The Sunset Strip, circa 1967. A pioneering billboard featuring the Doors, then just a local band, is unveiled above the historic Château Marmont. Buffalo Springfield calls it right: “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-than-life, hand-painted homages to rock: billboards.
In Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip, author/photographer Robert Landau showcases these signs of the time, a time when rock was the most important music ever recorded, when youth, politics, and art merged to turn counterculture into mainstream culture. Inspired by the art 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, and designers 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, he tells it like it was, through the people who lived and loved the music, the time, the energy…and the billboards.
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 most recent, digitized and computer-rendered versions, Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip has it all. See Cher when she went solo, or the Beatles crossing Abbey Road; Lady Gaga’s mother monster persona and Randy Newman’s cheeky parodies high above the Boulevard.
With Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip, Landau has created a bound museum of the unforgettable era’s best artwork, a gallery that shows 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).
For more information visit http://www.rockandrollbillboards.com/