A sultry Cher in a winged Valkyrie helmet. An ultra laidback Marvin Gaye offset by a T.S. Eliot quote about birth, copulation, and death. An emaciated, half-human/half-canine David Bowie. These are just a few of the bizarre masterpieces that photographer Robert Landau captures in his new book Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip, which comes out this month.
Let theorists and art snobs dismiss advertising as a lesser genre. The pure visual pleasure of these larger than life billboards, many of them handpainted, is undeniable. Advertising is, after all, meant to entice. Landau’s book does the same. Packed with 140 splashy, full color photos of billboards from the 1960s and ‘70s, Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards is interspersed with anecdotes that chronicle the Sunset Strip’s as the nexus of L.A.’s rock and roll scene. If that’s too much history, you can just ogle the freaky photos of everyone from Yes and Pink Floyd to John Lennon and Randy Newman.