UFO, Obsession, 1978
I love everything about these remarkable advertisements, all of which were on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles between 1967 and 1981. We have photographer Robert Landau to thank for these pictures, as his collection represents the best available resource about them. Last year he came out with a very pretty book called Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip.
According to Landau, it wasn’t until 1967 that the music industry ventured into billboards to advertise new rock albums. The first rock billboard was for the Doors’ first album. As we can see here, other acts had billboards by 1967, so it must have caught on quickly.
“When I went out to explore the world,” says Landau. “I felt the Strip was like a gallery; there were these hand-painted works of art on the street. ... They looked like giant art pieces that kind of represented my generation and the music I listened to.”
“At one time, L.A. just felt a lot funkier. It felt more Western, and ... people could come here and do whatever they want. To a degree, that created a lot of chaos, but there was something about that freedom that allowed people to do fun things,” he says. “Things were a little quirkier back then. There was a bit more of a personal feel to the environment.”
A few notes about the pictures below. The ELO billboard is noteworthy because of the custom-made plexiglass neon space station, based on John Kosh’s logo for the band, which cost $50,000. Obviously, the Abbey Road billboard pictured here was defaced by some Beatlemaniac, which is why Paul’s head isn’t there. My favorite billboard of the bunch (and Landau’s too) is the remarkable one for the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Tommy from 1972; the billboard features no text whatsoever, just those creepy sci-fi eyes staring out at you. So ballsy!
Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother, 1970
Cocker Is Coming
10cc, Deceptive Bends, 1977
Joni Mitchell, Blue, 1971
The Knack, Round Trip, 1981
Jimi Hendrix, Axis: Bold as Love, 1967
Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Zuma, 1975
London Symphony Orchestra, Tommy, 1972
ELO, Out of the Blue, 1977
Many more billboards plus a video, after the jump….