Thank You Jake Phelps. R.I.P.

Jake Phelps, the editor of Thrasher Magazine for over a quarter of a century, passed away on March 14, 2019 at the age of 56. His contributions to the skateboarding community are veritably unparalleled and Jake’s love for skateboarding set the bar by challenging and inspiring skateboarders all over the world.

Phelps lived and loved the gritty reality of being a skateboarder and spent his life showcasing those whose contributions had gained his approval in the pages of the beloved mag.

Jake was born in California, and at age 11, moved to the East Coast and lived in Massachusetts where he got his first job working in the skateboarding community at Zero Gravity Skatepark.

Phelps returned to the West Coast in the early ’80s and made a home for himself in the guts of NorCal. Kevin Thatcher, the original Thrasher editor, gave Phelps his start by giving him an opportunity to write product reviews for the mag and then offered him a job working in the shipping department.

After catching the attention of Fausto Vitello (R.I.P.), founder of Thrasher, along with co-founder Eric Swenson (R.I.P.), Phelps rose to the top where he carried on and cemented the Thrasher legacy, after taking over as editor in 1993.

Jake Phelps roll in at the C Pool – Photo by Frank Lannon – Wrecka Archives…

Thrasher Magazine, which began in 1981 is widely recognized as the “bible of skateboarding” and Phelps’ vast knowledge of skateboarding and his sarcastic sense of humor contributed a vital viewpoint.

As Steve Olson, legendary skateboarder and Skateboarding Hall of Famer, put it, “If Thrasher is the bible of skateboarding, then God just died.” Olson, a long time friend of Phelps, also said, “I will celebrate my friendship with Jake and remember him for how funny, awesome and nuts he was, especially his love for skateboarding.”

Our condolences and love go out to the Thrasher Magazine family and all of Jake’s friends, family and loved ones…

Thank you, Jake, for your eternal love for skateboarding and for everything you did to stay true to its core. Long live Thrasher Magazine. Rest in peace Phelper… ❤️

“Having fun with your friends is what makes you the person you are.” – Jake Phelps

Jake Phelps. 1962-2019…

We share these words by Tony Vitello, posted on the Thrasher Magazine website, in tribute to Jake…

“Jake Phelps was 100% skateboarder, but that label sells him way too short, because beyond his enormous influence in our world, he was truly an individual beyond this world. When loved ones pass we sometimes mythologize about their full lives rich in friendships and experiences. Sometimes we need to talk ourselves into believing it all. It makes us feel better, and helps us cope with the loss. Well, in the case of Jake, the task becomes wrapping your head around just how many lives one person could possibly live. He really did see it all, do it all, and that incredible brain of his could relish every last detail.

But most of you reading this now identified primarily with Jake Phelps the skateboarder, and editor of our magazine, so I will leave you with this truth – I never met anybody who loves anything more than Jake worshipped skateboarding. Just as we need food and water to survive, Jake needed skateboarding to keep his blood pumping. It was more than a hobby or form of transportation or way of life – it was his oxygen. Here’s another thing. Jake never bailed. Jake fucking slammed. And there is a big difference. He only knew commitment. He was going to go for it without hesitation, and there were only two outcomes. Either you’d see his triumphant fist pumping in the air or it’d be an earth-shaking collision with the concrete. I remember him telling me once that he never fell backwards, he always fell forward. Leaning back meant there was hesitation, and Jake was all the way IN.

There was no myth. The man was the myth. We love you, Jake.”

– Tony Vitello

1 comment

  • Dave Tobin March 20, 2019

    My worst head- on collision in my 47 years riding a SkateBoard was with Jake. After the stars cleared I hobbled to find my board. There it was right next to me. I grabbed it in my hands while focusing on the person I collided with. He was just picking up his thick rimmed glasses when he came over to me and put his hand out, not to shake it but to retrieve his board which I mistakenly thought was mine. As I gave it to him he barked out really load ” Asshole”. I was like how dare him call me that at the spot which I decided to call home. Well that was Jake and to this day I’m glad he said it first. A true: My wave My park don’t screw with my run hardcore mother effer. I’ll never forget it. I felt close to him even though didn’t know him well. My connection with growing up in California and moving out East at age 11 was very close to my Skate life. I keep hearing other stories about how he butted heads with people but you know what, we skate and that’s what makes us, shapes us, we know no other way. We’re in it cause we are what we do. People will always have their opinions but we have each other. She’s all ways in my car. I still hate walking, rather skate. It will never end. I came out and finally said I will miss him.
    — Dave Tobin


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