Entertainment

The Sunset Strip's most iconic rock and roll billboards
In rock and roll's heyday, you knew you made it when your face was plastered on a giant billboard overlooking Hollywood's always busy Sunset Strip. Photographer Robert Landau documented some of the most iconic in his book, "Rock 'N' Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip," on display at the West Hollywood Library through October.

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Beatles, "Abbey Road", 1969

"Abbey Road" was the Beatles' last collective studio album, but it was the first to get a billboard on the Sunset Strip. The Beatles were so universally well known that no advertising copy was required. The four famous heads were designed to extend above the 14 by 48 foot billboard frame to stand out against the blue California sky.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

Beatles_billboard

Beatles minus Paul’s head, 1969

Amidst wide spread and unfounded rumors in late 1969 that Paul McCartney had mysteriously died, someone mischievously removed the famous Beatles hand-painted plywood head from its perch extending above the Abbey Road billboard frame.

(Robert Landau)

(c)Robert Landau

Paul_s_Head_found

Paul’s head found 43 years later, 2012

Upon publication of the book “Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip,” author /photographer Robert Landau offered a free signed copy of the book in exchange for information leading to the missing head. Robert Quinn, now in his sixties, who had taken the head as a teenager, came forward to claim the prize. Paul’s head now hangs proudly in Quinn’s San Fernando Valley home.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

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The Sunset Strip, 1979

This view looking east on Sunset Boulevard shows how the music industry dominated the Sunset Strip billboards throughout the 1970s.  However, by the mid 1980s as MTV established itself with a new generation of music fans, music marketing dollars were channeled into producing slick music videos and fashion advertising quickly and permanently replaced rockers on the Strip.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

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Tommy, London Symphony Orchestra, 1972

Lou Adler was one of a handful of independent record producers who really accelerated the art of Sunset Strip billboards throughout the 70s. This board is for an orchestral version of the Who’s rock opera Tommy, produced by Adler, that tells the story of a blind pinball wizard. Adler commissioned graphic artist Tom Wilkes to create this amazing photo-realist image of  chrome pinballs with eyes that glared down from the Strip for several weeks creating quite a buzz until the title of the project was finally added to the design.

(Robert Landau)

Robert Landau

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Crosby, Stills and Nash, 1977

In the 1970s rock stars left original '60s groups like the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies to create new super groups like Crosby, Stills and Nash, seen here harmonizing in the night sky above a record store called Licorice Pizza on the Strip across the street from the Whisky a Go Go.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

Springsteen_Graffiti_billboard

Bruce Springsteen, 1978

Bruce Springsteen eventually fessed up to the fact years later that he had led his E Street Band members on a late night foray to graffiti his own Sunset Strip billboard in 1978 because he was not pleased with how it looked.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

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Marvin Gaye, "Live", 1979

Marvin Gaye’s billboard lit up the night for a while at a key intersection above the Old World Restaurant across the street from Tower Records at the heart of the Sunset Strip. Certain billboard locations are better for viewing due to their visibility in long approaches as the traffic winds around the Strip, and this is one of the best.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

Pink_Floyd_billboard

Pink Floyd, "The Wall", 1979

This billboard originally appeared as a blank brick wall until slowly, over the span of several weeks, individual bricks were removed to promote a new Pink Floyd record at the time, "The Wall."

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

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Cher, 1979

Cher, who has reinvented herself throughout a long and successful career, appeared in some kind of butterfly inspired headgear for her record “Take me Home.”

(Robert Landau)

 

c Robert Landau

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Rod Stewart, 1977

By the mid 1970s,  having a Sunset Strip billboard rivaled appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone as a symbol of having “made it” in the music biz. The use of plywood extensions on this hand-painted billboard allowed for Rod Stewart and his shaggy hair style to tower over the Strip.

(Robert Landau)

Robert Landau

Tower_Records_billboard

Tower Records, Love Storm, 1977

Tower Records, located at the heart of the Strip among all the billboards, was more than a record store. It was a magnet, drawing music lovers from all over the city who would spend hours going through the racks and listening to the latest tracks. The building itself was covered with so many signs for the current LPs that it resembled a giant rock billboard gone amok.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

donna_summer_billboard

Donna Summer, 1978

Donna Summer was one of the bright stars of the Disco era that arrived in the late '70s and  kept urban nightclub crowds dancing their heads off to pulsating beats.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

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UFO, 1978

Many billboards for rock acts in the late '70s reflected a sci-fi aura as space-aged imagery resonated with a spaced-out audience seeking escapist fare.

(Robert Landau)

c Robert Landau

The Sunset Strip's most iconic rock and roll billboards

In rock and roll's heyday, you knew you made it when your face was plastered on a giant billboard overlooking Hollywood's always busy Sunset Strip. Photographer Robert Landau documented some of the most iconic in his book, "Rock 'N' Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip," on display at the West Hollywood Library through October.

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