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10 SKATEBOARDERS WHO INSPIRED FUTURE GENERATIONS BY BRENDAN MCCABE
Ever since the skateboard was first introduced back in the 1950â€™s, people have been creating and discovering innovative new ways to use it. As time went on, it became increasingly clearer that this 4 wheeled plank of wood had more potential than originally expected, and the tricks people were willing to attempt got more and more gnarley and impressive. The many discoveries of what is possible to achieve on a skateboard can be credited to a counterculture of ballsy visionaries and creative rebels, set on pushing skateboarding to its limits, and enduring a lot of physical damage in the process. All of the skaters featured in this book are postZ-boys skateboarding pioneers (80â€™s-early 90â€™s), whose irreppressible dedication and love for the pure creative expression of this individualized sport has earned them a special spot in skateboarding history.
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
RODNEY MULLEN MARK GONZALES NATAS KAUPAS TONY HAWK CHRISTIAN HOSOI DANNY WAY LANCE MOUNTAIN NEIL BLENDER MATT HENSLEY JASON LEE
“I fell in love with skateboarding because it was individual; there were no teams, there were no captains, there was nothing to perfect. No style that had to be measured. It was completely opposite of what I saw in so many sports. It was creative. And to this day, that’s what I love, that’s always kept me back to it because it’s endless creation.”
“MUTT” “The Godfather of skateboarding”
Rodney Mullen is arguably the most influential figure in the advancement toward modern skateboarding. Mullen invented an obscene amount of tricks including the flatground Ollie, Kickflip, Heelflip, 360-flip, Darkslide, Impossible, and many more. All of the tricks Rodney came up with defied what most people thought was possible on a skateboard, and without the invention of many of these tricks, skateboarding could never have reached its current state of unbelievable complexity.
At the age of 12 Mullen was picked up by Powell & Peralta’s team of youth skateboarders, “Bones Brigade” where he skated alongside other future legends including Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, and Steve Caballero. Rodney has been sponsored by many skate companies throughout his career and co-founded a fair amount as well including World Industries with Steve Rocco, Enjoi Skateboarding with Marc Johnson, and finally, almost skateboards with Daewon Song.
Growing up on the flat plains of Gainesville, FL, Mullen didn’t have much access to steep hills and other types of terrain that California skaters like those on the Zephyr team were skating, so at the age of 10 when he got his first skateboard, Rodney began to develop his own completely unique style of skateboarding.
Although Rodney doesn’t put out new skate videos, he .continues to skate on an every day basis, and prefers to go skating late at night/ early in the morning while the rest of the city is asleep. Recently Rodney did a TED talk, discussing the positive effects skateboarding has on a persons creativity.
GODZILLA RAIL FLIP (1979) 540-DEGREE SHOVE-IT (1979) 50/50 SARAN WRAP (1979) 50/50 CASPER (1980) HELIPOP (1980) FLATGROUND OLLIE (1981) GAZELLE FLIP (1981) NO-HANDED 50/50 (1981) KICK FLIP (1982) HEEL FLIP (1982) IMPOSSIBLE (1982) SIDEWINDER (1983) 360 FLIP (1983) 360 PRESSURE FLIP (1983) CASPER 360 FLIP (1983) HALF-CAB KICK FLIP (1983) 50/50 SIDEWINDER (1983) ONE-FOOTED OLLIE (1984) BACKSIDE 180 FLIP (1984) REVERSE COWGIRL (1985)
1977 Wins first freestyle contest he enters
1980 Joins Powell-Peralta Bones Brigade
1987 Co-founds World Industries with Steve Rocoo
1995 Starts Enjoi Skateboards with pro skater Marc Johnson
2000 Develops Tensor Skateboards
2003 Starts Almost Skateboards with pro skater Daewon Song
OLLIE NOSEBONE (1986) OLLIE FINGER FLIP (1986) AIRWALK (1986) FRONTSIDE HEEL FLIP SHOVE-IT (1988) SWITCHSTANCE 360 FLIP (1990) HELIPOP HEEL FLIP (1990) KICK FLIP UNDER FLIP (1992) CASPER SLIDE (1992) HALF FLIP DARKSLIDE (1992)
“Gonz is the most influential skater of all times, no question. Mark Gonzales created
how to street skate, for doing handrails and things that no one has ever done. When people were doing a boardslide on the rail and people thought that was super crazy, he was doing 180 nosegrinds and 180 fakie 50-50s. The best and most technical skater today doing the hardest tricks beyond what anyone could think of is not doing what Gonz was doing then. It’s just not the same. He was an alien or something.” Andrew Reynolds
“Mark Gonzales is infamously known for thinking outside
Mark Gonzales, also known as “The Gonz”, is a professional skateboarder and artist. He is known amongst the skateboarding world as the pioneer of street skating, which is currently skateboarding’s most popular form. Gonzales arrived on the skateboarding scene at fifteen with a more modern approach to street skating and made the cover of Thrasher Magazine’s November 1984 issue, riding a board from Alva, with which he was sponsored at the time. He was soon to be picked up for sponsorship by a new company with big ideas called Vision Skateboards.
of the box. He has the gift of turning his imagination into a reality on his board. His life off the board is just as free and wild. He is why we will always believe skateboarding is a form of art.” Guy Mariano
In 1986, the first major gap was cleared with Gonzales’s ollie at Embarcadero in San Francisco (Thrasher, September ‘86). So historical was this incident for skateboarding, it became forever known as the “Gonz Gap” and helped make Embarcadero a popular location for skaters. Also in 1986, Gonz, together with Natas Kaupas, was the first person to skate handrails, thus cementing his contribution to street skating’s early to intermediate stages. He became one of the first people to skate switch stance in 1987. Gonzales went on to further influence skateboarding as it modernized with the 1991 video Video Days, by Blind skateboards (a skateboard company he created around 1989). The name Blind was
an intentional slight to his old sponsor, Vision. In 1993, Gonzales was the first to kickflip his namesake, the Gonz Gap at Embaracadero. After leaving Blind Skateboards, Mark went on to start two new companies. The first company is ATM Click and the second being 60/40 Skateboards which is now out of business. Mark skated for Real Skateboards before launching Krooked Skateboards, another brand under Deluxe Distribution.
“If you skateboard, you cant be afraid to have people laugh at you.”
Gonzales has also established a parallel career as an artist, having shown at the Alleged Gallery in New York and various galleries worldwide. He recently had an exhibit featuring collaborative works with Christian Hosoi at The Journal gallery in New York City. He also designs ‘Gonzo Cuntry’ clothing line and T-shirts for UARM. Some of his fans include Donald Trump and Sean Combs.
â€œThe possibilities that the Ollie brought were so exciting that it was hard to sleep sometimes.â€?
03 Natas (left) and Gonz (right) after thrifting back in the 80’s
Being brought up in the infamous Santa Monica surf slum, Dogtown, it is no surprise to find that Natas Kaupas began skating early on in his childhood. In 1983 Kaupas won a local Santa Monica surfing contest and received a Santa Monica Airlines (SMA) skateboard as a first place prize. SMA was operated out of the back of a surf shop owned by Skip Engblom. Kaupas approached Engblom about becoming a member of his skate team, which did not exist. Engblom was impressed with Kaupas’s skating ability and offered to sponsor him. Kaupas by his own admission remained clueless and uninterested in the mainstream skateboard subculture. He honed his street skateboarding skills by utilizing his surroundings, preferring not to ride ramps or parks. By the mid 1980s, Kaupas had discovered riding walls where he would throw his skateboard up against a wall and ride off of it. He then perfected this trick by riding up the side of walls without using his hands.In 1984 Thrasher Magazine photographer
NATAS K AUPAS
and skating commentator Craig Stecyk took a photo of Kaupas riding off a wall which featured on the cover of Thrasher Magazine’s September 1984 issue. With this cover photo, Kaupas began to receive more magazine coverage and recognition from professional skaters. Also in 1984, SMA released Kaupas’s first pro-model skateboard, which infamously featured a panther image drawn by Santa Monica artist Kevin Ancell. In 1987, Kaupas had his debut role in the Santa Cruz skateboarding video, Wheels of Fire. In the film, Kaupas displayed an ability to ollie which far surpassed anyone else, and his part is considered to have paved the way for the new direction of skateboarding. This role gave Kaupas a sudden jolt of notoriety, however attention was soon turned to the spelling of his first name as ‘Natas’ spelled backwards is ‘Satan’. Kaupas attempted to explain his name as being the masculine version of Lithuanian female name, ‘Natalia’. Despite this however, many schools and shops instituted a ban on any merchandise bearing the name ‘Natas’.
influenced by Kaupas. He was able to use his artistic talents, which he later incorporated in SMA skateboard designs. Kaupas was regularly seen skating with such notables as Mark Gonzales, Julien Stranger and Jim Thiebaud and was one of the leading pioneers in what would come to be known as ‘street skating’. Kaupas and Gonzales innovated many new skateboarding tricks and ideas, the first of which was transferring Rodney Mullen’s kickflip from freestyle skating to street skating.
Later in 1987, Kaupas had become such a well-known figure that shoe company Etnies offered him his own pro model shoe, an entirely new concept in the skating world. The marketing and design of the shoe was
TONY HAWK As a kid, Tony Hawk was an intelligent, high-strung, and hyperactive-combination his mother once described as “challenging.” When he was nine, he received a skateboard from his older brother. That gift changed his life and gave him an outlet for all of his energy. It didn’t take long for Hawk to excel at skateboarding. By the age of 12, he got his first sponsor, Dogtown skateboards. Two years later, he became a professional skateboarder. Hawk was considered one of the top skateboarders in the world by the time he was 16 years old. In his 17-year professional career, he won more than 70 skateboarding contests, including gold medals at the 1995 and 1997 X-Games. However, all of his talent and success could not prevent Hawk from experiencing some rough times in the early 1990s. At this time, the popularity of skateboarding was waning as were his earnings. He had already spent much of his earlier winnings and almost went bankrupt. He started a skateboarding company, BirdHouse, with Per Welinder, another pro skateboarder. Their company struggled until the rise of extreme sports generated new interest in skateboarding. Hawk competed in the first Extreme Games—later simply called X Games—in 1995. He received a lot of media attention, becoming the best-known skateboarder in the world.
His ability to perform impressive stunts has helped fuel Hawk’s popularity. He has created amazing tricks, including the “900,” which calls for the skater rotate 900 degreesabout two and a half turns-in mid-air. Hawk was the first to successfully complete this move in competition at the 1999 X-Games. After this personal victory, he retired from competition. He still rides, gives skateboarding demonstrations, and devises new tricks-often at the custom-built ramp at his company’s warehouse. Besides his skateboarding business, he has a successful line of video games, skateboarding videos, and extreme sports tour called Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom HuckJam, which he started in 2002. Hawk also hosts a weekly radio program on the Sirius XM satellite radio station. In addition to running his various business ventures, Hawk has worked to help young people by creating more public skateboard parks. Through the Tony Hawk Foundation, he has provided grants and technical assistance for new parks, especially in lowincome areas. The foundation holds special events as well.
“I consider skateboarding an art form, a lifestyle and a sport”
CHRISTIAN HOSOI When you open up the Skateboard Dictionary and look up the word ‘style,’ no definition will be offered, only a photo of the ruler, Venice Beach, California’s own Christian Hosoi, high above the coping, halfway to the moon with his two hands firmly gripped on a rocket air, decked out in an 80s Technicolor rainbow of flare, eyes already fixated on the next wall and regardless of age or terrain preference you will instinctively know what the word means. Christian turned pro in 1981 and immediately changed what we thought was possible on a skateboard, redefining how even the most basic tricks are supposed to look. He exudes a natural style that has been mimicked many times but never replicated. Hosoi has been an ambassador for skateboarding for over three decades beginning with his early and meteoric rise to the pinnacles of success and stardom to his triumph over the eventual crash and burn which followed. Christian’s story makes him revered the world over. As a professional skateboarder in the 1980s, Hosoi reached legendary status dominating contests with his fluid style and big airs. An instant icon, fans called him “Christ” and lapped up his “Hammerhead” pro model to the tune of $250,000 a year in his peak. A man seemingly born to occupy the spotlight, Christian became one of the main faces of the fledgling sport.
“Hosoi was the rock star of that era” says fellow pro Lance Mountain, “I remember being with him in Europe one time and he had a whole entourage with him—like the whole Rocket team, and we were in a store where Hosoi was trying on leather jackets and it was taking forever. We’re all sitting in there waiting for him to pick one out or whatever and I got bored and went outside. A few minutes later, the whole crew walked out with white leather jackets. He bought one for everybody.” But on January 20, 2000 Hosoi’s high flight came crashing back down to earth, when he was arrested at Honolulu airport carrying almost a pound and a half of crystal methamphetamine in from Los Angeles. In a story well documented in skate circles via the internet and Thrasher magazine, Hosoi joined a small cadre of 80s professional skaters to have an all too public fall from grace. Christian was eventually convicted and sentenced to serve 10 years in prison, a fate that changed his life, in more ways than one.
“I wanna see somebody like Tony Hawk get paid a million dollars. He should be payed more. I think we all should be payed a lot more than we’re getting.” April ‘86
1986 Wins first contest he enters at 11 years old
1991 Named Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year
“I want to continue down the path of the unknown and find where the boundaries lie so that when I retire from skateboarding I know I went as far as I possibly could go with that. I don’t want to ever look back and regret not reaching the goals I wanted to reach.”
1997 Becomes first person to from helicopter onto a ramp
1997 Breaks the World Record for Biggest Air with a 12 foot kickflip
Danny way is the first and only person to ever jump the Great Wall of China on a skateboard. He did it four times too, and did three legit and distinct tricks over the 60-foot gap. Less than a month later, ankle still bruised and battered from the Great Wall slam, Danny returned to Los Angeles to win his second Big Air Gold Medal at X Games XI. Itâ€™s hard to believe Danny could even skate well enough a whole month later to take Gold at the X Games. He repeated Gold again in 2006, making three straight Golds in the Big Air event.
2005 Becomes first person to jump the Great Wall of Chine on a skateboard
2006 Becomes first to drop from top of guitar at Hard Rock Cafe and Casino (82 ft drop)
In April of 2006 Danny bomb dropped 82 feet from the top of the neon guitar outside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The feat earned Danny another world record: highest Bomb Drop. Wayâ€™s father passed away when he was just eight months old. His mom eventually re-married and it was his new step-father who turned Danny on to skating. At age six, Danny was regularly skating at the local skatepark and he won his first competition at 11 years old. Over the years he
2009 Breaks land speed record on a skateboard
skated for a number of different teams including Bones Brigade, H-Street, Blind and Plan B. Danny is currently busy filming a Plan B video part, and is in the process of putting together a full feature documentary about his life. It seems like everything Danny does is packed with evidence of astronomical progression, larger than life skateboarding, and unmatched talent.
LANCE MOUNTAIN Lance Mountain was born in Pasadena, California in 1964. When contests were the main judge of status in the skateboarding world, Mountain was a top competitor during street skating’s first phase, but he specialized at riding vert (on ramps and in pools), where he also regularly placed in the top five. Mountain was first sponsored by Variflex in 1981 before joining Powell-Peralta a year later. It was during his time with the latter that he formed a strong friendship with Stacy Peralta, the team leader and director of the Bones Brigade video series. Mountain gained further eminence when he won the Upland Turkey Shoot at Upland Skatepark in 1983, against tough competition from fellow team riders Steve Caballero,Mike McGill, and Tony Hawk. This was followed by Mountain acting as the backdrop of skateboarding’s first,
full length company video, The Bones Brigade Video Show, from 1984. In it, Mountain serves as the segue for all the vert and freestyle parts, as he skateboards around Los Angeles, showcasing street skating in its infancy as a legitimate discipline. In the early 1990’s, the skateboard industry went through a major shift as street skating gained prominence over vertical skateboarding—the popularity of the Bones Brigade faltered as the popularity of the next wave of skaters increased. Mountain left Powell-Peralta to launch his own skateboard company, “The Firm”, in 1991, with a team of notable skateboarders including Bob Burnquist, Ray Barbee, and Rodrigo Teixeira. On March 13, 2006, Mountain announced the end of The Firm As of October 2012, Mountain is sponsored by Flip Skateboards, Independent Trucks, Spitfire, Nike SB (announced on May 7, 2007), and Stüssy clothing. Mountain is often cited as one of the inventors of the fingerboards, back
in the late 70’s, fashioning out of cardboard, pencil erasers, and a disassembled Hot Wheels toy. It was featured in an article in Transworld Skateboarding Magazine as well as in the Powell Peralta video, Future Primitive. It was created as a fun do-it-yourself project, using kitchen sinks to emulate pool riding. It has since evolved into a major toy category selling multiple millions of units, most prominently under the Tech Deckbrand. He was the codesigner of the Independent Stage V truck, along with Steve Caballero. He is also the inventor of the eggplant and sadplant, and coinventor of the Gay Twist, along with Neil Blender.
Not only was Neil Blender a skateboarder, but in the early and mid 1980s, Neil was skateboarding. An artist, a creator, a laugher at people, a namer of tricks, he made skateboarding fun in the lean years before the industry boom of the late 80s. Blender is one of the most influential skateboarders of this time and he stood apart from others because of his artistic ability, individuality, and raw talent. He opened the door for the skater/artist, who, to this day, keep skateboarding as much a lifestyle as a sport. But change is constant, and to Neil’s dismay skateboarding’s
direction turned toward hot pink, then gigantic clothes, then hip-hop music, and Neil wasn’t having any part of it. Sometime in the late 80’s, he stepped away from the spotlight, but he didn’t abandon it completely, doing artwork and mind work for Ohio’s Alien Workshop, skateboarding on his own time, and probably laughing whenever possible. He has become an icon that many current skateboarders have aspired to emulate, but have been unable to match. He set many standards that skateboarders still adhere to today. Neil Blender’s first contribution was infusing art into the world of skateboarding. He was involved
in all different types of art, photography, painting and music. He was most recognized for his skateboard graphic designs. His original skateboard graphics are still sought after today. “Coffee Break,” (pictured on the top of this page) is one of his most renowned boards, with a graphic that has become iconic.
“Skateboarding doesn’t make you a skateboarder; not being able to stop skateboarding makes you a skateboarder.” Lance Mountain A
MATT HENSLEY Matt Hensley’s influence on skateboarding still stands strong today. Matt was an early mover and shaker in the early 1990’s and the effects of his style on modern day street skating is still apparent. Hensley, along with his contemporaries such as Ray Barbee, Mike Vallely, Natas, and Mark Gonzales took skateboarding to new levels of street tech with step hop tricks. Step hop, or the no comply, if you will, is the brainchild of Neil Blender. It is a no hands boneless. Now that credit has been given where credit is due we can get retrospective. H-Street Skateboards was home to Danny Way, Ron Allen, Matt Hensley, and others. Founded by Tony Magnusson the company was synonymous with progressive skateboarding. Their early videos included Shackle
Me Not and Hocus Pocus. Perhaps dated by todays’ stair set and railing standards these productions still warrant regular viewing. Remember how high Kien Lieu (the Donger) could ollie? Ron Allen’s ollie airwalks? And then there was Hensley. Cargo shorts. Biker Wallets. Mid top skateshoes. Ska. 180 no complies on flatground. We owe these things to the influence of Matt Hensley. OK. He did not invent ska. But with the mod style crew cut and the Doc Martens...I mean come on. When Matt skates he skates from the soul. This soulful love of skating is what has kept skaters such as Matt and Mike Vallely still kicking and rolling to this day. Hard Core from the soul skateboarding. Matt now plays the accordion in the Irish Punk band “Flogging Molly”
If you were a skater back in the late ‘80’s to early 1990’s you can remember at least one of your friends sporting the biker wallet. You may have even had one your damned self. Mid top skate shoes were unheard of. Airwalk high tops and Etnies high tops were often cut down to mid top or low cut shoes with the same hobby knife you would cut grip tape with. The first skater I can recall sporting some home cut mid tops was...Matt Hensley.
“Out of necessity we skated what we could.”
“I grew up skateboarding; it was fun. I didn’t think about money, I didn’t know how much professional skateboarders made. I just knew that if I became a professional skateboarder, I would achieve a lot and get to travel and do these great things.” From mutton chops to moustaches, Jason Lee remains one of the most beloved figures in skateboarding. It just so happens that we have to share him with the rest of the world. We couldn’t have been all that surprised at his success though. Every word he uttered in Video Days became an instant classic. Fact is, the camera loves him. And when you’re already blessed with one of the best styles in skateboarding, it’s not difficult to see where those two bona fide classic video parts of his came from.
and “Stereo Sounds Clothing”. In the early 1990s, Lee took his tricks in front of the camera, appearing in several music videos including one for the Sonic Youth song “100%”, directed by Spike Jonze. Lee got his first taste of straight acting the next year, when he turned up alongside Jonze as a teenage drug customer in Allison Anders’s 1993 picture, Mi vida loca.
I think it’s hard for the kids who weren’t around for Jason’s first goaround to really wrap their heads around just how good this dude was at skateboarding before he got into acting. So often this type of claim is made in hindsight. But make no mistake about it; Jason is one of the all-time greats. And to see him back at it, shredding full-force as Earl fans look on in disbelief, well, it’s like he’s all ours again. Born and raised in Southern California, Jason Lee took up skateboarding at age 13. By 18, he was on the professional skateboarding circuit, where he wowed legions of young fans and popularized a move invented by Rodney Mullen called the “360 flip”. Inspired to tap into the commercial aspect of the sport, Lee and a friend started the twin companies “Stereo Skateboards”
SOURCES: http://www.quickiwiki.com/en/Natas_Kaupas http://skateboarding.wikia.com/wiki/Mark_Gonzales http://www.biography.com/people/tony-hawk-40989 http://theindiespiritualist.com/2012/01/21/hosoi/ http://www.kidzworld.com/article/9411-danny-way-biography http://loarahighschool.blogspot.com/2012/09/neil-blender.html http://alreadybeendone.com/content/2011/08/10/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Lee
CONCLUSION Each of the skaters youâ€™ve just read about has had their own unique and significant impact on skateboarding, both as a culture and a sport. They all had different approaches to skating and brought different things to the table, but they also collectively shared the creative desire to try new things, and the courage to make their visions come to life. Without these skaters and their innovations, skateboarding would have never reached the point it is at today.
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