Houses of the Holy was almost the final Led Zeppelin album. In late 1973, after that year's lengthy and enriching U.S. tour, Jones was weary of traveling and wanted to spend more time with his family. He told the band he was quitting to become a choirmaster, which is pretty much the exact opposite of being a member of Led Zeppelin. Everything halted, and the band announced that Jones was ill, which may have seemed like the only plausible reason someone would resign from the band. Then Jones changed his mind, and "it was never discussed again," manager Peter Grant said.
In early 1974, the foursome returned to Headley Grange. They were the most popular rock band in the world, and they needed a document of their heft: They settled on a dou- ble album, which had become the hallmark of rock grandeur. "What we talk about is creating something as notable as Beethoven's Fifth," Plant said boldly at the time, and he imagined a record "so mammoth that it would last forever."
Plant names Physical Graffiti as his favorite Zeppelin album, and "Kashmir" as "the definitive Led Zeppelin song," because it expresses "the travels and explorations that Page and I went on to far climes well off the beaten track." On another occasion, he said wistfully, "I wish we were remembered for 'Kashmir' more than 'Stairway to Heaven.'" Many Zeppelin fans wouldn't disagree.
– Rob Tannenbaum