The ban on this cover image has been reversed. Click here to read our exclusive report.
Facebook has banned Led Zeppelin's Grammy-nominated cover for 1973's Houses of the Holy. The artwork, taken by Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis, is a collage of nude images from a photo shoot featuring two child models, Stefan and Samantha Gates.
"Since children as young as 13 years old use Instagram/Facebook and the app is available in third-party app stores, there are rules regarding nudity and solicitation that we have to follow," Facebook's Jessica Oda said in a take-down notice sent to UCR. "We place limitations on the display of this content to limit exposure of sensitive content."
The cover image from Led Zeppelin's 10-times platinum-selling fifth album has been paired with more than 30 UCR stories over the years. This is the first time Facebook has intervened. Oda said the post was "flagged by other members of the community. As a result, the content will likely be removed in the next couple hours for policy reasons." UCR voluntarily deleted the post in question, but not before it received almost 3,000 responses and nearly 500 comments.
Facebook added that "if the content is still live in 48 hours, it will automatically be deleted. Repeated violations may impact the page's ability to monetize."
Powell said his original image was an homage to Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End. "At the end of the book, all of Earth's children gather together to be taken off into space," Powell told Q Magazine in 2003. "I suggested we take a family to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland and photograph them climbing the octagonal steps there, so it looked like they were climbing up to be taken away. I decided to take a black-and-white photograph and hand tint it in the studio. I shot the children in various positions, then cut them out of the photos and made a collage."
They'd earlier considered an alternate location in sunny Peru, according to From A Whisper to a Scream: The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, and that might have been to their advantage: Difficulty in getting suitable lighting because of rainy conditions meant that the shoot in Northern Ireland dragged on for 10 days. The bills were piling up, but Led Zeppelin was riding high at the point – and manager Peter Grant made it clear that money was no object. "Money?" he replied, according to Mick Walls' When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin. "We don't fucking care about money. Just fucking do it!"
For their part, the Gates children were unfazed. "I used to love being naked when I was that age, so I didn't mind," Stefan Gates told the Daily Mail in 2007. "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." His sister Samantha added, "We were naked in a lot of the modeling shoots we did; nothing was thought of it back then. You probably couldn't get away with that now."
Houses of the Holy was nominated for a Grammy in the best-album package category in 1974, losing to the movie soundtrack for Who's Tommy; that image was created by Tom Wilkes and Craig Braun. Stefan Gates, who later hosted BBC2's Cooking In the Danger Zone, told the Daily Mail that he'd actually never listened to Led Zeppelin's record.
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