The Sunset Strip, circa 1967. A pioneering hand-painted billboard featuring the Doors, then just a local band, is unveiled in front of the historic Château Marmont. Buffalo Springfield calls it right in their anthemic song “For What its Worth”: “There’s something happening here…what it is ain’t exactly clear.” What was happening then is now absolutely clear: rock ’n’ roll and the kids who lived it were coming of age—right there on the Sunset Strip. And, as if to define the era, a few independent minds in the music industry posted giant, temporary monuments that said it all. Larger-
The billboards themselves are a collaborative art form, dreamed up and brought to life at the hands of photographers, illustrators, painters, art directors, producers, designers, and of course, the musicians themselves. From that earliest Doors billboard – a hand-painted testament of what was to come—to the artwork created by Hollywood and London’s top graphic designers, Rock ’n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip has it all. See the most iconic bands of the British Invasion strut their style above the Strip; the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, Procol Harum’s hallucinogenic posters, and the progression of the Pink Floyd wall. Witness the transformative arc as rock ’n’ roll made its own statement, how John and Yoko, George, Ringo, and Paul ventured into individual stardom, and how the Stone’s billboard was so misogynistic that it had to go—but not before it made international headlines.
Inspired by the hand-painted billboards in his Hollywood neighborhood, Landau grabbed his camera and began shooting, a kid destined to be a professional photographer.
Decades later, Landau rediscovered his Kodachromes, the only extensive collection of photographs that document those iconic billboards. Impassioned, he set out to document the history of this unique art form, interviewing the artists, record producers, designers, and painters who shaped those placards to bring fresh insight to not only the collaborative process, but also the culture of the day and its lasting impact on the world. Rock ’n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip shows that impact in effect through the images advertising both American as well as British and international musicians. Landau tells it like it was, through the people who lived and loved the music, the time, the energy…and the billboards.
A must for every rock lover, art historian, Pop-Art aficionado, design fan, and socio-culture freak, Rock ’n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip, is a bound museum of the unforgettable era’s best artwork, a gallery that shows the local and international influence on what was happening there, on the Sunset Strip.
Photographer ROBERT LANDAU was born and raised in Los Angeles and has spent the better part of his life documenting various aspects of his native city. Beginning with the Sunset Strip billboards in the Seventies, Landau has compiled a vast archive of images depicting the unique characteristics of L.A.’s urban landscape and reflecting the city’s offbeat character. Rock ’n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip marks Landau’s fifth book; previous works include Outrageous L.A. (1984) and Hollywood Poolside (1997).
Rock ’n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip
208 pages; hardcover / 250 + images / 12” x10”
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