Jay Adams Surf Skate Style



“I’m not sure who the first skateboarders were or exactly where they were from, but I’m pretty sure they were surfers from Southern California. But, I wonder who the guy was that took a pair of roller skates apart, nailed them to a piece of wood and was the first to skateboard down the street. Did he call it a skateboard or sidewalk surfboard? I wonder if that first skater thought about the seed he planted, how big it would grow.

When I started skateboarding in the early ‘60s, all the guys who skated were surfers. Now this was Venice Beach and we had a beach to surf. And as early back as I can remember, Hobie and Makaha had skateboard teams. Although they didn’t have a pro division, they did demos, contests and appeared in movies. One of my earliest memories of skateboarding is the movie “SkaterDater” featuring the Hobie Team. Most of the Hobie guys were surfers from Santa Monica, Malibu, Pacific Palisades and they were the first to ride in empty swimming pools.

As for myself, my stepfather owned a surfboard rental stand underneath Pacific Ocean Park Pier right where Venice and Santa Monica connect. POP had excellent surf on both sides of the pier and it was also one of the most localized surf spots on this planet.

What I’m getting at was the attitude of the surfers in L.A. at the time. Surfing wasn’t like it is today. Your life was in danger at every spot you tried to surf at that you weren’t a local. Surfers were punk before punk rock. That attitude influenced the Dogtown movement and we carried it over into skateboarding. Before skateparks, we skated schools then pools. Pool riding consisted of first finding an empty or semi empty pool, then dealing with home owners and cops. Worst of all, too many skaters guaranteed an end to any pool, so localism began in skateboarding.

I consider Alva and myself, second generation skaters; Hobie guys being the first. The difference between us: an era of surfers. In the early ‘70s, surfing began to get more radical. Larry Bertlemann, Buttons and Mike Ho were the hot new kids ruling the surfing world and we copied their surfing styles.

Then came the big contest at Del Mar – the Bahne Cadillac. Most skateboarders at that time rode skateboards like people rode longboard surfboards. That was the difference between us and them; we skated like the new young Hawaiian surfers. We put our hands on the ground, did slides, bunny-hopped over things and did what I believe were the first airs in skateboarding, besides jumping off curbs and tables. The judges didn’t know what to think. The way people rode skateboards changed that day more than any other day in skate history.

We then took our style and adapted it to pool riding. Skateparks started popping up and conflicts arose about whose style was better. After skateparks entered the scene, guys like Steve Alba appeared. He, to me is one of the first new school skaters. New school being guys who never surfed; skated to skate. Old school is surfers who skated. Then skateboarding got a pro division and pretty soon egos went haywire. Everybody wanted to be the best. Then big companies got involved and tried to control the way skateboarders looked and rode.

Skateboarding no longer looked towards surfing as an influence. The new tricks invented had nothing to do with surfing. After skateparks died, ramps became popular and if it weren’t for some of the guys who grew up skating parks, surf style might have been completely forgotten. Pool riding went back to the backyards and kept a strong underground following and street skating became popular.

Nowadays skateboarding has nothing to do with surfing. Kids ollie before they carve. But with all the new concrete bowls and parks, surf style is back. Whichever way you choose to skate, new school or old school, just remember to hold your head high. Be proud to let everybody know you’re a skateboarder. And whatever you do, don’t start rollerblading. Remember our sport started by taking roller skates apart.”

100% Skateboarder 4 Life

– Jay Adams [circa 2000]

Jay’s surfskate style inspired a generation to get out there and slash away at whatever comes your way. Style is what our Skate/Surf culture is all about. Photo © Bill Sharp

R.I.P. Jay Boy…


The influence of surfing on skateboarding has been discussed since the beginning of both, yet we have now entered a new era, where skateboarding has returned the favor with its own unique influence on the surfing world. In order to get to the core of this cross over and to try to define the origins and current state and status of surf skate style, we’ve interviewed some of the most innovative skateboarders, surfers, artists, documentarians, photographers, filmmakers and musicians on the planet. In honor of the great, Shogo Kubo, who once said, “To me, style is everything…” welcome to our exploration of Surf Skate Style featuring interviews with Aaron Murray, Aaron Astorga, Abraham Paskowitz, Art Brewer, Bennett Harada, Brad Bowman, Brandon Cruz, Brian Brannon, Carter Slade, Chris Miller, Chris Strople, Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Craig Stecyk III, Darren Ho, Dave Tourje, David Hackett, Dennis Martinez, Dibi Fletcher, Don Redondo, Eric Britton, Garrett McNamara, Gerry Lopez, Glen E. Friedman, Greg Falk, Greg Galbraith, Greyson Fletcher, Herbie Fletcher, James O’Mahoney, Jef Hartsel, Jeff Ament, Jeff Divine, Jeff Ho, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Gray, John Van Hamersveld, Jonathan Paskowitz, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Kalani David, Keith Morris, Kirra Kehoe, Larry Bertlemann, Laura Thornhill, Lizzie Armanto, Marc Emond, Michael Denicola, Michael Early, Nano Nobrega, Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Neil Stratton, Norton Wisdom, Pat Bareis, Randy Katen, Ray Flores, Rob Nelson, Robert Trujillo, Scott Oster, Shane Allen, Shaun Tomson, Shota Kubo, Solo Scott, Stacy Peralta, Steve Alba, Steve Olson, Takuji Masuda, Terry Nails, Tim Curran, Tim Hendricks, Tim Kerr, Tom Groholski, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Zach Miller.


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