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Sign O’ The Times… Rock’n’Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip ––A Documentary Film

Scheduled for Release in 2022 by Rugged Entertainment

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Jac Holzman, Peter Spirer and Robert Landau at interview shoot for SOTT doc in Santa Monica, CA Feb. 28, 2018

 

Sign O’ The Times… Rock’n’Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip

A Documentary Film Scheduled for Release in 2022, Rugged Entertainment

When 16-year old Robert Landau and his father moved a block from the Sunset Strip, he didn’t know anything about billboards. Catching sight of The Beatles’ Abbey Road billboard motivated him to grab his camera and take a few shots before the billboard vanished.

The year was 1969, and throughout the ‘ 70s and the early ‘ 80s, Landau continued to photograph many of these one-of-a-kind billboards lining the Strip and chronicling his rock heroes as they attempted to outdo each other with some of the most outrageous and creative billboards ever produced.

Beatles billboard for album Abbey Road on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.

The film, Sign O’ The Times, …evolved into an examination of outdoor advertising,
the past, present, and perhaps future aspects of the unique branding medium

Hand-painted rock’n’roll billboards, often based on iconic album cover art, became status symbols and negotiating points, and everyone from the Allman Brothers and Bowie, to Stevie Wonder and Frank Zappa, demanded to be represented on the Strip. In fact, to the Baby Boomers, who were inclined to shy away from anything that might appear overtly “commercial,” the billboards were seen as artistic and cool. As the 1980s rolled in and slick music videos for MTV emerged as the new must-have promotional tool for bands, the rock’n’roll billboard era met its demise.

Cover of Rock N Roll Billboards

Cut to present day. Landau’s book, Rock ’n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip (Angel City Press), was highly praised in The New York Times Review of Books. Steven Jurgensmeyer, a 30-year music industry Creative Director, who has designed CD covers for recording stars such as Ringo Starr, Carly Simon, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, had interviewed Robert about his book for http://www.allmusicbooks.com. Jurgensmeyer offered to set up a call to introduce Landau to Peter Spirer, an old friend and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker who lives a stone’s throw from the Sunset Strip. Spirer loved the idea, and the three began working on bringing the idea to the screen. Focusing on Landau’s collection of stills, they added archival and contemporary motion footage, and shot insightful new interviews with key insiders from the music industry. The film, entitled Sign O’ The Times, began as a tribute to a little-known period in the history of rock ‘n roll, but has since evolved into an examination of outdoor advertising, and the past, present, and perhaps future aspects of the unique branding medium. Along with Spirer, Landau and Jurgensmeyer, seasoned Producer Richard Spero and Veteran Music Executive George Steele III will produce.

 

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From the world of outdoor advertising they have interviewed industry insiders Rick Robinson, Jennifer Hurley, VP of Marketing Operations at Clear Channel, and Gino Sesto, founder of Dash Two Advertising. Master billboard painter Enrique Vidal, who worked at Foster and Kleiser in their heyday, talks about this unique skill set from an artist’s standpoint. From the world of rock music, they interviewed musicians Roger Daltrey of The Who, Robby Krieger of t he Doors, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo, Johnny Echols of Love, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, and were fortunate to film Eddie Money’s last interview.

Rugged is currently looking for strategic partners to help finish this project
If you’d like to be a part of our team
and play a part in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please reach out to Rugged Entertainment at info@ruggedentertainment.com

Music executives and managers include Elektra Records Founder Jac Holzman, and Irving Azoff manager of The Eagles and many superstars, Jerry Moss from A&M Records, and Peter Asher, a musician and James Taylor’s manager. Included are the hidden stars of this period — the art directors and designers who dreamed up the imagery on the billboards: John Kosh who designed the Abbey Road album cover, John Van Hamersveld who created the cover for the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street and then adapted it into an eye- catching billboard, and Roland Young of Capitol and A&M Records, who reimagined Kosh’s Abbey Road cover as a billboard — all talk about how it all went down.

Robert Quinn with Paul McCartney head from Abbey Road billboard, Woodland Hills, CA Jan 2018

In true Hollywood lore, the Abbey Road billboard met some scandal, when Paul’s head mysteriously went missing, coinciding with the rumor that he was dead. Sign O’ The Times features an interview with Robert Quinn, who, as an 18th birthday prank back in 1969, was involved with removing Paul McCartney’s head, hanging on to the last surviving piece of the beautifully-crafted hand painted billboards to this day.

With these classic rock and roll stars, the historic Sunset Strip, outdoor advertising, art and design, this film has the potential to reach a large, multi-generational and varied audience, open to the idea of embracing a take on outdoor advertising that is genuine, joyous and positive. There is a finished rough cut, and the goal is to finalize and release Sign O’ The Times in 2022.

Rugged is currently looking for strategic partners to help us finish this project at the level it deserves. If you’d like to be a part of our team and play a part in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please reach out to Rugged Entertainment at info@ruggedentertainment.com

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2 Comments
  1. Randy J Jackson says

    I had the pleasure of meeting Robert when he first released this book. Whether in or out of the OOH industry, people find find this book engaging. I have given several copies away as client gifts, and all have received tremendous receptions. I fully recommend getting several copies to give away, and one to keep your yourself. Looking forward to the documentary’s release.

  2. Agreed Randy Great Book. Looks superior on the ol’ Coffee Table. Imagine the theatrical release, press and attention the movie might generate. Help us identify financial contributors to take this to the final stage.

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