When billboards rocked

Photographer Robert Landau started documenting the billboards of LA’s Sunset Strip in the 1970s, and has published a book collecting together images of some of the most iconic LA billboards of the 70s and 80s…

Photographer Robert Landau started documenting the billboards of LA’s Sunset Strip in the 1970s, and has published a book collecting together images of some of the most iconic LA billboards of the 70s and 80s.

In his latest publication photographer Robert Landau recalls a time when rock ‘n’ roll billboards dominated LA’s Sunset Strip. Moving from the early 70s and into the late 80s, the book collects together images from some of the greats, including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.

Landau emphasises the level of craftsmanship that went into creating such huge billboards, with a team of illustrators, typographers, retouchers and painters – amongst others – responsible for getting the billboards ready for final installation. Outdoor advertising companies often employed artists to hand paint billboards, which were referred to as ‘spectaculars’. The book also documents some of the more extravagant creations, including ELO’s $50,000 billboard from 1977, which featured a custom-made neon space station.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip is published by Angel City Press, and can be purchased online here.

The Rolling Stones, 1977, by Robert Landau

Joe Cocker, 1969, by Robert Landau

Smokey Robinson, 1978, by Robert Landau

The Band, 1970, by Robert Landau

The Knack, 1981, by Robert Landau

This Electric Light Orchestra billboard, seen below, included a custom-made Plexiglas and neon space station, which was based on designer John Kosh’s logo for the band, and carried a price tag of $50,000.

ELO, 1977, by Robert Landau

Linda Ronstadt, 1978, by Robert Landau

Donna Summer, 1978, by Robert Landau

UFO, 1978, by Robert Landau

10CC, 1977, by Robert Landau

Joni Mitchell, 1971, by Robert Landau

This Beatles billboard, designed by Roland Young, used a cut-out extension of the band’s heads, which prompted a bit of thievery from an overeager Paul McCartney fan.

The Beatles, 1969, by Robert Landau

John Lennon, 1971, by Robert Landau

John Lennon, 1971, by Robert Landau

Blue Note Records, 1972, by Robert Landau

Pink Floyd, 1979, by Robert Landau

Pink Floyd, 1979, by Robert Landau


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  • “Cocker is coming on A&M Records”


  • Great display! I wish I’d ever lived in a city cool enough to advertise big artists on billboards – all we ever get in Ottawa is ads! Cool showcase.


  • These are awesome billboards, I remember some of these actually in the flesh! Mind you the best thing now is being able to look back on these wonderful designs and be inspired by them to make the next big thing. In a way building sites at http://www.reynoldsdigital.com is kind of like building the modern billboards. If in years to come someone is referencing my work I’ll be very proud indeed.

  • These are billboards that i would actually look at. John lennon is available so is yoko haha. But In North carolina rarely do I ever see a creatively done billboard.

  • JC

    Hopefully the documenting photographer credits (or attempted to credit) the *designers* (and illustrators and photographers) whose work is or is in these billboard designs!

  • A note from the author and photographer (Robert Landau): This book pays tribute to all the great designers, photographers , art directors and even the billboard painters who were responsible for this unique art form. I was fortunate to track down and speak with many of them for the book including Kosh (Abbey Road ), Roland Young (A&M Records), Gary Burden, John Van Hamersved, Norman Seeff and others. All of these folks are living in the Los Angeles vicinity.There is also a table in the book that attempts to credit all the artwork that appears in the book.

  • this would be an awesome meme …

  • john


  • wow! it reminds me also of the movie XANADU, the movie was crap but the guy worked in a studio where they created this kind of billboards, i found it so interesting at the time!

  • Jean Grogan

    …but who knocked Paul McCartney’s head off?

  • I miss these types of billboards. Stylish and cool – something that modern billboards seriously lack.

  • The band stage fright is the best one, really cool design.

  • Awesome. Would love to see them brought back. I wonder how much one of the originals here in mint condition would fetch for now.

  • love the way they use the format of the billboard but always bleed over the edges to make the image/logo stand out

  • mncedisi

    simply ideas – rock

  • These look amazing! don’t do them like this no more.

  • Very Creative Sign !!!

  • Tom


  • These are great!

    Pity the ones around me are rubbish.

    Bring great signs to Walthamstow :-)