Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP title 1
JP coverHe skated like he lived his life—fast, loose and always on the edge. Land or slam, Jake Phelps was 100% committed to skateboarding. Layback grind at the HP ramp. San Francisco, CA. March, 1986  /  Photo: Kanights

JP contents Jake in his cave. This vantage point meant you were about to get schooled, heckled or some incredible combination of both.  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 74 75 a"Behold... a man mystified by his own problems." The Dish, San Francisco. 1985

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP title 2
JP 76 77 8
JP 76 77 4
JP 76 77 9
JP 76 77 7Great Bay Skatepark, New Hampshire, 1977

JP 76 77 12 NEW Yy2Jake Phelps
was 100-percent 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.

JP 76 77 5
   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.

JP 76 77 Tv poolJake and Tony, 2018  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 76 77 6Little League. Jake is top row, second from left

JP 76 77 2
JP 76 77 12 NEW Yy1I actually heard about Jake before I met him. There was talk in the neighborhood about this tough little guy who had recently moved from California. When we finally ran into him I remember his entire vocabulary comprised of either, "I'm going to mash you," or "I'll push your face in." Pretty cool for Marblehead, MA, in 1974.
   This was right at the transition of skateboards going from loose ball bearings to wheels with sealed bearings. I can still see him riding up with new OJs that his dad sent him.
   Myself, Seanzo Murray, Tony Perez and Johnny Griff had been skating on and off for a year or two when Jake showed up. With the addition of Matt Dykeman and Rich Matsu we had the first skateboard crew, the Tuck Mongers.
   We rode everywhere around town looking for steep hills, steep driveways and the occasional dangerous ramp. Even then, Jake pushed harder, rode higher and screamed at us constantly. Throughout junior high and high school he was either sabotaging our every step or helping us out with the newest teen drama.
   In the 40-plus years I have been friends with Jake he has not let up—even for a minute. Skate hard, party hard, rocking out and laughing all the way. I don't think it's possible for someone to love skating more than he did. A true master at his life, he will be greatly missed by us all.

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP title 3
JP 78 79 fTaking the plunge at his beloved C-Bowl. Early 80s

JP 78 79 NI met Jake at the Zero Gravity skatepark in Cambridge in the Fall of 1977. There was a huge pipe at that park—15-foot transitions, no flatbottom. It was a formidable proving ground. The owner of the park was Bill Keane and he was from Marblehead, Jake's town, so he employed Jake and all of his buddies at the park. By the winter of '77 the sessions at the park were heavy, but the place only lasted about a year and a half. After that another indoor opened up in Malden but that was short-lived as well. When you have a local park it kind of keeps everyone together, connects crews that otherwise wouldn't really be friends. Jake and I weren't close at first but we became tight through attrition. As others quit, Jake and I continued to be consumed by our love for skating, and that brought us together—that and the Cambridge Pool. Jake was the first to ride over all three death boxes in the deep end at Cambridge, all in one run. There's a certain sequence you need to do it in and if you don't keep your speed through the first two boxes, you'll never make it over the west wall, which was the hardest one. It had the most vert on it and a really brutal kink in the transition.

JP 78 79 c
   One of my favorite Jake stories is the impetus for him moving back out to San Francisco. He'd been living on Queensberry Street in Boston and he and Kent Shiffman cooked up this scheme to make some beer money. There was this bar that had a steel cage in the back with these giant six-foot trash bags full of empty cans. Jake and Kent scaled the fence and stole a couple of the bags. There was only one place that would exchange that quantity of cans, the Star Market in Kenmore Square, but while they were in there two cops showed up. Kent immediately took off running with one of the cops in pursuit. Jake sized up the other cop and decided to slug him. He then took off running and hid under a dumpster overnight. He showed up at my place at 10 am the next day with one shoe on. He was telling me he had to make a run for it and move back out West. I gave him a pair of shoes—we were both 11.5—and he took off for SF. I think his dad had a house boat in the marina at the time and Jake crashed there for a little bit until he could find his own place.
   Jake was always the smartest guy in the room, but he also had that edge about him. He was at the forefront of all the punk rock/hardcore stuff, while I was more of a new waver. Over the years we both kept skating. I kept adding pads and protection to every part of my body to try and keep my body intact, while Jake just kept taking the hits like it was still 1977. We were different people, but our love for skateboarding brought us together and fueled our 40-plus years of friendship.

JP 78 79 h
JP 78 79 b
JP 78 79 eJ and Jake, Paris 2011  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 78 79 OI was packing up my drums outside the hardcore show. I had just finished playing with Deep Wound and Jake came up to me and said he liked my drumming. He was the scariest guy in the Boston hardcore scene so I was freaked out and psyched at the same time. We were young, highly anti-social country bumpkins from two hours west of Boston. It meant a lot that a key member of the scene had given me the thumbs up. We loved hardcore so much and knew that's where we wanted to be. Thanks for making us feel welcome, Jake.

JP 78 79 g
JP 78 79 a
JP 78 79 iTapped out at the Matsu’s ramp, late 70s

JP 78 79 MRichie Matsu got permission to have a ramp in his yard. His father, Naburo Matsu, mastercraftsman and engineer, designed the ramp (complete with excellent schematic!) and taught us how to build it. He showed us how to use chop and skill saws. We cut all the wood in the basement, then built a jig on the deck outside where after we had cut all the pieces, we assembled the struts, approximately 26 of them. This took us a long-ass time, but we learned how to do it. We put concrete blocks and leveled them according to Naburo's design, then we painted the plywood with special primer and coated it with epoxy paint to keep it weather-proofed. We all worked together to build it and we spent a lot of time at the Matsu's house for the next three years. The Matsu family put up with lots of complaints and harassment from their neighbors, but held their ground and we kept the ramp until we had outgrown it and moved on to riding other places. The ramp went from late '77 into 1980.

JP 78 79 d
   Jake worked on tricks harder than anybody. He learned everything first and then we all followed. Naburo designed the ramp decks to fold up for extra vert. When it was in low mode it had approximately eight inches of vert on each side. If you folded the decks up it had 3 feet of vert. We would learn tricks on the low side, but Jake always learned on the high side. By Richie's ramp days, the Jake show was in full effect. He rolled in first and demanded everyone else do it too. Skateboarding was very important to all of us and Jake was the best.

JP 78 79 IanI'm pretty sure Jake first came across my radar ‘cause he was part of the Boston Crew. I think the first time I met him was in January '82. SS Decontrol were playing a show here at HB Woodlawn High School and had driven overnight from Boston. I remember being woken up by the sound of boots quite early in the morning. My bedroom at Dischord House was right above the front door, so I was pretty aware of people coming and going. When I came downstairs I was met with all these shaved-head guys stomping the snow off their boots. It was the band and their crew and they looked pretty incredible. My recollection is that they were all dressed in black and a number of them had cut the sleeves off of their t-shirts and were wearing the sleeves as headbands. It was a sharp look and they looked like a bunch of tough guys, but they were nice kids and we had a great hang. The show itself ended up being a fairly infamous chapter in DC punk history. DC kids were pretty tough and certainly the dancing was enthusiastic, but the Boston guys were super aggressive. At one point it seemed like they targeted one guy and just started gleefully piling on top of him. Later I would learn that this was called, "pig piling" or something along those line. DC kids didn't do that kind of thing. I mean, there's no question that there was fighting going on—it was pretty common for fights to break out at shows in those days and DC people didn't shy away from it. But it was rare for someone to be targeted, especially for something like the length of their hair and locals were not happy about the "pig piling" stuff. They just thought it was fucked up. But I knew those Boston people and I understood that they were a little insane. In October of '82, Minor Threat played with SS Decontrol, Agnostic Front, Flag of Democracy and McRad in Camden, New Jersey. FOD and McRad were Philly bands, Agnostic Front were NYC, SSD was Boston and we were DC. It was something akin to the gathering of the Mid-Atlantic punk tribes. The show was happening in a little hall in a terrible neighborhood. Camden is just across the river from Philadelphia and it's pretty rough. We had gotten there kind of early and loaded our stuff in and I was out front hanging out and talking when I saw this black van roll up. Al from SSD had just bought a brand new van and had driven down from Boston with the band and what seemed like another five-or-six people. They pulled up out front and I walked out to talk to Al, who was driving. I was just saying hello when I heard a car coming towards us and I could tell by the sound that it was coming fast. There was plenty of room for him to go past us, but I yelled to these punk kids who were skateboarding in the street to get out of the way. I squeezed up as close to the van as I could to give the guy as wide a berth as possible, but it didn't matter because he just centered the car and hit the van head-on with me standing there. Apparently I went over the top of the car after he collided with the van, but I don't remember because I was knocked out. The van was totaled and a bunch of the Boston people got their heads smashed against the windshield.

JP 78 79 qPit mayhem during Minor Threat at Irving Plaza. Jake bottom left  /  Photo: Collins
   
   A couple of weeks before the Camden gig, SSD, Agnostic Front and Minor Threat played together at Irving Plaza in NYC. I'm pretty sure that the photo Jake used in his essay came from this show.
I'm sure Jake was with SS Decontrol at all of these shows, including when they played here in DC at a venue called The Chancellery. He was a memorable guy and definitely had style and attitude on the dance floor. All of those Boston guys would go hard out there, but Jake stood out. That night he made the mistake of messing with my brother Alec. There was an unspoken rule among the DC punks that Alec should never be touched and there was a little dust-up that night. A bunch of people jumped Jake and I think he kind of loved it.
   After a while, I didn't see much of Jake. The initial SSD crew kind of dissipated and he just fell off my radar. Some years later his name came up again when someone said that he was doing stuff with Thrasher. I thought that was so weird because I hadn't made the connection between him and skateboarding. Of course, in retrospect it makes sense considering his radical spirit, which I've always believed is at the very core of skateboarding.

JP 78 79 pqA
   I don't remember having any contact with him for many years, but at some point in the early 2000s I get a message, probably through email, that he was coming to DC and wanted to interview me. The phone rang one day when I was here at Dischord House and when I answered there was a pause and this gravelly voice asked to speak with me. I said, "This is Ian," and the person takes a longer pause and then said, "Is Ian there?" Once again, I said, "This is Ian." Then the voice responds, "This is Ian? Ian MacKaye? Why are talking like a fuckin' girl?" I said, "What!?" He says, "Why are you talking with a high voice? What's up with the gay voice?" I'm getting pissed and say, "Who the fuck is this?" He says, "This is Jake Phelps." I said, "Jake, what the fuck is wrong with you? Is this really the way you call people?" Without responding to the question he says, "Hey I'm coming to Washington soon and I want to interview you." Now I'm thinking that he is out of his fucking mind. I certainly have known and interacted with people like this, people who are so caught up in their own shit that they have trouble with normal interactions, but I wasn't pleased with his nonsense and said I wasn't sure if I was up for a chat. He was really pushing me to do it and was telling me that he really needed me in the mag. I told him that I might be able to make it down to the art show that he had come into town for, but it was going to be on the early side and that I might be up for doing the interview after we had a chance to meet up and get square. The truth is that I was pretty put off by his weirdness on the phone. He just seemed like he was amped up and maybe was working on a different angle that I just wasn't interested in. On the other hand, I'm generally open to doing interviews and I liked the Jake that I had crossed paths with in the past. So anyway, the next day, I went down to the gallery after having a series of communications with Jake, who was trying to get me to guarantee that I was going to be there. I wouldn't guarantee anything, but at the same time I wanted to see the show and went down. I let him know and ended up waiting around for him. After all that, he never showed up. And I remember being really struck by his decision to not come. I can only guess what was going on in his head that day, but it seems to me that he really was a margin walker, someone that walked on the edge of society.
   After he died, someone sent me a link to a video that he shot while he tore down the Dolores Park hill by himself in the middle of the night. I thought it was just so heavy and maybe that's just what life was like for him.
   Substances take a toll on the body and the mind, whether it's immediate or delayed, and if you engage in some form of self-destructive behavior, you're liable to carry on living self-destructively even if you stop whatever the behaviors were.

JP 78 79 pqB
   I remember when I was around 30—I'm 57 now so we're talking over 25 years ago—my mother told me how surprised she was by the number of funerals I had attended compared to her when she was the same age. I told her that I reckoned that it came with the territory in my line of work. Artists are usually tuned in to something that is un-packageable. There is a sensitivity to them, a rawness, a vulnerability at their root that allows them to see things differently. But it's this same openness that makes them more susceptible to infection. Because they are so sensitive, they are overwhelmed with the amount of information that is coming at them and that can lead to self-medication in one form or another, and that can be the sort of thing that ultimately takes them out. That's part of the deal.
   I would love to have been able to hang out with Jake that day at the art show, but I guess it just wasn't on the menu. It's more likely that it would have happened if he had just talked without the defensiveness at the beginning, but I guess that was his way of protecting himself. I mean, he could have just started it by saying hello and things probably would have gone a different way. When you put somebody on their heels you might find out that they just fucking walk away in the other direction. But that was his device, at least it was the day he called, and that's the way it goes.
   Still, I'm not mad at him. I respected him and thought that he cut a fine swath. Dude was memorable for sure. And I think he was like a lot of people, someone who lived sort of by their own—I don't want to say their own rules, but rather who lived responsively. It seemed like he responded to life in a way that wasn't always pretty, but could be pretty fucking inspiring.


Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 80 81 4Vamping in the studio. Early 80s  /  Photo: Kagan

JE 10aAndrew Brady, Frank Lannon, Jake and Nasty. C-Bowl parking lot, early 80s

JP 80 81 12 NEW Yy3Jake and I used to play catch a lot when we were young. We had a fence in this parking lot at 4 Beacon Street. We would throw the ball as high as we could towards the fence so the other guy could try to make an incredible grab to rob a home run. Then you'd have to throw it back to home for the 2nd out. We called it "Warning Track." We also played stickball in the lot. We made our own rules. If you hit the ball across the street off the wall of the three-decker, that was an automatic home run. If you got it real good and sent it all the way over to the entrance of the bar across the street—Grand Slam. Hit it on the roof and lose the ball? Automatic asshole.

JP 80 81 5
   Jake was one of the smartest guys you'd ever meet. He was super well read and could use his intellect on you like a club if he felt like it. A lot of times he did it for his own amusement, but I always felt like he did it to challenge me and make me better. If you were in the room and weren't participating in the banter, you weren't "IN IT." Jake was the guy who always poked the bear, he was nails on the chalkboard, the instigator, but Jake was also generous beyond compare. He was always supplying kids with product to keep them skating. If you ever asked him for something it was yours to have. No questions asked.
   Jake was the hardest working man in the business. If he heard some dude had a ramp three states away, then boom, Jake was at my house early in the morning, ready to go. Summer, winter, it didn't matter, he was ready to go.
   He was always checking in on us through the years, making sure his friends were good. Even if you didn't need anything, he let you know he was there, and he always told you he loved you. I appreciate you, Jake. I love you.

JP 80 81 1Boston Crew: Al Barile, Jake Phelps, Jaie Sciarappa, Jon Anastas, Chris Foley and Tony Perez  /  Photo: Rush

JP 80 81 12 Yy1Jaime our bassist remembers meeting Jake with me when we went to see The Decline of Western Civilization movie in Cambridge. There were all these guys in line and we were, like, Who the fuck are these guys? Jaime recognized a few of them, including Jake, as skaters he used to skate with in the late ‘70s at Zero Gravity, an indoor skateboard park in Cambridge. Jaime handed them a flyer and said, "Hey, we're playing this show." And the night of the show, they all showed up! There were maybe eight-to-ten of them, all with shaved heads, and we were, like, "Alright, we have an audience," and we got to know those guys and that's how Boston Crew formed. But even though Jake loved SSD, he was all skateboard. He liked to disrupt—even if there wasn't always a reason behind the disruption. Jake went on the road with the Crew and SSD for shows in New York, DC, Philadelphia. Although it was rare, if we didn't travel with the Crew, the shows felt like something was missing. It was incomplete if they weren't there. We brought Jake and the Crew on our cross-country trip to California. I drove straight through from Boston to California in four days. Jake and I were two strong-willed people, and we frequently were going in two different directions, which made for an interesting trip with 11 guys in the van. In the last couple of years, Jake and I reconnected because we shared something in common: pain and operations. We reminisced about the good old days and the one thing I will always think of when I think about Jake—despite the fact that he never said this—is that to Jake, it wasn't so much how you got there; it was the process. The process was very important to him. If you didn't get there a certain way, it wasn't worth it. He was fearless. Walking on the edge and taking risks was important to him.

JP 80 81 9

JP 80 81 7Jake and Clambake, 2018

JP 80 81 12 NEW Yy4This is a story from when Jake and I were about 15 or 16 years old. Thinking back, we were still just kids.
   The punk rock crowd that I hung out with at the time were always confused as to why Jake had singled me out to be his friend. He was always looking out for me and keeping me out of trouble. Jake was one of the best friends I had, mostly because he let his guard down around me. We were always thinking of something to do, so here is one story out of thousands.
   I was sitting on the steps of Queensberry Street, in Boston, when Jake comes skating up on his board. I skate over to him and he says to me, "Let's get out of town. I think we should hitchhike to Maine and just relax and eat at your parents' house." I said, "Okay, let's do it," My parents always liked it whenever I came home and thought Jake was a nice kid, so we grabbed our boards and headed towards the freeway with our thumbs in the air.
   The first ride we got was from two tweaker guys who were out of their minds. We got off at the first exit and stopped at this really shady area right outside of Boston. The tweakers said they were going to a store. They were going to leave the car running and would be right back. We immediately jumped out of that car, thinking we were about to be involved in a robbery, and kept going. After a few hours, we were finally picked up by a super scary trucker. He said to us that we should stop at a bar before we head out. We didn't have any money so the trucker bought us drinks. We drank a bunch of beer while he was asking us strange questions like, "Where are you going? Does anyone know you're coming?" When he went to the bathroom I said to Jake, "Look, we are totally drunk now. We are only an hour away from Boston and Maine is two hours away. Should we just go back?" We thought about it for awhile, but decided to keep going. When we got back into the truck, the trucker just kept getting weirder and weirder. He was showing us his gun and telling us through his tears about his pet bobcat that just passed away.

JP 80 81 2
   We kept drinking something strong. Rum maybe? And once we got to Portsmouth, New Hampshire—it was Sunday and you couldn't buy liquor in Boston; only at a bar—we immediately pulled to the first liquor store we saw. The strange truck driver told Jake to buy another bottle of rum and a six-pack of Cokes. Jake grabbed his board and went in. I was sitting in the back part of the truck and asked him for a match. He said something along the lines of, "Yeah, my dick in the back of your throat." I just grabbed my board and jumped out of the truck and told Jake what happened. He took one of the Cokes and threw it at the back window and broke it. I didn't know this was going to happen so Jake grabbed me and said, "Run." We ran behind the store into some bushes and could see in the brightly-lit driveway the truck driving around in circles looking for us. He would leave and come back so we drank the booze until he left. After an hour we got up and I had some sort of funky rash on one side of my body. We got back on the freeway but it was getting late and not a lot of cars were on the road. We kept skating and kept our thumbs up.
   Now it had been eight or nine hours since we had left Queensberry Street. We saw an exit up ahead and started skating towards it. We saw a Dunkin' Donuts. Jake had just enough leftover change to buy a coffee and a doughnut. The waitress working there was super nice. Jake and I spent hours trying to convince this lady to let us stay at her place for the night, but she said no 'cause we stunk of liquor and she could see the giant rash I had on one side of my body that continued spreading. We gave up and decided to find somewhere else to sleep. There was a donation box in between a church and Dunkin' Donuts, so we climbed in and tried to sleep in it. It was impossible to get comfortable. Jake and me kept smelling something really awful and realized we had been sleeping in a compost bin the entire time. We were covered in coffee grinds, eggshells and God knows what else. We tried to clean ourselves off, but we still stank. Jake and I washed up inside the bathroom of Dunkin' Donuts and hit the road once again.
   A young girl picked us up. Jake and I could tell that she thought she made a mistake because of how bad we smelled. She was nice enough to drive us right to my parents' house, though. The house was small and it was around six in the morning. Jake drank everything we had in the fridge: cups of water, milk—and then he pulled out what appeared to be a carton of orange juice and chugged it down. I then started hearing him gag and hack so loud, I thought something was really wrong. He turned to me with his head in the sink and what looked like spinach running down his face. I grabbed the carton and saw that it was something called "pour-a-quiche." It had spinach, raw eggs and fettuccine in it. "Just pour and cook," said the label! Jake drank about half of it. My dad woke up to see my growing rash and Jake with spinach all over his chin. He told us, "You guys stink of booze. Get in the shower and go lay down."

JP 80 81 3
   I remember that we slept most of the day. When we woke up, Jake and I decided to leave and met some wannabe punks and talked them into buying us a case of beer and coke. I was banned from every bar in town so we decided to go to the pier and called some girls up. I got ahold of one girlfriend and the two of us went over to her place. I think Jake and I were both in a semi-blackout state, because all I can remember is us jumping out a window, being chased by the girl's mom and then being chased by the police for trying to steal some lobsters. Then we somehow got back to my parents' house. Jake and I and an old girlfriend of mine went to my brother's room and slept there. The three of us all had breakfast with my parents and my girlfriend said she would drive us back down to Boston. I got dropped off at the same stoop and Jake skated off into the sunset. We would do hundreds of things like this together all the time, but this one stood out the most.
   Jake went on to become this big legend in skateboarding and I went on to move to LA, got sober after a few years and became a production designer. Jake and I never lost touch, especially when someone passed. He felt comfortable enough to cry in front of me, to let all his emotions out. I am so grateful for the relationship we had and how he would always let his guard down when we were together. I am still in shock, but I know he loved me and I felt the same towards him. It's funny—this is the week Jake, his girlfriend Megan, my wife Margo and I were gonna move in together. Peace to his friends and family and all the kids he supported with skating. Jake was one of a kind and I just wish I could talk to him one last time. His last text to me was, "I told you I just want a bathroom and room for a desk, that's it! Get on it, Clambo!"

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 82 83 gLongboard layback, 1985  /  Photo: Yelland

JE7SOTY party, 2016

JP 82 83 ZMe and Jake worked at Concrete Jungle skateshop in the early/mid '80s in the Haight District of SF. The days were pretty slow as skating hadn't made its "comeback" yet so there weren't that many customers rolling in—usually just a local kid or two who were probably on the receiving end of a heckle sesh. In between the occasional grip job or re-drill we'd watch this little black and white television in the back. With all the corny sitcoms and soaps we'd end up watching The Dukes of Hazzard as it had some semblance of action, which we were both itchin' for but that was out in the streets while we were stuck at the shop all day.

JP 82 83 c
The Duke boys drove a souped-up hot rod and would rip around Hazzard county for whatever reason, stirrin' up shit. But the plot of the show usually had the same outcome—there was a bridge and it was washed out or blown up or who knows, the remnants always creating a launch ramp of sorts. So of course they had to decide if they were gonna jump it or not. The Duke boys would look at each other and ask the inevitable question, "Well... what do you think? Should we jump it?" The answer was, of course, always yes. They'd haul ass, clear the gap, land on the other side then exchange a, "Whew, we just made it" sort of glance. This was an inside joke with me and him. Only we knew the reference, time and place. Two stupid skaters just watching the clock until we could go skate. Well, this time the bridge was out again... and Jake didn't pull it. I love you, Jake. Hope all the bridges are intact wherever you are.

JP 82 83 j
JP 82 83 f
JP 82 83 i

JP 82 83 k

JP 82 83 bOakland Raiders halftime show, 1987  /  Photo: Kanights

JP 82 83 YI never would have met Jake so early in the game had it not been for my troublemaker skateboard mentors Larry Gluehead and the Schiffman brothers who ventured out to Boston ahead of me. This was during the heyday of American punk rock and these folks were truly badass—enough so to win Jake's respect and friendship. Even though I already had my sights set on California, the center of the skateboard world, tales of the Boston punk scene and skating the C-Bowl made it back to Wisconsin and it became obvious that California could wait a little longer. Jake tolerated my presence when I showed, not because I was badass, but I guess because he sensed the way I appreciated and honored the ideals within that spectrum of society. I think he found amusement and satisfaction in the older-brother role, a teacher in the school of hard knocks. I feel that this was a big part of who he was throughout his life. "One piece of boloney per sandwich, who the fuck do you think you are?!" "If you go out in Jamaica Plain dressed like that you're going to get beat down!" Which was true. I had rocks thrown at me trying to escape the sketchy train station and once got knocked down, kicked and beaten in the middle of a multi-lane highway, drunk and lost in the South End just before dawn. Thankfully I made it through that year without losing any teeth or eyeballs.

JP 82 83 d
Jake was embarrassed by our ragtag, vagabond spin on an '80s glam rock version of skate punk costuming, but he was okay with it being a piece of his cultural puzzle. A couple of years later he coined the phrase "ninja pajamas" to describe the wacky look we had going. In the summer of 1984 I was back in Madison when I met a girl named Angie who was visiting from San Francisco—finally someone who would sport me a couch to crash on out west! This was shortly after Jake had been hit by a van while bombing down from upper Haight and compound fractured his leg. I remember saying to Glue, "Maybe a familiar face from out east will cheer Jake up." "I doubt that," Glue said, but I went anyway. That visit only lasted about three months, but just over a year later I made it back with reinforcements and SF has been my center of operations ever since. A decade later when the state of California decided that the new freeway that would replace the section of 880 that collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake would need to run right through Jake's West Oakland warehouse, he ended up staying with his girlfriend Windy on Capp Street in the Mission. The closest watering hole was the Uptown Bar at 17th Street. We spent so much time there that I ended up picking up shifts behind the bar. I still work there to this day, and I'm now a part owner. Jake came by the bar just a few weeks ago. Little did I know that would be the last time I'd see him.

JP 82 83 a
JP 82 83 e

JP 82 83 L1987

JP 82 83 xOne foggy San Francisco day back in 1985, Jake Phelps, fresh from Boston, showed up asking me for work at Concrete Jungle skateshop up on Waller Street in the Haight. Needless to say, he got the job, even though later on we all discovered he was a ball buster, had an attitude and enjoyed picking on the little grommets that came into the store to buy our stuff. In spite of Jake being bad for business, he didn't lose his job! Why? Probably because he embodied the outlaw-punker-give-a-fuck-streetwise-skate- and-destroy attitude to a T and didn't hesitate to unleash it at random on anyone, anywhere. Soon after Jake was part of the sponsored am team, including such notables as Noah Salasnek, Danny Sargent, Mickey Reyes, Mike "Arco" Archimedes and Steve Roetter to name a few. Garnering two full-page ads in Thrasher and one in TWS (oops). In many ways, he was the big brother to the crew and steered them away from the fluffy skate and create Tracker truck "cream-puff casper milquetoast" trend.

JP 82 83 hFogtown ad, 1986  /  Photo: Kanights 

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 84 85 fVermont Street ramp, 1987

JP 84 85 d
JP 84 85 MIn 1987 a bunch of us ragers from Boston, MA, and Madison, WI, immediately linked up with Phelps at Concrete Jungle skateshop on Waller. He really showed us around town in a big way, sharing with us the sacred SF knowledge we all needed to know—how to use the public transit, the best burrito joints, best places to play pool and have a cold one, and, of course, endless hill bombing all over town, day and night. One night a bunch of us were hanging with Jake in the Haight, partying hard into the wee hours of the morning. We were all crashed out in someone's flat near Divisadero. I remember trying to find some comfort on the dusty hardwood floor by using an empty milk carton as a pillow. Anyway, the sun came up and it was time to go. The night before we had planned to get a ride to Raging Waters waterpark in San Jose and the ride wasn't going to wait. The only one near awake was Jake. Who knows? He may not have crashed at all.

JPE 84 85 a
   So how does he cut through the hangover fog spinning in all of his wacky little friends, passed out on the linoleum? Jake turned on the TV news for a bit then he loudly proclaimed, "Hey, guys, wake up! They did it! They finally caught the Loch Ness Monster! It's all over the news!" We were all so psyched with the "news" that we were on our feet, cracking cold beers, high-fiving and hugging within seconds—fully celebrating this monumental scientific discovery! We started talking about going to Scotland to see Nessie and even a side trip to Stonehenge!
Jake kept us hyped for a few hours and someone finally spilled the beans about Jake's ruse to wake us up. He got us good! We did make it to the waterpark and had a slip sliding, sunburned frolic of a time. Why? Because Jake loved us and he wanted to show us newcomers some SF hospitality. Jake was a man of action, always ready for the next adventure, always pushing us to try harder. He often said, "Live it like you run it." He did just that. I'll always remember him for his brutal honesty, his wisdom, scholarly wit, his generosity and his unconditional friendship.

JP 84 85 gIn front of Concrete Jungle. Noseguard?

JP 84 85 e

JE16Sam and Jake at P-Stone’s surprise party, 2010  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 84 85 NI got my first skateboard in 1986. It was generic, had the stripes of a Powell Ripper, but a two-head Tyrannosaurus Rex rather than the skull. It was a thick hunk of wood with plastic all over it—huge bubble skid plate, nose guard, wide rails and a lapper. Didn't give a shit, rode it all day, every day. I was obsessed and my mom knew it. She took me to SF's only real skate shop at the time, Fogtown. My eyes darted all over the board wall when I walked through the door, tripping on the shiny graphics. The walls were covered in skate photos and stickers, Tracker and Skates On Haight logos with lines slashed through them. I was excited but also extremely intimidated by the shop locals. They were behind the counter and in the back sitting on dirty sofa chairs. There was no, "May I help you?" The guy in black-rimmed glasses was holding court and they didn't stop their conversation to notice us. I'd been riding my generic board for almost a year. It was beat up and felt like it was somehow getting heavier and slower by the day.

JPE 84 85 c
I begged my mom for a board, but the full deal was out of our budget. She looked to Jake, the guy in glasses finally noticed us. She asked what he could do for my board with $30. He said, "Give it here." Without asking permission he threw my set up on the workbench and started removing all the plastic accessories, "Get all this crap off here." He told me a new board wouldn't be shit with these big plastic wheels. He asked me, "You wanna go fast right?" and took me over to the wheel case. I nodded, and pointed to the fluorescent yellow Bullets. $24 for those, and $6 on some red, white and blue Schmitt rails made $30. But when he tried to remove the bearings from my old wheels they exploded all over the floor. My heart sunk. I considered that I might leave in worse shape than when I came in. But there was no way Jake would leave a skater hanging. GMN bearings were the cheapest Fogtown had and he figured out how to work a set into the deal. Jake handed me my board, now lighter and faster. He breathed new life into my piece of shit and that day he was my hero. We'd share important moments like these again and again for the next 30 years. And this would always be Jake's way with me. All gruff and intimidating at first, then he'd open his heart and reveal his tender side. I'll cherish these moments forever.

JP 84 85 hGlory Hole, 1987


Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 86 87 kRight after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Candlestick Park, Oct 17, 1989

JP 86 87 zStreet Scott and I were cruising through the City in my old Chevy Nova near Golden Gate park, looking for a session, and we saw this dude, board in hand, walking uphill. In those days if you saw a skateboarder you connected immediately, so we hollered at him to jump in the car and we went out skating. That's how I met Jake. I don't think he'd been in town too long at that point, but he became a fixture in the scene immediately. He started working at Rainbow Skates which eventually became Fogtown. We gave him a couple writing assignments for the mag and he just nailed them. I think it was part of our Product Patrol section. He worked at the shop so he was perfect for reviewing stuff and his writing was great. The way he wrote was the way he talked and the way he lived. Eventually he started coming around the mag and was just a force of nature. You didn't need to introduce him to people, he just forged his way, and Ed Riggins soon gave him a job in the warehouse.

JP 86 87 a
Once he was officially on staff it was only a matter of time before he made his way up. He was just so correct about skating. He spent so much time analyzing it, he was like a skateboarding scientist. Pair that with his photographic memory and you had this walking skateboard encyclopedia. I wouldn't say I was his mentor, but we knew that eventually Jake would become the editor. We challenged him and he certainly challenged all of us, but it was never in a way to try and one-up you, he just knew we could be better and felt that we owed that to skateboarding. Jake was 100-percent skateboarder and his presence was the embodiment of Thrasher and I always felt like just one percent of Jake could fuel most skaters for an entire lifetime. At the same time, there was a soft side to Jake, the part of him that really looked out for the people in his life, the guy who took his responsibility to skateboarding and the magazine very seriously. He held our readers in such high regard, even when he was talking shit. I miss our games of ping-pong, and he could also play a mean game of chess, but I'll certainly never forget the time I was sitting in my office during the holidays and felt this wave of heat at my window. I popped my head out and saw that Jake had dragged our Christmas tree out into the street, ornaments, lights, and everything, and torched the thing. Mentor, agitator, facilitator—Jake did it all.

JP 86 87 d

JP 86 87 fJake and BK. Columbus, OH, 1992

JP 86 87 yWhen Jake Phelps arrived in San Francisco in the mid '80s and soon became connected to our skate scene it was clear that he shared the same passion and attachment to skateboarding like the rest of us. Those years involved discovering and skating new spots, building ramps, creating zines, supporting each other's art and music efforts, hitting the road, raging in the streets and questioning authority all the while. The City's skate scene was so small that the influx of kooks hadn't arrived yet. But make no mistake, Jake's East Coast voice and intense vibe definitely scorched those who dared to blow it in skateboarding or otherwise. In fact, he's the guy who told both me and Julien Stranger to no longer push mongo. Game changer; real-friend type of shit.

JPE 86 87 b
   Fast forward through several years that followed where Jake had worked his way up from Thrasher's shipping department, to Product Patrol writer, to an editor role working alongside myself and Brian Brannon as the magazine's editorial team. We put together the bible each month, generated quarterly videos and also made it a ritual to skate each and every Friday night at my private ramp facility (Studio 43) with our local friends and those visiting from other areas. This is where the Friday Night Hellride, which Jake coined, began. Those were insanely fun and great "high energy" times. Jake was a big proponent of the vert scene and without his involvement, SF would've become a street-only experience during early '90s as skateboarding's growth began to take a nap. Although Phelper didn't create Thrasher's "Skate and Destroy" or "Skate Rock" ethos, without question, he carried that time-honored torch and let it burn bright throughout his wide-ranging travels over the past three decades. Jake became the overseer of that flame and we certainly have to keep it blazing for skateboarding's core culture worldwide. It burns forever, Jake. Onward.

JP 86 87 gStudio 43, 1991  /  Photo: Kanights

JP 86 87 xAn early encounter with Jake was riding his ramp in Oakland with Mofo. He lived in an insane warehouse. It was skate, party, skate! The Hellride started at the Widow Maker ramp. Sessions were a sight to behold and many a skater, especially us older ones, can recall how many scenes started from wooden ramp simulators—build-it-and-they-will-come, Field of Dreams kind of stuff.
   That night we skated and listened to Motörhead. "Don't be a pussy!" the old man yelled! Phelper made everyone roll in first try. Mr. Heckle, of course! Remember, kiddies, us baby boomers grew up in the '60s and '70s, you know, without seatbelts and sunscreen. We got heckled, teased, harassed, from all walks of life. Jake with his hard candy shell and soft, chewy center continued this motto. So it's toughen up buttercup, OR YOU'RE OUT. I appreciated Phelper's take-no-prisoner approach to life. He wore his emotions on his sleeve. He would berate you, bait you, talk shit about you and if he smelled fear, he would make you cry. BUT if you passed the Phelper test, you were a lifer. As time passed, he skated the line and clawed his way to the top in his leather vest to become the editor of Thrasher magazine. Skating is not about all the hype. Skating really boils down to who you like to roll with, just get out and DO IT! Jake rolled over the world to skate and spread the gospel. I'm gonna miss walking into Thrasher mag and going in Jake's office. It was like a candy store of who's who in the world of skateboarding—bits and pieces on the walls of former skate trips, mementos of days gone by, the Thrasher neon sign burning brightly behind his desk. Never forget Jake Phelps!

JP 86 87 iCast in ‘crete in front of Studio 43.  /  Photo: Kanights

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 88 89 cPlaying with fire. Widowmaker, 1987  /  Photo: Kanights

JP 88 89 fJake and Shax, partners in crime

JP 88 89 zThe first time I met Jake I was 12. He had a broken leg and was sitting in front of Fogtown skateshop off of Haight street where he worked. They had a red Rat Bones jacket that I had been desperately lusting after. Upon turning the pricetag over and seeing $50 written on it, Jake must have seen the fright of sticker shock in my eyes, because with a crooked smile and slight tilt of his head he laughed and said, "The high price of fashion, kid."
   I had also seen Jake at Sam's vert ramp in Hunters Point. In fact, I'm sitting on the side of the ramp in his famous layback photo. I'm fully padded, too scared to skate and wearing a Thrasher shirt that's two sizes too big.
   Not long after, Jake became something like a mentor, brother and father figure to me when he moved into the Phoenix Iron Works building where my mom lived. Jake skated, my mom skated and I skated, so it only made sense to have a vert ramp inside her newly-acquired warehouse. This ramp became the Widow Maker, named after Jake got bit by a black widow while sleeping under the ramp one night. He woke up in a feverish sweat, with a bite swelling on his arm the size of a bowling ball. The Widow Maker is where Jake and I really became die-hard vert skaters. No joke, Jake couldn't do a street ollie when I met him. I was trying to learn it while we were building the ramp. Laying a broomstick on its side, I repeatedly tried to ollie it and Jake joined in. A week later we could ollie a 2x4 on its low side. The next week we had it flipped up tall. After that, no small curb was safe. We had learned the street ollie and in our mutual delusion we checked that one off the list and continued on our vertical attack. Once I started to improve and learn tricks, Jake became incredibly encouraging of my ability and I mutually became his biggest fan. We skated the Widow Maker every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday—usually just the two of us. Jake would say insane stuff like, "If people ask about our sessions tell them, ‘It's just me and Jake and we skate for five hours straight, drinking only hot salt water!'" It was things like this that made me laugh at Jake but also love these outlandish stories he wanted people to believe. Oddly there was no need to fabricate stories.

JP 88 89 b
   Jake came home once with his shirt covered in blood. He had been stabbed on Haight Street after work one day. Blood-stained shirts, black eyes, swollen limbs, broken glasses and various injuries were commonplace. As a young kid, this was outrageous and foreign but completely intriguing. I was shy, quiet and a little bit scared of the world around me. Jake was the complete opposite. He was my friend and had my back and his huge personality showed me an example of how to be stronger, which completely empowered me. Those years at Phoenix Iron Works with our ramp the Widow Maker were some of the best of my life. I would never have became the person I am today without Jake's influence. Not always good times, but real-life contrast. As the years went on and Jake and I followed our own paths, we had our ups and downs. Jake and I can both be highly opinionated, hyper critical and egotistical at times. Sometimes I would see Jake as a completely different person, almost a caricature of himself. Possibly he viewed me in a similar way, but I never lost love for him. He'd call me randomly and tell me the same.
   Cosmically, over the last few months Jake and I reconnected on a deeper level. He had seemed to soften a bit and was cleaning house with quite a few people. I can't ask why, but only feel blessed to be a part of it and to have had those last few memories with him. I love the man, I idolized him for years and continue to be inspired by how he lived his life and truly did it his way. "Mess with the best, die on the Widow Maker. Roll in or get the fuck out. Pine Street Mob forever." I'm going to miss you, Jake. Maybe I've said our relationship was love and hate, but I truly have nothing but love for you.

JP 88 89 dMax snap with neighborhood love, 1994

JP 88 89 a

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 90 91 Q

JP 90 91 eJake and Onio, 2019

JP 90 91 zIt was a hot, sunny day. There was a contest at the Lower Bottoms skatepark. I was actually just released from being incarcerated and saw my lifelong friend Phelps. I walked up on him and said, "Jake, how you been? It's Onio." He said, "Fuck, kid, how you been?" I said, "Good, man. You still look the same." Jake said, "What was I supposed to do, sucka? Change?" Ha! I still knew the bond was the same. Several hours later we reunited at the skatepark. I remembered how one day he was at his lowest point and I came and knocked on the door because I wanted to go skate at the West Oakland post office, and he was happy he could get the satisfaction from skateboarding. I knew right then that we don't die to skate, we skate to die. Making it right is something we do. Skateboarding is forever, something we know, keeping it with us on the road is something we do. Our love and loyalty will always stay true. Love you more, Jake Phelps. Thanks, Thrasher mag.

JP 90 91 gCorrosive tap, double capped. Widowmaker, late 80s

JP 90 91 fStiff-armed near the “channel”  /  Photo: Schaaf

JP 90 91 yHe heckled me relentlessly from the moment we met, but I always felt like it was coming from a good place and I took it as a challenge—just like I did with the older crew who heckled me in Birmingham, England, when I was a 13-year-old grommet—a rite of passage. Jake just kept it going full time. I remember Jasin Phares making the call to set the sesh up at his ramp and hearing Jake on the other end in the background "Can Jagger come? Does Jagger even skate vert? Only if he rolls in!" I already knew I would have to roll in before the call so I was resolved but still pretty terrified.

JP 90 91 b
In the end I took a run and was trying to do frontside pivots, and he said he'd let me slide if I did the pivot. He knew that was a challenge to me and just wanted me to push myself in some way. I made myself roll in after this anyway, 'cause I just wanted his approval. It never made him heckle me any less, but I think he might have respected me a tiny bit after that. Jake cared about the really important things in skateboarding—friendship and good times. He just wanted everyone to get some.

JP 90 91 cJake, Max and their sleds, 1993

JP 90 91 i
Bob at the last session, 1994  /  Photo: Dawes

JP 90 91 xWhen I got to the US from Brazil I thought everyone was all business. I grew up building towards that scene. There were guys who were sponsored at what they do, shoot photos, skate contests. Jake showed me another scene. He showed me the raw skateboarding. It's business, but it's raw first. That's where he was rooted. It wasn't skate every day so you can get sponsored, it was skate every day because you love it and you learn something new. Hang out with your friends and learn. The whole "Roll in or get out!" I thought that was funny as hell. I could roll in so it wasn't bad for me. Switch roll in? Whatever. I'd do whatever he wanted. He didn't care if you could skate or not, you were rolling in. He made this guy who could barely skate roll in. Jake pulled out a BB gun and was shooting at him to roll in. The guy rolls in and blows his shoulder. I used to trip at the fact that he would laugh at us slamming. I used to think, What an asshole. I started realizing that it is pretty funny. He could laugh because he skates. To this day, I laugh my ass off when people slam. People get weird at me and I say, "Listen, I can laugh." But if you don't skate you can't laugh. In Australia he was laughing at us. We start going down this hill in Tasmania; we were cooking. He was wearing a button-up shirt but it was all loose. He passes me, gets speed wobbles and goes flying, slides on his back and on his chest. He got the craziest burn. I could not stop laughing. That's when I got it. For the whole trip, he was having a hard time with his skin burn. In the sun and going in the water, he's just hating it. It was so funny. That was Jake and that was the rawness. He was okay with being laughed at.

JP 90 91 a
   When I got on the cover with the frontside air on the Widow Maker I sent him a letter and thanked him. He saved the letter for so long. He had never gotten a thank-you letter for giving someone the cover. I thought that was super cool that he kept it. I was there during that little transition time when he had to leave the warehouse with his ramp. I remember going in there for the last time with him. He's cruising around and saying goodbye. He went into each room and he did that crossing-kiss thing that Jake does. I realized that was a big phase for him, that he's transitioning onto the next. You see how much he puts in and how much he loved it. I remember him saying, "Hey, Bob, I think you're Skater of the Year." I looked at him like, Really, man? I didn't feel like I deserved it. I feel like most people would jump on it and be like, Woo! I really didn't know. I remember having that interaction. I told him, "I don't think I deserve it, Jake." He said, "That's why it's you." I don't want to start crying with these stories, but Jake was rad. Skateboarding will miss him. We will miss him. A lot of people realize how deep and how much of a soul of skateboarding Jake was and is. He's onto the next phase.

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 92 93 dCity Boys, 2016  /  Photo: Yelland

JP 92 93 yJake Phelps' fate was determined the day he picked up a skateboard. The writing was on the wall. His skateboard shaped every part of his life. It led him from ‘hood to ‘hood, from state to state, to places all over the world—that skateboard was his key to unlocking the planet. He had the drive and unquenchable thirst to skate the world! With that passion came friendships. He would always try to connect with the skaters he met—he saw himself in all those kids in the streets and skateparks. He pushed them to rip, told them stories about the world and told them that they could do anything they wanted in life if they had a skateboard. Skateboarding and music go hand in hand. Jake loved music, and like every skater, it got him hyped to skateboard. He used music as an outlet to write and to rock out. When he got on stage you could feel the power! If you had the skateboard passion he knew it, and you were his partner in crime. But he also had that other side. He had love in his heart, and if you found a piece of it, it was real love! He had an incredible way of remembering everything about you—your kid's name, birthdays and details about your life you don't even remember, mixed in with random knowledge about the world. His memory was off the hook. When you crossed paths he might talk with you or just skate right past you. That was just the way it was. Jake was a true skate rat, pushing uphill his whole life. Jake, you will truly be missed, but I know you're ripping with all the boys right now! Till next time, kid. RIP Ride.

JP 92 93 eMaster’s Finals, Slam City Jam, 1995  /  Photo: Kanights

JP 92 93 cJake, Lee and Omar

JP 92 93 zI first met Jake in 1989 when I was about 16 years old. I used to go to SF, to Thrasher and to skate Bryce Kanights' ramp. Jake was always skating Bryce's ramp and he would yell out tricks that he knew people had in them. I would think to myself, Who is this guy yelling? He was really loud and I was intimidated by his aggressive presence but I felt like I had to comply and I would usually do the tricks that he was demanding of me. I spent decades around him. Since those early years I was able to get to know him, travel the world with him and always run into him at skate events. He was always pushing me whether I liked it or not. His motivation was to see something in someone and dig hard until they would accomplish what he knew they were capable of.

JP 92 93 b
He would push buttons in various ways, good and bad, but in the end the result was bringing the best out in people. His pushing brought the fire that made skateboarding turn up to volume 10. He was a great friend, skater, musician and motivator and had a photographic memory. He had an unfiltered fuck you attitude and didn't care what anyone thought about him. He was always there and will always be there. Skateboarding lost a great legend, but his screaming voice will be in our ears and hearts forever. See you on the other side of the ride, Jake!

JP 92 93 fWinner, winner. 1992  /  Photo: Kanights

JP 92 93 xJake Phelps is, was, and will always be skateboarding in the purest form from the day I first met him. He was in Europe in 1989 with Kevin Thatcher. I think he'd just been hired. He said, "This is Jake Phelps. He's been ran over by a bus, bit by a brown recluse, a black widow and run over by a trolley too. He works at Thrasher and skateboarding is his life. Over the rest of his life he helped evolve the mag while never losing sight of what skateboarding is—fast, dangerous, free and a mirror in our face of who we are and what we are capable of. He pushed us all in so many directions.

JP 92 93 a
The stories that have been rolling through my mind are too pure and sacred to try and put into words. They are the least boring stories in my memory. Skateboarding owes you nothing. We owe skateboarding our lives. He was a walking library and words, words, words just can't describe the impact he has had on every single person's life through skateboarding and his passion for life—felt across the globe. The flame will never go out. I love you, Jake, and there is no RIP because you're with us every day.

JP 92 93 gTobin and Jake on Thrasher Radio  /  Photo: Schmitty

JP 92 93 wA friend dying is like a beat of a big drum. It vibrates through my bones. When Jake passed away last week, it was horrible and surreal. I met Jake when I was 13, right around the time I started skating and shooting photos and the first photo I ever got published was of him in the March 1986 issue of Thrasher for a longboarder article. Jake was doing a tailblock in the photo. This was a huge deal to me because it encouraged me to do more and all I wanted to do was skate and take photos, which ended up being my job. I also worked with Jake at Concrete Jungle skateshop and that had a big impact on what I thought skateboarding was all about.
I don't live in San Francisco anymore, so I am so glad to have seen Jake recently and that he was happy and doing his thing. I went to visit him at Thrasher and we walked through the building and he showed me how he was working to digitize all the photos in their archive and wanted a photo of Danny Sargent I shot doing a 50-50 at the Everett Middle School rail and explained that area of the city was the start of everything. Jake and Schmitty had me on Thrasher Radio that day and we talked about old times and people. One of the people we talked about was Brian Ferdinand and the day the episode came out Brian texted Jake and Jake left me a voicemail saying how stoked he was. "Hey, Tobin, this is Jake. I just got a text from Brian Ferdinand. Can you believe it? We were just yappin' about him on Thrasher Radio, dude. Came out good. He was fuckin' hyped. Brian Ferdinand—little Brian Ferdinand says, "Big love." You know that shit, dude. C'mon. Where the Wild Things Are."

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 94 95 gContest crew and The Bird, 1997  /  Photo: Thompson

JP 94 95 yI don't remember meeting Jake because it seems like he had always been around the skate scene since the beginning and was always hyping people up to push their limits. If you didn't know him, it could be intimidating. But his intentions were genuine: to honor skate history while encouraging a new generation. I knew if Jake was anywhere near the ramp that he would call on me to do the most obscure (and difficult) tricks, many of which were only known to a handful of skaters that persevered through "the slow years." And even though his presence could be domineering, I wanted to impress him every time he challenged me. He was passionate about skating and all that it encompasses in a way that is truly rare. It's no wonder he became the face and voice of Thrasher over the past 25 years—he lived and breathed skateboarding while encouraging skaters to be their best, and we were lucky to have him at the helm. Thank you, Jake. This next Phillips 66 (one of his favorites) is for you.

JP 94 95 bMike Carroll's SOTY party, 1994

JP 94 95 hSydney, 2008  /  Photo: Rhino

JP 94 95 vJake came down with the boys to save me from myself. They'd just done Machu Pichu and the big pipe place—rocking a Hellride, the first I'd seen. He looked tough and cool like a leader, like the editor of Thrasher. I tried to refuse his help but his magic was strong and he sent elves and Joeys to hush me down. He spoke of the future, a future without pads, a future filled with many brothers fulfilling the destiny of skate. He was always in the moment during a Helly, 24/7.
   Like a wizard he would invoke a spell of understanding amongst the riders that would bind us as one. To complete a Hellride, aka any tour with Jake, riding along was no walk in the park. Quickly we unleashed fire and lightning one upon the other but to no avail. After the cheese had melted and reset and melted and reset x 666 we had become brothers. No stone was unturned in our conversations. Jake met my family and in turn inducted me into his family of Hellriders.

JP 94 95 a
   I won't list the family because it's too long and would require many books but my love goes out to you all. Becoming a part of you fellas has been a sweet part of my life. He would tell me about you fellas on fire and I'd say, "Bring them to me." He had a liking for underdogs and a memory beyond compare. A talent and caring for local tradition, i.e. past skaters and OG skate spots. Hellrides often involved past-recorded feats at legendary spots being upgraded by one or more of the boys.
   Personal bests, too, were often achieved in many fields under his tutelage. Of course The Mag, as he called it, was a continual thread of shred between us. It was easy to forget he had a job and impossible to forget he was the editor of Thrasher. He was a dictionary of skateboarding, an ambassador like no other, a comic genius, a man who may turn out to have been omnipresent (future investigations into unseen video footage of him in one place and another at the same time).
   He is, in short, perhaps the best. Also, Jake my bro, thank you for including Tania on every ride we had. Don't know how you did it, but I thank you for my girl being part of our family and I cherish the many times I have looked yonder and seen you and her having a laugh.

JP 94 95 eWith Photo Editor Luke Ogden, 1997

JP 94 95 fArt by Mofo

JP 94 95 x I sit here writing this, late at night, with grief, alone with my thoughts—and not even for an old long-time friend.
   We were never buddies.
   Nor were we bros.
   We weren't so much enemies either.
   Hard-headed adversarial frenemies?
   Sure.
   Why not?
   Reflecting upon a stockpile of experiences and memories spanning a volcanic decades-ago pre-internet/cellphone/laptop lifetime, I aimlessly search for some nugget to expand upon. And to no avail. All that emerges for me is how we'd grunt at each other in passing more often than we ever exchanged words.
   We managed to piss each other off more than several times, and it used to remain to be seen who pissed off the other more.
   Except now I guess I can't piss you off any longer, can I?
   And also NOW, I'm a bit pissed that you're gone.
   Jake for the win.
   I stand proud to have known you, to have stood alongside you in the stark-raving moments of creating something amazing out of virtually nothing. I regret not having told you this.
   There are so many who keep asking and feel the need to know just how you died.
   How or why you ended doesn't matter to me.
   What I find much more compelling is how you fucking lived on your own terms, and got away with it.
   There are very few that I can point to as having lived as huge and as full of a life as you. You drove the bus longer than any of us.
   Hail and farewell, Jake.
   I'll never forget you.


JP 94 95 dIn the trenches with Managing Editor, Brad Dosland, 1993

JP 94 95 zJake and I were Thrasher employees together in the mid '80s through the '90s. We were constantly at odds; he was the crude and I the prude. I wanted peace and quiet and he was loud. Every day. Loud, louder and even louder. Every day we tried to get under each other's skin. I don't like to admit it but I even blared Rush Limbaugh from my desk radio to annoy him. At Thrasher's 15-year anniversary party at the Cadillac Bar on Minna Street, Jake pulled his pants down proudly and flashed me and everyone else. This is an image I cannot erase. The day after he died I was not shocked when Jake "appeared" to me. In an email from an art vendor I currently work with I received a full-frontal torso of a Greek bust. That was Jake. I'm certain. I can't believe that big, bold and secretly benevolent guy is gone. It suddenly got quiet in San Francisco.

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 96 97 a

JP 96 97 bAmarillo, 1996  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 96 97 zHellride. It all kind of started when Jake took over Bryce's ramp on Fridays. We'd skate the ramp and then afterwards some of the heads like Gibo, Glue, Piston, Coco, Noah, Wheat, Arco, Sarge, Joey, Mickey, Julien and I would all meet up at The Uptown Bar where Piston worked to play pool, chat and have a couple of brews. We all kind of resonated with each other. After, we would skate all night through the concrete jungle, bombing hills and whatnot. Jake was pretty much the elder of the crew and he understood it. He congregated everyone to those ramps, all three of 'em—the Widow Maker, Bryce's and the one at Print Time. They were like tabernacles of skate. We went hard and created some strong vibes. He pushed it; he pushed the skating. It was real. With all those bonds and the raw energy we began to take it on the road. Once he became the editor and was able to travel, it was fucking on! We started out going on trips up to Burnside and Europe during the contest seasons. Joey Tershay was like the coordinator. He would link up folks and he knew who the connects were. I remember some of the first Europe trips being hella young and we would all get to the airport all fired up and Jake just disappearing. He didn't have no time to babysit, which was cool, though, because it was always on ourselves to figure it out. He was never the one to hold anyone's hand and neither was anybody else in our crew for that matter. We were all cut from the same sort of DIY fabric. We were ruthless to each other yet loved each other like brothers. We went all over the world together, each trip bringing different elements of people into the crew.

JP 96 97 P
   I remember Five Docks in Australia when Jake almost died. It was crazy, at this old gnarly '70s pit, like 15-feet deep, no flatbottom. Jake was always the first one to call you out on a roll in—first trick at any new park or massive transition, stemming from his old ramp the Widow Maker where you had to roll in first or you couldn't skate. So we are at this monstrosity that is Five Docks and I could see Jake's timidness around the edge of the bowl. So immediately I yelled, "Roll in, motherfucker!" He had to pay. It was always a constant back and forth. Jake knew your weaknesses and preyed on them and it felt good to be able to return the favor. Jake rolls in, straight into the flat, head first. He went into gnarly convulsions, fully started shaking and foaming at the mouth. To Jake's credit, whenever anyone would slam or get hurt he was always the first one to get down there on the flatbottom and sort it out. He would always check if they were okay. He was always the immediate response. That always resonated with me. I loved that. The dude was gnarly and mean as a junkyard dog yet he was the first one running down and caring about people. Not only people, the dude had mad love for animals too. So when he fell I was immediately down there trying to revive him. I'm grabbing his tongue and trying to hold it so he wouldn't swallow it. He was going out and we couldn't have that. He went to the hospital with a fractured skull and severe brain swelling. He was in there for days. Then he came out the meanest motherfucker on Earth! It was so gnarly. I remember Julien, Arco and I having to sell his board and shit to pull it. He was furious, but road tax is a bitch!

JP 96 97 M
   I remember this one trip, Jake had brought a few of us out to Boston to skate the Cambridge pool. It was 12-feet deep and three feet of vert. This is where he grew up skating. I remember Jake showing us the lines to get all three deathboxes and how he loved that pool. We left there and headed to this sandwich spot around the corner. The owner was this old man, super old. The old man asked us where we were coming from. We told him that we were skating the Cambridge pool because it was empty, and that we were all from California. He then told us a story of the greatest skateboarder that skated that pool. "He was better than all the rest. A tall, skinny kid with glasses." The guy said his name, "Jake." Then Jake turns around and says, "That was me!" It was a trip to see how he was revered in his hometown. To me, growing up with Jake was like having a boxing coach around, a Cus D'Amato of sorts. He was always in my ear telling me when to throw a jab or the uppercut. It was always a cool vibe for me. Jake also had a rougher side to him. He always said what was on his mind and called a spade a spade, and because of his raw-ass attitude fake people stayed the fuck away. That energy transferred into the magazine and should be regarded for keeping kooks out and not letting weak shit fly. Jake didn't play that weak shit and we didn't either. Skateboarding is life and this shit will not be taken lightly. We need to hold onto that. I want people to say, "What would Jake do?" when they see people shitting on our culture. I want his spirit to continue. The door shouldn't be left open. He lived and died for this shit. We have to stay militant! We can't let the kooks and culture vampires infiltrate what is rightfully ours, the skateboarder's skateboarding! Rest easy, Old Man, we got it from here!

JP 96 97 eLas Vegas, 1996  /  Photo: Dawes

JP 96 97 d

JP 96 97 fTourist class with Wade, 1997

JP 96 97 gPhil Shao, Paris, 1995  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 96 97 cEngland, 1995

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 98 99 aLayback at The Dish, Airwalk '80s

JP 98 99 dJulien and Jake, New Zealand, late 90s

JP 98 99 PThe first time I saw Jake I thought he was retarded. That was all my little brain could come up with for what I was looking at. It was at The Dish sometime in the early '80s. My mom took me up there to skate and there's this dude wearing old man clothes who kept having to push his thick glasses back up onto his weird-shaped head. Everything was exaggerated in my young mind. He was strange and it didn't fit anywhere with anything I'd seen and I was fascinated. He later told me the kids used to call him "snot gurgler" in school, which totally made sense with my first impression of him. Over the last three decades I have seen that same look of transfixed incredulity on the faces of a thousand kids, trying to make sense of what they were looking at, asking themselves, What is it? Well, good luck. I think on some level even his closest friends could never answer that question. Jake's generosity and natural affinity with kids is well known. For him, STOKE was the highest ideal and firing kids up to skate a little harder and believe in themselves was his highest calling.

JP 98 99 x
   Around a year or so after first seeing Jake at The Dish, I'd started making a pest of myself around the skateshop where he worked. One day I was waiting for the bus up on Haight Street when who comes skating by... "Why are you waiting for the bus?" "I gotta go home." "Where do you live?" The thing is that this bus only went one place, so he already kinda knew I lived in the Mission. "I'm going that way too. You'll get there faster on your board. Let's go." I hesitated, did some quick math and said, "Okay," and we were off—down Haight, down Page, bomb across Diviz, wiggle down to Safeway, across the tracks and over to Dolores and another three beautiful blocks of downhill and then on to 16th Street and I knew exactly where I was again and I couldn't believe it! That's been there the whole time?! I believe Jake was living at a punk/art house called Mission A. He broke right up Mission Street and I kept going down 16th the last few blocks home. My mind was blown. That day was the beginning of my friendship with Jake. I also never waited for that bus again.
   Anyone who's ever been friends with Jake knows how complicated that could be. Our friend Barry once said that being friends with Jake was like having a second girlfriend. He didn't always make it easy. But when I think over the miles and the outlandish nature of the worldwide quest for STOKE we were on, with John and Joey and Arc and Hubs and Preston and anyone else with the will and a plane ticket that could hang... well, what's the cost of that?
   I feel compelled to try and wrap it all up in some epic nutshell 'cause that's what Jake would do, but that's not gonna happen. I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to understand what just happened over the last 35 years. But when it's at its clearest, the Van Halen will be blasting, the beers will be cold and the sesh will be on. 'Cause as complicated as Jake was, the ingredients for a good life are pretty fucking simple. And he lived it all the way.

JP 98 99 b

JP 98 99 eWheat, Coco and Jake  /  Photo: Yelland

JP 98 99 MThis is a story about Jake Phelps that is true. We will sign it. Bet. Friday night Hellride turned into the Hellride Crew in 1993 when we bombed into Europe on a dirt-cheap travel-agency charter flight from SFO to Paris de Gaulle. Round-trip, non-refundable for around four or five-hundred dollars, we had EuroRail passes and duffle bags of top-quality gear to go with our little or no money.
   Jake showed up with a dirty-as-fuck white t-shirt that had "I love crystal meth and satan" on the front and "Fuck Per Welinder freestyle fags" Sharpie markered on the back. He looked like a pitbull that'd been trying to chew through a cyclone fence for at least a few days.
   Arco spent his last $40 on a burrito at 24th Street and a huge bottle of Jack Daniel's that got confiscated and miraculously returned at baggage claim. We were practicing our French for "suck my dick," which is "such ma bit." Our mantra changed on a daily basis from the gate.
   First train from the airport to a guy named Bamba's pad. Cardiel had to part with $20 to get the fare-evasion pigs to leave us alone and we all blamed Joey for having us export heavy trucks instead of shirts. The fuckers weigh a ton and poke you in the ribs every chance they get.

JP 98 99 z
   Me and Skip were the randoms traveling with the editor of Thrasher, the best SOTY ever and the Indy team manager back when that was almost a curse. Marseille was all Cardiel, Barcelona was all Danny Sargent, who we stuffed under the train seats since he lost or sold his passport in Amsterdam. Sarge dropped into a huge statue of a book of matches when nobody else would and of course ate shit. Madrid was all Cardiel again, kind of like Münster, Germany, ‘cept he fucked up his $14.99 department store shoes at Plaza de Colón. In Münster he cleared around 200 people going from the vert ramp to the street course quarterpipe at Jake's request. Cards divided his remaining gear up and flew home a true winner, SOTY forever.
   For Spain we all agreed it was worth the flight. Fuck the racists in Münster who had us jumped by security for our brown Native American brother, Archimedes. We don't forget, stupid roll-sport promoter. You make me embarrassed of being part German, and again, we don't forget that shit.
   Amsterdam was killer, minus the lice we got from a cheap squat we slept at, and we still love Heineken and weed menus forever.
   The UK was when Julien appeared and we actually had at least a piece of carpet to KO on. Them English breakfasts and steak and eggs are still the norm when things are going good.
   Tom "The Rock" Boyle won vert and sent me to get beer to no avail. Queens Sunday or some stupid monarchy bullshit. The best part of North Hampton was Danny Way—drop in to varial 540 and go splat on the flat. The announcer was tripping when Danny climbed up the stairs with that mean look that only he has. Of course he stuck the 540 and a bunch of other shit, like standing up on frontside noseslides across three-or-four sheets of masonite. Besides putting a picnic table through the patio windows of a shitty pub that kicked us out, he stuck a picture-perfect 360 ollie over a long box at the last minute. Jake got the picture and I'm stoked to say that I forcefully smashed kooks out of the way to clear the tarmac. He told me and Joey he wished he smoked weed before contests sooner. The rumor is he now has three varieties of wine and morphine lollipops.
   That was it. Met Phelps back in Paris and we stole every miniature on the 747 galley when the stewardesses weren't looking. Three seats each because the squares kept saying, "Take a shower," and we ventilated our stinky, blistered feet telling them to go get us one.

JP 98 99 fParis, 1995

JP 98 99 hPizzey, 1995  /  Photo: Cardiel

JP 98 99 cCoffee with Hubbard, 1995  /  Photo: Dawes

JP 98 99 iQuito, 1997  /  Photo: Dawes

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 100 101 cFollowing Steve Bailey at Japan's lost skatepark, 2000  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 100 101 dPhoto: Ogden

JP 100 101 qHellriders don’t need shirts. Early 90s

JP 100 101 yJake was constantly there to show me how I was measuring up. Not because he wanted to put me down—which he often did—he just knew what I could do or what I lacked to be better. If you didn't get heckled then he didn't care about you! Many family members, friends and fellow skateboarders have passed during my life, but I've never felt the heartache and grief I felt and am still feeling on the news of Jake's passing. I'm fairly certain he's heckling me now for feeling as I do. Jake represented everything I loved about skateboarding—raw, uninhibited, honest, in-your-fucking-face annihilation. Skate and Destroy, Phelper.

JP 100 101 a
JP 100 101 eJake, Arco, Julien, Mickey, Curtis and Joey. NYC, 1997  /  Photo: Cardiel

JP 100 101 zI went to Europe with Jake for the first time in 1990. There was some contest at the time that started in England, went over to Amsterdam, to Germany and to France up in the Alps. This dude keeps showing up—fuckin' Wheatberry. "There's that fuckin' little jerk-off from Haight street." But he was skating. He was so stoked. He was 15 years old at the time but he can go to the bottle shop and buy us beers. He was our beer slave. That's when we welcomed him into the mix of what was to come—Hellride. We get to the big contest in Germany. He just grabbed his board and marches up the stairs of the vert ramp. He's up there with the pros trying to get a run. Tony Hawk and Christian were looking at him like, What the fuck? He just drops right on in, hucks a crailslide and totally hangs it up. Slams. Frank Hawk and Titus are flippin' out. Who is this guy?! They go to kick him out. Just then Jake runs up. He's all, "It's okay; it's okay. The kid is dying of cancer. He's from the Make-A-Wish Foundation! He has six months to live. Give him a chance!" That shut them up real quick. It didn't hurt that when you looked at him you thought, Wow, yeah. He looks like he's dying of cancer. He goes back up, goes for a tailslide and hangs it up, eats shit and the crowd goes wild. They wanted to kick him out of there and now we got these first-row box seats. That was fuckin' great.

JP 100 101 fOn the train in Japan with Pete and Karma  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 100 101 wFucking Jake. The guy loved skateboarding and I loved picking his brain about all things skate. I also loved his drive to search out spots and make shit happen. He took me to Japan for my first time and we had a day to chill in Tokyo between traveling to these epic skate spots. Jake couldn't just sit around, so he got us up early and headed out to make something happen. So we hit the streets, and following Jake is not easy. First of all, he barges straight through traffic, barely not getting hit all over the place, and he's pushing fast. All of us are ten years younger than him and barely keeping up. He had the idea to find some shitty skatepark in some out-there town. So we jumped on and off trains, skated to other trains, and this is well before cell-phone maps. Jake was checking the train maps. We did this for a few hours until we actually rolled up on the shitty park. It sucked but the adventure getting there and back was seriously the most fun I had on the whole trip. And I think that's how Jake lived his life—connecting the dots, making it happen, at his own pace, his way. If you can't keep up, well, too bad! I'm gonna miss you, Jake! Thanks!

JE10At Danny Way’s Hawaii compound, 2012  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 100 101 vIn the early '90s I went to Burnside for the first time with Jake and his crew. Skating was transitioning out of vert and more into DIY underground. It was like in 1982 when vert went into backyard ramps. I think at that time, we were leading the charge of what was going to be the next phase of the Thrasher attitude towards skateboarding. You got street kinda coming in, us tranny guys were like, Ehh. Then you got guys like Julien and all of us who were more skateboard enthusiasts. It was not about just the tricks, it's about how we go to a skate spot. Who do we go with? Who's in the van? Jake being the guy at Thrasher was really taking the helm. Burnside was this whole new refreshing feeling. I was definitely rough around the edges. I wasn't completely methed out yet, but I was on my way. Young Cardiel was a crazy kid who could do anything. I see him and the crew tearing around and I was like, Where can I jump from to where? That's what I still do today—I still look for that gap that no one's doing, do it and do it my way. That was that moment. I decided to try the gap from the little quarterpipe into the deep bowl. They were like, What? I thought it was cool because it wasn't in their wheelhouse. Small wheels, little board, it was a crazy time.

JP 100 101 b
I was going big and those guys definitely motivated me to push it and land it. I just wanted to be part of the gang. I still want to be that. With Jake, both of us pushed each other and found out we both loved the same thing. That was the common denominator that really made us respect each other. We knew how much we really cared about what we were doing. Not about our jobs, not about the money, not about the fame, but about how much we loved and cherished skateboarding. Period. Doing it. The act of skateboarding with your friends. Burnside, with Jake, we wanted to push each other to stoke the homies. That's the ultimate in skateboarding, to stoke your bros—to celebrate that moment and push every one of us to do the same. You don't leave anyone out. That's what being in the van together is all about.

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 102 103 cAustralian Outback, 2005  /  Photo: Hubbard

JP 102 103 dIt was a Volcom trip to Australia and it started in Perth and I guess Jake always wanted to drive across Australia so he just went and got himself a rental car and invited me to go along with him and Hubbard. We were The Rocking Vicars, dressed up as priests for some reason. There are long stretches with no civilization so you have to plan out your route and those guys were flooring it the whole time, just pedal to the metal as fast as the thing could go. So we were flying down these little two-lane roads, one way each, and no shoulder or anything. My concern was the fuel economy because that's just what I think about 'cause I'm retarded. Crashing did not cross my mind. I was just like, Oh, they can't be flooring it. That's not good for fuel economy. I kept thinking, How are we gonna make those long stretches where there's no gas station? Jake was driving and Hubbard was in shotgun and I was sleeping in the seat behind Jake. Hubbard was sleeping too. Jake was trying to get his camera to take a photo. He reached for his camera that was by Hubbard's feet and kind of swerved a little bit. Hubbard woke up and thought Jake had fallen asleep and so he just reached over and grabbed the wheel. When you're going that fast it doesn't take much, and the thing just started fishtailing right away.

JP 102 103 a
So that's when I woke up—just in time to start flying. It was a very strange thing, to go off the road when you're going that fast. The weirdest part for me was that it hit the ground and it would make a loud noise and then it was so quiet while we were flipping. Just flying through the air with silence and you know it's coming, you know something's coming. Then it would hit the ground, loud noise, then more silence, hit the ground, loud noise, more silence. We did that like two or three times and then I thought we were still flying. I thought it was never gonna end but after a couple seconds it was like, Oh shit, we're done flying now and I guess we're all still alive. Then Jake was like, "Hubbard? Dennis? Everybody okay?" We just crawled out of that thing and the first thing I said was, "You broke my headphones!" I don't know why the fuck I said that. I just had to say something. We hitchhiked to the closest town and went straight to the bar. At the bar we were kind of going over it and and Jake's like, "Yeah, you can punch me if you want to. I deserve it." I was like, "Yeah, you do," and I punched him as hard as I could in the face. And, oh, man, probably so many people are gonna vicariously live through this part of the story! I got a free punch to Jake's face and yeah, knocked his glasses off and knocked him off the barstool. I guess I pack a lot more punch than he thought. The bartenders didn't like that and they kicked us out but it was good fun. A lot of people say it about Jake, but he's the real deal. He was always true. Even when he was full of shit he was true in a weird way. He always stayed true to himself.

JP 102 103 bThe Rockin’ Vicars – Dennis, Jake and Marty, 2005

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 104 105 cStoking the crowd in Quito, Ecuador  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 104 105 eRed Square  /  Photo: Dawes

JE1 Lance and Jake, 2009  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 104 105 zI only went on one trip with Jake, to Marseilles with him and Joey Tershay. We all shared a room and they were arguing the entire time—picking and pointing, whatever they normally do. Next thing I know they're throwing each other's stuff out the window. So Jake says, "Okay, that's it! Tomorrow you're going down!" The next day we're at the park skating around and Jake slams right into him, on purpose. They both got laid out and I think Joey's knee got twisted. And from what I know I never saw them together again. It was heavy. Jake was willing to run into someone to make his point and it didn't go unnoticed.

JP 104 105 a
I don't need to be in those situations. It's too passionate to the point of losing friends. But I would say that having a voice in skateboarding where there's a real opinion is so necessary. Now that we lost one of the strongest, real opinions we're left with a lot of soft opinions and that's dangerous. Sometimes you need some voices that are too loud, too obnoxious, too mean, too whatever. Something has to hold the standard. You can't manufacture that. You can't manufacture those opinions; they're just there. I respect Jake 100 percent for standing up for his opinions. But I hope he and Joey squashed it.

JP 104 105 iEgypt

JP 104 105 dEaster Island

JP 104 105 gHewitt hits 10:15. San Angelo, TX  /  Photo: Salba

JP 104 105 xI went with Jake, Salba and Blackhart up to this pipe called San Angelo. Blackhart was being a fucking freak, totally noisy and lighting off fireworks. He was doing all kinds of crazy shit. We get up into the pipe and realize it's so hard to ride. There were bike marks in there and Jake was telling me that I had to get above those marks. I worked on getting up there and ended up doing it, then we went to the back of the pipe. There was a hole back there and I dared Jake to climb up and stick his head through it, which he did of course. When we got busted, they told us that when they release the water tons of it pours through that hole. If we were in there when they turned it on, we would've been found miles down the spillway. The whole thing was littered with turtle shells everywhere, so I grabbed one. After that, it was kind of scary because we were all in a jail cell—Salba was really bummed and Blackhart was doing some weird-ass shit in the corner. Salba was freaking out, talking about, "What am I going to tell Jesse?" But I said to him, "Don't tell him anything! He's, like, six years old." We were eating peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, all the while Jake's making super light of the situation. It ended up being a super fun experience—my first time in jail. He knew that I was not comfortable at all in that environment but he made it not a big deal. "Look at Salba; look at Blackhart; check that freak out. What's he doing over there?" It was looking so abysmal but he convinced me how it was rad and that I was going to remember this. This was right when Schmitty first started working at the magazine and we started the webpage—it was right around those times. We were sending Schmitty shit for the web which was totally advanced for the time. We were going out to Colorado, skating these fullpipes and doing these missions.

JP 104 105 fTexas 2002  /  Photo: Ogden
JP 104 105 h

JP 104 105 bPeter Hewitt. Quito, Ecuador, 1998  /  Photo: Ogden

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 106 107 dD Way’s second SOTY speech, 2004  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 106 107 xI want to shine light on Jake's commitment to living out the most grassroots skateboarding lifestyle one can live in this evolved modern, now mainstream industry. Jake's role as being the gatekeeper to what skate lifestyle really meant has been so crucial to keeping those aspects alive within the culture that attracted so many to it over the years. Grassroots skateboarding heritage is always at risk and now more than ever since the Olympics got involved. When I heard about the Olympics it made me worry about what this would do to what we all have dedicated our whole lives to. When it was first announced my first thought was, Thank God we still have Jake to protect us. I'm so scared for what is at risk without the endemic skate guard on duty. I think everyone can agree Jake's role was and has been such a blessing for protecting all of us and our grassroots-minded skate community. There are not many guys—or maybe any—that could play this role and get the respect Jake did.

JP 106 107 b
No one could ever replace Jake and his knowledge bank or charisma that drove his ability to be the face and voice of skateboarding's only true bible: Thrasher magazine. Jake and I have had a bond since I was a young teen because we both shared the same true passion and mindset that drove the commitment to our processes. Jake and I discussed so many things about skate history and the future of skateboarding over the years. He not only inspired me but he educated me as well. I have learned so much about skateboard history from him and we have also manifested visions together that drove my progressive mindset of pioneering new innovations with ramp designs and trick ideas. Jake always had my back and always supported everything I did which meant so much to me over the years. I really appreciated him for that and loved him deeply. Jake was the truth and he will never really die. Maybe his body has, but his voice, energy and spirit will always live inside me and skateboarding forever.
JE9Heckled in Hawaii, 2012  /  Photo: Burnett


JP 106 107 cDanny at the Great Wall of China, 2005  /  Photo: Phelps

JP 106 107 eWTFITM?  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 106 107 aButch in the meat locker, 1998  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 106 107 zThe first time I met Jake I could barely speak a word of English. It was April 1998, right after I backside 180'd Wallenberg. I went to High Speed to get some Thrasher gear and he showed me the proof print of the next mag with the sequence in the Contents page! He read the copy, "Remember this name..." and said something like, "It's showtime." The next day, he and Mickey drove me to the burliest spots in the City and tried to make me do the most insane stunts. Even though I was not able to talk to them, I earned their respect by basically telling them to fuck off whenever I didn't want to try something. Months later, we spent a lot of time together in the office. Phil and I would drive from Palo Alto every morning, since he worked at the mag. I would learn English and then go out with Luke to shoot photos.
   So one day Jake asked me, "All South American guys have nicknames. What's yours?" And I told him that some people called me Labucha and others just Bucha. So he said, "Your last name, it's too hard to pronounce. You are from Argentina, you love meat and your hands look like knives when you skate. You are the Butcher! Chop-chop!" I laughed, grabbed my Spanish-English pocket dictionary, looked up "butcher" and when I saw "carnicero" I thought, That's perfect. I will never forget the day that Phil died. I was devastated, I wanted to go back home but Jake grabbed me around my neck and told me, "I got your back, kid!" We did some miles; we talked for hours; we skated it all. Wherever you went, I hope you are getting some.
   Love you.

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 108 109 bAt the first Bust or Bail, 2008  /  Photo: Brook

JP 108 109 zWhen Jake attended my wedding in Colorado he was on his best behavior. He hung out all day and night with my friends and family, even engaging my elderly grandfather in a long conversation about baseball. While returning to town in the shuttle bus down twisty Boulder Canyon, he led the guests in a chant of "OFF THE CLIFF! OFF THE CLIFF!" and once there he instantly provoked a tussle between the wedding party and some local frat boys. As the cops showed up, lights flashing, he and my friend Eric jumped on a passing bus, laughing as they watched everyone else deal with the aftermath. Whenever anyone talks about that special day, it's always the first thing they bring up.

JP 108 109 dHammer time around the office

JP 108 109 yFirst up last down.
Wheels screaming down Dolores, one final ride.
Too much too soon, but never enough
for you.
You gave us juice, you put our whole
crew on.
Kid coming down the mountain, face
of impending doom, you wrote those rules for us to enjoy, month after month you kept us going.
You gave it all to this thing, our way of life. It burns you down, but brings you up the highest and you were hooked on it more than me.
Wish I coulda took one more ride
with you, Old Man.
Not a day goes by that I don't think
of you.
Eternally grateful to be your friend.
I love you, Old Man.

JP 108 109 e

JP 108 109 fCarbondale connections, 2004  /  Photo: Ogden

JP 108 109 gJake and Digs

JP 108 109 xJake and I were friends and rivals, road dogs and lovers of skateboarding. When we first met I was 19, new to SF and had just gotten a job in the darkroom at Thrasher. We bonded over being from the East Coast and growing up in the hardcore scene—SSD, Jerry's Kids, Bad Brains and Void. We recited lyrics, told stories of shows and debated who was the best band in the world. A few years later, when I started Slap magazine, he was the only one in the building to say, "Good luck," and was always there to tell me when I fucked up or when he thought I did something right. We traveled the world together—South America, Dubai, Russia and all over the States. I saw him get arrested in Louisville for shooting a kid in the chest with a Roman Candle and talk his way out of it. He told the cops, "Don't you know who I am?! Google my name!!" I also saw him walk through the door at a White Flag show in Seattle with Gonz and instantly get into a fight.

JP 108 109 a
Once, we picked up two girls and died laughing when one gave him a foot massage and smelled his feet. We watched a riot in Quito, Ecuador while sitting on top of the fullpipe in bewilderment. He was a tough nut with soft spots and called it like it was. You were either in or you were OUT! He was the truest skateboarder I know, a beacon of keeping it real—a part of skateboarding is gone now and there's no one in line to fill his shoes. He used to say, "Skateboarding owes you nothing; you owe everything to skating." Well, I think we all owe a thank you to Jake, a fist pump, finger to the sky, a "Get some, fucker!" I love you, Jake, and hope we'll see each other again.

JP 108 109 hKing of the Road, 2005  /  Photo: Dawes

JP 108 109 iThis seat taken?  /  Photo: Broach

JP 108 109 wNobody got kicked off more flights than Jake. If his outfit didn't raise red flags (cut-off Dickies, two vests, no shirt and a skateboard), it may have been the fact that he was always fucking yelling. Travel was one of Jake's favorite things and he didn't keep his emotions bottled up. "Fuck! YES!" he would often bellow upon entering or exiting an aircraft or while barging through security. Even on Southwest, aka the Spring Break airline, this sort of thing typically raises alarm. Connecting flights were especially challenging for Phelper. He once flew all the way to Germany (en route to South Africa) only to be held in security for eight hours before being denied and sent right back home. Another time he was supposed to meet us on Maui for a SOTY trip but got off the plane in Honolulu instead. "Yeah, I'm on the fuckin' curb!" he told me. "Jake, wrong island," I explained, "You've still got one more flight." Jake's solution—hop on the next flight to Chicago. Never one for sitting still, he once jumped off a layover in Las Vegas yet somehow beat us to our final destination. I've seen him barge first class, clear entire rows with his stench and help himself to a tray of those miniature liquor bottles. He and P-Stone on board together could be a thing of hilarious beauty. The fact that he never made the FAA no-fly list is but another of the great Jake Phelps miracles. —Michael Burnett

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 110 111 bSept 3, 2005  /  Photo: Ohio Dave

JP 110 111 WJake and I talked about starting a band in 2005 at the Marseille Bowlrider's contest. In between burning boards and garbage, breaking bottles and pissing off every Frenchman around, he cooked up this idea—he would write the lyrics and I would come up with the music. One thing was missing: a drummer. Jake put me on the mission of finding one. I knew exactly who to call. Once we were back Stateside, I texted a friend of mine, Ashley James, later to be dubbed "Trixie" by Jake. I wrote to her, "You still hittin' the skins?" She wrote, "Fuck yeah!"
   Next step, Jake insisted we go and see her play in the band she was currently in, as somewhat of an audition. So Jake and I happened to be in Los Angeles at the same time as Ashley. We were there for the Vans Downtown Showdown. She was there playing her last gig in this all-girl psychobilly band at the Knitting Factory off Hollywood Boulevard. It was some "spooky, fuzzy dicer fest" as Jake would say. It was pretty funny seeing him amongst the brightly colored pompadours in his John Dillinger shirt. Jake was pretty satisfied on what he saw when Ash finally hit the stage. He knew right away this was it. This was the third piece of our puzzle. In his true fashion he split without finishing the show and without saying later.

JP 110 111 d
   Back at the hotel, when we all converged in our room, we went ballistic. Not only did we start the band, it was Ashley's 23rd birthday and cause for celebration! Jake ordered Ash a dessert that ended up all over the floor. He was at full volume, screaming, "Murder, murder!" or "Kill, kill, kill!" He created a crime scene of ketchup and was just really hyping us up on this band idea of his. He said he wanted songs about murder, killing, death, partying, friends and skating. We were ready to get fucking noisy, obnoxious, travel, skate and be the best/worst party band in skateboarding. Jake ordered Dave Smith to take the band's first photo. Here it is, thanks to Jake. Jake made Shit happen.
   Bad Shit.

JP 110 111 aHammond, LA. Skate Rock, 2013  /  Photo: Brook

JP 110 111 c
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 112 113 d
JP 112 113 z"MORE, MORE, MOOOOOOORE!" is all I heard echoing in the dark alleyways of Barcelona. I was already over Jake after the Amsterdam shit-show mess the week before. It was a hot, sweaty, sticky summer of 2008. The pay phone ate all our coins because Jake wrote the tour guy's number down wrong. We were just marinating. I was burnt out, pushing was hard, the bags were heavy and I wasn't drinking this one numb because I was five-months pregnant. We had no plan, but to stick with this Spanish mission. P-Stone was with us keeping the levels balanced through this sweltering shit. What's the best thing to do when you have no destination? "Skatepark, doi," as Jake would say. He wore his bandana, Carhartt vest with no shirt, baggy pants, one quitter sock and his how-do-you-still-find-those Marc Johnson Emericas. We went to the skatepark and there we found some people that were happy to have us over, hook up a show and even make the flyer. Damn. Done. That night, everyone went to the bar and I stayed in the apartment to sleep off another blasting headache. A couple of people that lived there were partying and speaking Spanish so fast, making my head spin. I'm on a mattress in a hallway with no sheets that smells of sour milk and blood. I smell something creep into the room that smelled worse. Fuck. No. Speed. Then I hear Jake outside the apartment as the boys were coming back from the bar, screaming at the top of his lungs, waking the dead, "MORE, MORE, MOOOOOOORE!" Once the guys came into the apartment, the speed freak party moved to another apartment and we all passed out.

JP 112 113 g
   The next morning, we hop on a train to some town near a beach. We still can't recall the name of it. We went up to someone's house in the hills. Mansion party! Okay, a big stage built on a huge lawn. We were into it but it was taking forever and Jake was making everyone know he was over waiting and antsy to play, "NOW, NOW, NOWWWWW!" We finally got on stage to play, but Jake just simply forgot how to play every song. Or any song. We couldn't get through one fucking song. We start getting booed and shit thrown at us. I screamed at Jake to play or get the fuck off the stage. I said, "The band is a joke and you're done." Bad Shit broke up on stage. He walked away laughing. Tony and I played some of the set. The plug was pulled and replaced with the techno garbage they were playing earlier. We slept at the mansion, but the next morning had a rude awakening. The Spaniards wanted us out of their house. They hadn't slept. They were laughing like hyenas and kept spraying all four of us with hoses out front. Jake flipped them off and hopped on his board. I hopped on mine and followed him. The street appeared mellow, but I started gaining speed fast and a car came the opposite way. I got the wobs and went down hard. I turned around to see P-Stone walking the hill and he told me that my slam was in the memory banks forever. Tony was pissed that I even attempted the "mellow" hill bomb. I was so pissed, I threw my board at a parked car and it bounced back, popping me in the shin. Frustration station, marination station and now we need to find the fucking train station to get out of this hell hole. Pushing in the sweltering heat—again—and looking for a bus to take to a train station to get back to Barcelona felt endless. We were sitting in this hot bus-stop box waiting on a bus that was never coming, and that's when Jake looked at me, sweating profusely, smiled and said, "Damn, this is a motherfuckin' Hellride, Trix." I agreed; it was hell.
   We finally flagged down a cab that would only take two people at a time. I was in the first one and the driver took us to an abandoned train station. I think I blacked out in the heat wave, because I have no clue how I found the right place with no more money, mobile or map. Eventually we all somehow got to the right station. We hit the marble floor and just melted. Jake kept a smirk on his face, and would laugh out loud with grunts, "UHHH, UHHH, UHHHHHH!" echoing in that station. Even when the suffering peaked, he always wanted more.

JP 112 113 aFlipped out, Bad Shit

JP 112 113 cParis, 2011  /  Photo: Atiba

JP 112 113 bOpening for Dinosaur Jr., 2011  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 112 113 eJake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 114 115 aArt by Neckface

JE14Cinco De Slammo, 2016  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 114 115 zSeven AM. "You ready, kid? Skate Rock Africa! It's fuckin on!" Jake would call early as hell in the morning, so fired up as if he had already been up for hours and was waiting until he thought I was up. I could hear him foaming at the mouth out of pure excitement to get on the road. "UGHHHHH! We're gonna fuckin' burn it down, Neck! It's on! I need you to draw it up for the mag. I need fuckin' embers, a village burnt to the fuckin' ground and two skaters that are just spent, tired 'cause they skated and burnt everything to the ground and skated it. Ohhh, and eyes. We need eyes lookin through the fuckin' burnt-down village!" "Fuck yeah, Jake! Let's burn the village!" I say. Now he's got me all fired up at 7 AM and I haven't even taken my morning shit yet! "Yeah, burn the village. That's what we're gonna call it," he says. Then he would just hang up. That's usually how it went when we would collaborate on art for Skate Rock and a bunch of other shit for the mag.
   Most of these drawings I did were Jake's ideas. He just needed someone to translate the chaos in his brain into art, whether it was for the mag or for a t-shirt to sell during Skate Rock or both. I'm talking about Jake Phelps the art director and how he would come up with these sick ideas and I would draw 'em up! A match made in hell, we were.
   I usually don't let anyone tell me what to fuckin' draw—ever—but Jake and I were both on the same fuckin' page—bouncing ideas back and forth, word play, figuring out names for the article, headlines and other shit. Within minutes we would have the whole shit figured out, all while you were still in bed sleeping, cuddling up with your pillow or girlfriend if you got one, but probably pillow.

JP 114 115 g
   The ideas he would come up with were always sick. Sometimes it was as if he could predict how the trip was gonna go, 'cause in Africa we burnt that place to the ground! Not literally—I mean, some fires were us but not all of them! We escaped death there too. Our brakes went out in the van on the steepest dirt hill in Africa and we were heading to our doom until Nuge saved us by crashing the runaway van into a house. We all get out of the van and Jake stayed in it and he was just laughing—laughing at how we all just escaped death. We left Africa spent and tired. We gave it everything we had and we burnt that place down just like he said in the drawing! It really felt like we became the drawing I did for the trip.
   Another seven AM call: "It's on! Skate Rock! We're going from Detroit to New York. It's gonna be fuckin' brutal! They're gonna need a fuckin' army to stop us! That's it! Draw up one of your demons going up against the entire city and the army. The demon is fighting them off with his board or some shit." "Hell yeah, Jake. I got you!" I would get to workin' on the new drawing and I would be so hyped to draw it because I already knew how sick the trip was gonna be. That was the deal: I draw it up—I get on the trip. I was already going but doing the drawing was a sure in. Thirty minutes after I got the call to do the drawing, Jake calls. "You done?!" "What? I just hung up the phone with you, Jake. It'll be done tonight," I say. He comes back with, "Neck, there's no time. We need it now." I say, "Chill, Jake, there's time. There's always time to die." Then he says, "That's it. We're calling it that: ‘There's always time to die.' Perfect."

JP 114 115 bAlways watchin’, 2011  /  Photo: Burnett

   I finish drawing up the Skate Rock monster fighting off the entire city and army, helicopters and shit, straight Godzilla style. I turn it in and Jake says, "Hell yeah, Neck! Let's do this! Let's get on the fuckin' road!" That trip was insane. Sure enough we all turned into my drawing, just like he said, 'cause we were fighting every city we went to. We all turned into that monster I drew. Helicopters were lookin for us, cops and shit. It was nuts. Whenever he would tell me to draw up these crazy ideas they always made sense and never felt out of my league. Demons and skating? Yeah, I got that shit.
   For Skate Rock Mexico, he already had a name. He wanted to call it "In Cold Blood." "Can you say that shit in Mex?" he asked me 'cause I'm Mexican. "En sangre fria," I replied, "Yes, hell yes." Again, I could hear him foaming at the mouth like a pitbull about to be let loose inside a mini mall. He was hella excited and I was too.
"We need a fuckin' demon skating a grave, 'cause we skating your grave when you dead, son!" he yelled." And draw a guy coming out of the grave trying to grab his fuckin' board." "Ha! Sick, Jake. I'll get right on it." I draw it up and turn it in and he says it's perfect. "We're family, Neck. We work good together." "Hell yeah, Jake. We family forever."

JP 114 115 h
   About an hour after I heard that P-Stone had passed I get a call from Jake. This time he's pissed and I could hear it in his voice. He says, "I need Preston coming out of the fuckin' grave with a camera in one hand and a fuckin' brew in the other!" Then he hung up! That's all he said. No "sorry for your loss" or any of that shit. I didn't know what the drawing was for but I wasted no time and got to drawing with tears in my eyes 'cause we just lost our friend. I finished it just like Jake said and showed it to him. He said, "Perfect. Thanks. Big love, Neck." We made shirts and sold them, then gave all the money to Stone's family and that was that.
   Now that my friend Jake's dead and gone, I ask myself: How the hell would Jake want me to draw him now that he's gone? Chillin' with some angels up in heaven with angel wings and shit? Nah. Maybe Jake throwing up a peace sign with a sick banner with his name on it below? Hell the fuck no! How about Jake as a demon rolling into a crusty burnt-up ramp that goes straight into the depths of hell, with hands reaching up from the fire, P-Stone and Hubbard's tombstones in the background and at the top write "My friends are gonna be there too." Hell yeah! Now that sounds more like it, Jake! Coming right up, Old Man! This one's for you! Forever, Jake! For fuckin' ever! Love, NECK.

JP 114 115 c
JP 114 115 q
JP 114 115 f
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1JP 116 117 eWallenberg, 2009  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 116 117 dTommy and Jake, San Diego, 2016  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 116 117 zI'm hyped to have some of the best moments of my career under the wing of Jake Phelps and Thrasher. I can only remember Jake with a smile and appreciate the time we spent. He believed in everything skateboarding—it was basically his religion. The true fuck it attitude and whatever he said came across straight as can be, whether it was a fact or he was talking shit. I would always talk to him before and after all the Thrasher contests I skated, sharing some random shit talk for a bit then having a real moment getting to see the true Jake. He was a real, genuine person with a heart that overflowed with love for skateboarding! Thank you for all you have done. One-hundred-percent skateboarder.

JP 116 117 c"Fools bustin' and gettin' broke the fuck off." Bust or Bail, 2008  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 116 117 fWallenberg, 2009

JP 116 117 gWallenberg, 2004

JP 116 117 bJake, Fausto and the Crocker crew

JE11Byron, Raney Beres

JP 116 117 yI was just at the right place at the right time. I'm just a regular skateboarder. I met Jake at Crocker park when I was 12. The park was sketchy, but it was all we had and we skated it every day. What Jake has done for me, no stranger should have to do. My parents didn't have much money, so I didn't have a lot of stuff or get to go places with them because they always had to work. Jake made up for that. He'd take me places, give me shoes, boards, advice on life—he even gave me my first job at the mag. But the most important thing he gave me was his friendship. Who knows where I'd be if I never went to the park that day we met? I'm here because he kept me around. All my friends became my brothers because of him and for that I'm very grateful. I love you, Jake. Thank you for taking a chance on that little brown kid so long ago.

JP 116 117 hCarbondale mud bath, 2004  /  Photo: Burnett

JE4Check out time with The Gut. Paris, 2011  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 116 117 wJake would often take me and my skatepark buddies on a random rendezvous to a park or pool he caught wind of. But in 2004 he presented us with this trip—to Carbondale, CO, for some KOTR meet-up deal. I wondered, Why bring us at all?, but figured it must be a pay-it-forward scenario. He was gonna show us the way. It ended up being this mega-session and the unstoppable antics that followed were what we were all into, but what Jake fully lived for—to step back and be like, Look what we just accomplished. It was my introduction to traveling with Jake, and situations like that kept the band together. He'd tilt his head and squint, watching somebody carve a bowl and I could feel how much it meant to him. And that's how much he meant to us.

JP 116 117 iRoad tax. Summer 2004  /  Photo: Ogden

JE15Jordan, Lemmy  /  Photo: P-Stone

JP 116 117 qI grew up a few blocks from the Crocker Amazon skatepark and my friends and I skated it every day since they poured the flatbottom in 2000. People would come and go, but Jake was always a part of the crew. Every time we saw his '72 Ford Fairlane, aka "Piggy," pulling in from across the lot, we know the session was about to be on. One time Jake came in so hot he gassed it across the gravel parking lot without giving himself enough room to slow down. I think he was going for some sort of stunt-driver maneuver like he was going to do a sliding 180 into a parking spot, pop the trunk and grab his board. He ended up popping up the curb and crashing into the fence.

JP 116 117 a
"I was just hyped to skate with my friends! It's all good. I got AAA," he explained. And we were hyped to skate with him. It was nothing but pure stoke. In between runs we would sit on the ledge and talk about skating, music and traveling. Those conversations solidified my dream of working for Thrasher. He encouraged me to get a camera, shoot photos of my friends and submit whatever. Jake made my dream a reality. Thank you for everything. Skateboarding don't owe us shit, but we owe it to you to skate every day we can.

JP 116 117 kGood ol’ Crocker  /  Photo: Goto

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 118 119 bSkate Rock, Mexico  /  Photo: Brook

JP 118 119 zWhenever, wherever, Jake was down. Get the van, get the crew and go! He was always first out of the van, getting the first rides, revvin' the locs and gettin the crew hyped. Almost all of our trips, he had done the miles before or had been there multiple times and had heavy stories for every spot. Hearing the history about a spot and him telling you 20 years ago they "burned the place to the ground" would really put the fire in you to get some. He encouraged you to push yourself, to go for it—by screaming from the van, honking the horn, yelling, "You fuckin' got this. Put it down!" Coming from the Phelper, those words really meant something, and sure enough, a few tries later there's the roll away. A true road warrior gone too soon, his words will forever be with us on the road. Big love for the block. Rip ride in peace.

JP 118 119 aGrant Taylor, Cayman Islands, 2014

JP 118 119 cSkate Rock China, 2011  /  Photo: Hammeke

JP 118 119 yAs a lot of you know, it's nearly impossible to write just one story about Jake. Because 1) If you have ever been around him then you know about 40 stories can happen right there on the spot in ten minutes. And 2) If he tells you a story then it turns into 100 stories in five minutes. So I'm just gonna tell you guys a bunch of things that have happened while with Jake.
   About two days before my first Skate Rock we were at a bowling alley and he asked if I was in a band. I said, "No." He said, "Well, Figgy is right there so start a band and I'll see you in Australia in two days!" We almost named the band 48 Hours for obvious reasons, but ended up naming it LSDemon. That was one of the craziest trips I've been on—ever! That was my first Skate Rock. And just like that, the crew that was on that trip became forever a part of this traveling circus, if you will. He is the one that always got the crew together. He always said, "Let's stay on the road. Let's do this forever for the ones who can't." We've played and skated in the grungiest places known to man, for instance, a South African ghetto called Soweto. These people had never even seen a skateboard or heard that kind of music. And this was all Jake's call. He wanted to go to these places that no skater had gone and blow these kids' minds and leave a mark when we left. Leave an imprint of what we thought skateboarding should be—which is to travel the world and have a good time doing it with your friends. And also leave some supplies for them to grow into and hopefully go back one day and see the progression. Fast forward seven Skate Rocks and plenty of miles, a lot of funny shit has happened.
   I've seen him walk into a store, grab whatever and just walk out. Who is gonna question this old dude? And if they do he just mumbles some shit and he's gone. He's no angel but he's not a bad guy either. He walks that fine line where either you wanna hate him or absolutely love him. We got kicked out of China and had to retreat to Thailand. After hours of waiting in the customs line, Phelps finally made it through, only to yell, "Fuck yesssssss!" as loud as he could out of pure stoke. Nope, went straight into isolation for three hours of questioning. They thought he said "Fuck you," to the customs agents, but once again he pulled it together and made it into Thailand. He would always ask, "Who the fuck gets to do this?" And he was right. Don't ever take shit for granted. I asked him once, "How much do these trips cost?" He replied, "Maybe our lives." Plain and simple and with a straight fucking face. When he would say things they would resonate in my brain. I would find myself repeating them over and over in my mind.

JP 118 119 e
   He's a true road warrior, always screaming, "Turn it up!" even when it's already turned up. He's the guy that could get lost but was never lost because that's just where he wanted to be. You can't be lost if you don't have a destination. He was an encyclopedia of not just skateboarding, but music and history in general. He knew a lot about a lot.
Also, the way he lived was him everyday. He wasn't acting like Phelps—he WAS Phelps and it was an amazing thing to witness. There will never be another Jake Phelps.
I called him "bud" once and he said, "I ain't your buddy. I'm your fucking friend. Don't call me bud." You were right, my friend, and for that I'm gonna miss having those talks with you. I know you're up there watching so I'm gonna try my best not to kook it!
   To end it I'm gonna leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the man himself: "Get in the fucking van!, Turn it up! Let's get the fuck outta here! Burn it down! Skateboarding doesn't owe you shit."

JP 118 119 dEyes on the prize. Skate Rock, 2013  /  Photo: Brook

JP 118 119 wWe were in the middle of nowhere in Mexico, drivin' through these shanty towns and we roll up on this massive abandoned park—big, gnarly trannies, gap to hubbas, weird rails, with pot holes, rocks and broken glass all over the place. First one I see droppin' in is Jake, catchin' scratches first run. It was fuckin' sketchy! Next thing I see is him loop out on some QP straight to his ass! He limps off into the bushes. He comes walkin' back. I ask, "You good?" He said, "I shifted the tectonic plates!" I started laughing and I look up and see his dirt blood grungies in the bushes. Dude shit his pants out the gates and kept fuckin' skating! One of toughest dudes I've ever met on and off the board. Love you, Jake.

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 120 121 bJake and Spanky, 2010  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 120 121 aBaca runs the gauntlet, 2010  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 120 121 zJust got to Atlanta for Skate Rock. I was posted, smoking a J in my room, and heard, "Where's Baca?!" I felt the rumble go past my door. It was P-Stone and Jake and mad fools. I came out and P-Stone charged me full speed! I just moved out of the way and he went flyin' down the hall, then we wrestled, smashing into the walls. Then we all go in this room partying—there's like 20 fools. Phelps slaps the shit outta me, so I slapped his glasses off his face and he pushed me into P-Stone and then P-Stone launched me. I've got all his force and I pushed Phelps with it! This fool went flying, hit his head and was knocked out before he hit the floor. Blood started seeping into the carpet around his head. I thought I killed him. I was like, Fuck! Then Schmitty tried to leave the room ‘cause of the blood and passed out head first right by him! Jake came to, we went to the hospital and I think he got seven staples. This was all in the first 30 minutes of Skate Rock. So a couple days days later Uncle Neck asks, "You wanna play this game? Stand on this line and you can't move. You gotta dodge Roman candles." I was with it and there's Jake with the Roman candle like 20 feet away. I dodged the first two and then BOOM! One to the neck! So I dipped off and thought I was good, then the homie said, "Hey, your shirt's on fire!" It burnt my neck. Shit was gangrene and melted my tattoo off! So Jake says, "Now we're even!" and just died laughing. I fuckin' loved that man. He was the truth, is the truth and will always be the truth!

JP 120 121 c
JP 120 121 yPhelper was pretty much always right since day one! The words he would say just stuck in my brain, like something that was more important than common sense. I'd say, "Phelper, I'm gonna try and land that switch tailslide." Phelper would bark back, "You ain't gonna try, kid. You're gonna make it!" That's skateboarding right there at its purest! All he did was fire up skateboarding! He fired it up for the real skaters—the ones who live it. No matter if you're working a full-time job or feel depressed, skating is your way out. Friends like Phelper become your family forever. I was with him a few months ago and he was so full of energy. You know he's rocking up in heaven with Stone, Hubbard and the rest of the crew. The lessons were passed to us. Now all we can do is keep the torch running! Keep skateboarding real, especially for yourself. Phelper blessed! Thank you forever! You and Stone are my real-life heroes.

JP 120 121 k
JP 120 121 eThrash N Burn, 2017  /  Photo: Brook

JP 120 121 wQuito, Ecuador, HELLRIDE, the trip of a lifetime! Monk, Jake, the ATL crew—next fucking level on the revs. Jake is the type of guy who would play a heavy rock show on the fly in South America. Frankie G was supposed to play drums as the crowd yelled for the Editor in Chief to riff their faces off. I crowd surfed across the venue and into the rafters trying to find a bass guitar to back him up. No guitar. No Frank to be found. Pop-up local legend drummer jumps on the set and Jake starts playing guitar. Song one—20 seconds of shred as the crowd started throwing their bodies. I toss Jake the mic and he passes me the guitar. I start riffing and Jake sees a girl across the crowd. He walks up to her, grabs her head and just kisses her on the face! The story is in print in the mag, but what was crazy is all this probably happened in a two-minute time span. The cops showed up and began to raid the venue. There was tear gas and rioting in the streets out front as walls of motorcycles cleared the place out. Jake had the heart and soul, the rough and real, an abstract conscience that will be with me every time I step on stage and on my skateboard. He's the inspiration this planet needs!

JP 120 121 hIn the trunk with the ‘Body

JP 120 121 rA long time ago Jake told me, "I don't rate you very high as a skater, but I rate you hella high as a person. That's why I take you around with me." That actually meant a lot to me. Everywhere in the world I've been was because of Jake. He would get all of us together with a crazy master plan and set a fire. From bombin' hills with him and the boys in SF late night, to hills in Sydney, Australia, pushing through the streets of Vietnam, skating the Great Wall of China, the long layovers, long talks, early mornings in a shit hotel in the middle of nowhere, wake you up just to talk about whatever—and that's just the tip of the iceberg. We love you, Jake.

JP 120 121 fWatching Pfanner, Thrash n Burn, 2016

JP 120 121 qI'm really grateful that I had the opportunity to be on the road with Jake, but the trip that stands out the most was the one we did to Greece in October, 2016. Jake had never been to Greece before and after a few phone calls and texts we had everything planned out and were ready to go.
   Jake saw a lot over the years and I always had a feeling that he needed to keep rolling in order to stay excited and avoid any dull moments. This is something that is very common about people that are highly intelligent. Anyone that ever had the chance to engage in a conversation with Jake in a quiet moment surely noticed his knowledge, which consisted of way more than just skateboarding.
   We covered a lot of ground on that trip and I really got to know him well through the conversations we had over coffee in the mornings. He helped me discover and learn a lot about myself—in a way that you would learn by talking to an older brother or uncle. We talked about our families, growing up and what skateboarding had taken us through and brought to us. He was always honest and straightforward, which might have been harsh for some people at times. His vision of life, which he always translated with skateboarding, gave me confidence and strength which I apply to many facets of my life today.
   I got the news of his passing right when I was preparing to head to Greece again. I started off with a heavy heart thinking about the last trip, because both Jake and Preston were with us. Looking back and remembering everything Jake ever said to me motivated me to go into the trip and make it a memorable one, exactly like he would have wanted it. There was such a strong energy present at every session, like they were both always watching. I'm gonna always think he is right there, still watching and yelling, "GET SOME!"
Rest in peace, my friend. I'll always miss you and will never forget you. Thank you for everything.

JP 120 121 iJake and Puds, 2009  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 120 121 SI first met Jake Phelps sometime around early 1998. I️ was seven years old. Jake came through Simi Valley to check out Skatelab when it opened. He was with Curtis Hsiang and Luke Ogden. We ended up seshing the bowl together and they were so impressed they snapped a few pics. Thrasher featured Skatelab in a little article with a photo of me doing a frontside air. The caption was something like, "Skateparks breed skate kids." Jake never forgot that night and he always wanted me to remember how it was an honor that he gave me my first photo in the mag. Every time I've seen Jake for the last 20 years he's said, "Frontside air at Simi Valley ‘98, first photo in Thrasher, don't forget it, kid!" Well, I'll NEVER forget Jake. Thank you!

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 122 123 aP-Stone, Ewan, and Jake, 2014  /  Photo: Brook

JP 122 123 zThe Sentinel of Stoke, the Reverend of Riff Raff, The Hellacious Hill-Bombing Houdini. The fuel of the fire that never goes out. Wherever you are, he's always watching. "Don't hesitate. Roll in or get the fuck out!"

JP 122 123 dPala, CA, 2010  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 122 123 bOskar and Felix Maigetter, 2013  /  Photo: Brook

JE3In Paris with Schmitty, 2011  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 122 123 yYou ever hear the story about Jake getting sucker punched while taking a piss? Or the time he was on mushrooms in Copenhagen hiding from the police under the table in our Airbnb? I got stories for days, but for the mag I'm going to share with you this one: Around 2002 I was working in my office and Jake walked in like he usually does—quick, stern and straight to the point. "Greg, come outside with me right now!" he exclaimed. I knew shit was serious when he called me Greg. Side note: he loves to call me Gregory S. Smith in reference to a time I made the mistake of using that in the credits of a video. I got the job making videos at Thrasher when Jake told me right after Phil Shao's passing that I better be ready 'cause I'm coming to work for the mag. Now back to the story—so Jake takes me outside and we walk towards the street. He looks at me and asks sternly, "Why did you park in the street today?" Halfway through his question I notice the side of my one-year-old Mitsubishi Gallant is completely totaled. I look at him and I look at my car. I was at a loss for words. "Some fucker cut me off and I swerved wide on the turn into the parking lot," he explained. My car got fixed. Jake paid for it but it never drove the same again and a year later all the paint deteriorated.

JP 122 123 L
   When I first got to know Jake I used to think he lied about all this bad shit. No one could ever actually have all that stuff happen to them in one lifetime, right? Well, apparently James Kendall Phelps, aka Jake, had been given many lives. From being woken up in a hotel by a car crashing into your room to rapping out with Bobby Brown at LAX to rolling a car in the middle of Australia to telling Adam Sandler he sucks, the stories go on for days but are all true. I'm gonna miss that fucker. Jake and Destroy por vida! No black socks, no cargos after 30 and big loops equals big kooks. Thanks for all the knowledge and proudly reppin' the SF craze, Phelper. One-of-a-kind doesn't even begin to tell his story but I hope the combined messages in this mag can. Big love.
JP 122 123 cJake with the Vitellos: Tony, Gwynn, Fausto, Sally

JP 122 123 f

JP 122 123 eWaters on backup, always  /  Photo: Burnett

JP 122 123 wThe ultimate common denominator, the universal connector that made people either love or hate Jake Phelps was his ability to make us feel good or bad about ourselves. And when he made you feel good about yourself, it somehow seemed to come from such an important place in skateboarding. For skaters, something positive coming from Jake Phelps and Thrasher was more than just about skateboarding, it was representative of everything that matters in our lives. When Jake made people feel bad about themselves, it came from a position of education or hazing or coaching. (I'm sure he hated that word, but that's what he was doing to a lot of people.) Authentic tough love means saying what needs to be said, whatever the cost. Jake was willing to do that for skateboarding and for skateboarders. Some people don't like hearing the truth about themselves, and some people just can't hear different opinions. And Jake knew that the hate he got was okay. He wasn't here to get along with everyone.
   At his worst, Jake was an adult still doing the stuff that we all secretly want to do, but don't for whatever reason. Maybe because we'd grown up a little more than he had. Maybe because some part of our brains says Don't risk it or Don't embarrass yourself or something along those lines. He'd yell at idiots doing whatever idiots do. He'd start fights with people about terrible music. He'd throw bottles in the street just to watch them shatter. He'd drink too much, actin' the fool, and still be up before anyone the next morning, forcing them to get on his schedule. At his worst, that tough love was there, but Jake would take delight in the pain it caused his friends and acquaintances simply because even when he was piled out he was usually still right.

JP 122 123 r
   At his best, Jake made us examine ourselves. If we were doing something that we could be proud of, he'd recognize that and he'd say so, and he had a knack for realizing the power of a few simple words and a little slap on the shoulder. If we were kooking it, we'd be better for Jake setting us straight. Jake realized that he was the man, slowly built up into that position by a lifetime of just being true to himself and to his favorite thing in the world, skateboarding. And by being that guy, by being the man, our fearless leader, he knew that a few encouraging words, either to a peer, or a journeyman, or to a young hopeful apprentice, would have a long-lasting impact and that skateboarding, and skateboarders, would be better for it. I'm going to miss Jake terribly, mostly because of how he made me feel about myself. But also, as many others have pointed out, because he was the standard by which skateboard lifers with a certain attitude measured themselves and their behavior. Jake wasn't Jesus by a long shot, but there were a lot of us who asked ourselves on a regular basis, WWJD?

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JPO 124 125 4Jake and BA, late 90s

JP 124 125 CJake and I met in late '96 in San Francisco. Having shared East Coast roots and experiences, we got along right away. We skated the same spots in the City and took pit stops at the same bars. I'd see him once in awhile in one of his hoopty Town Cars or a Crown Vic of some sort. He would be parked in front of a corner store or "murder mart" as he would call it. He'd yell, "Get in the car, Bri-Gnar!" We'd then proceed to drive around SF as he would point out legendary skate spots. "Coco ollied that! Julien grinded that! Tommy Chicken did a wallride on that!" I'm so stoked I have those memories. Two days after Jake passed I had a dream with him in it. He said to me, "I actually am dying tomorrow. Today's my last day with you all." He then went through two black curtains to go backstage and make his guest list. See you on the other side, my man, wherever that is.

JPO 124 125 5BTW, 2012  /  Photo: Burnett

JPO 124 125 2Skatepark round-up, 2010  /  Photo: Burnett

JPO 124 125 3Sheckler and Phelper, KOTR, 2004  /  Photo: Ogden

JPO 124 125 6Andrew, Stella and Jake, 2018  /  Photo: Atiba

JP 124 125 DJake has been in my life since I was a little kid skating contests. At first he was just this dude from Thrasher who I was scared of. But as I grew up, I saw he really was looking out for me and all of us. He did a lot for me and skateboarding—he gave me my first photo in a magazine and he gave me SOTY when he could've picked anyone in the world. He believed in me and my skating. Jake taught me when you shake someone's hand to look them in the eyes and make it firm. No one told me that growing up. He said, "When someone asks a question, have an answer! What do you want to eat? PIZZA! What do you want to listen to? RAMONES!"

JP 124 125 pq
I always loved that. He said, "Don't skate AT me; skate with me." It was important to me that Jake thought I was doing a good job and skating hard. He never cared if you were tech, gnarly, tranny, street, whatever—all he wanted is that we get out and get some! One of the last days we spent together he gave Stella a tour of Thrasher, dropped a bunch of knowledge on her, we skated Double Rock, they did back-to-back grinds on the quarterpipe, he made fun of her colorful grip and told her, "Don't ever do layback airs." I love you, Jake, and I know you are watching us.

JPO 124 125 7Jake and Frank

JP 124 125 BI'm saddened sitting here thinking of a story to tell about the fun times we had. The truth is they were all outstanding. I'm not gonna tell you any of it. Love you, Jake. HRC.

JPO 124 125 8Jake and Geoff 

JP 124 125 EThe first time I went to Thrasher in SF Phelper welcomed me with open arms and let me lay out my first interview in the mag, right there and then. He gave me my first cover, then made me SOTY and always supported and checked in with me my whole career. He was an amazing person; the support was reciprocal. Jake was somebody I trusted and relied on for a no-bullshit analysis of life, the conversation always coming back to skate talk and Motörhead music. He knew everything of the current affairs at all times and was a walking dictionary of all things skate. Born to lose, live to win. Live to skate, skate or die! Live by it, then get out and skate!

JP 124 125 FJPO 124 125 SOTYs Z


JPO 124 125 1Thought Jake didn’t have his own sandwich?

JP 124 125 AA couple slices of bread, some meat, lil cheese, condiments... simple, right? No fucking way. The art of the sandwich is serious business and Jake spent countless hours in search of the perfect lunch. Bigger ain't always better though, and I watched Jake deconstruct his sandwich on many occasions, attempting to rebalance the ratio of ingredients. There was nothing he hated more than an overly ambitious stack of cold cuts overwhelming the entire production. Everything needed to be the correct dosage. Maybe that's why one of his numerous invention ideas was THE INJECTION SANDWICH. Fed up with shabbily constructed sammies, he hatched a scientific approach to the problem: the bread should be a piroshki shaped pocket encasing a meat and cheese and condiment paste, launched via needle into the bread vessel, ensuring perfect allocation. Okay... maybe this wasn't one of his best ideas, but his mindset was born out of frustration with the lack of attention paid to what should be a simple creation.
   We spent a lot of time in the car together, lurking around SF, bouncing from Roxie's to Ganim's to Moonlight Deli, in search of the sammie at the end of the rainbow. While I share his passion for the sandwich, it's his companionship that I'll always cherish. Jake made me laugh until my stomach quaked and my eyes were like faucets. Just us two cruising, debating the merits of random bullshit. What a sublime experience.
   Skateboarding lost an idol, San Francisco lost an icon, but I lost my older brother. Life is short, time is fleeting, and all I want is five minutes and a chicken sandwich with my friend. —Tony Vitello


Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 126 127 cJake and Mark Hubbard

JE 15a
Kaya and Jake

JP 126 127 zHe wasn't "Jake Phelps from Thrasher magazine" to me. He was my dad's friend who once came to Thanksgiving, drank all my grandparents' wine and charmed everyone in the room. He was also the person I called these past ten months when I wanted to call my dad and his voicemail wasn't enough. Because Jake would always pick up with some tough love, a great story and some way to make me smile. I count myself incredibly lucky to have known him. I think the world should be grateful we had him and I know anyone who knew him will miss him. Big love, Uncle Jake.

JP 126 127 gGravette’s “worst haircut.” KOTR, 2010  /  Photo: Hsu

JP 126 127 fJake and Nora Vasconcellos, KOTR 2017  /  Photo: Brook

JP 126 127 yI would see Jake almost every day either at Potrero park or skating around the City. That guy lived skateboarding. There was never a time I saw him without his board. Love him or hate him, one thing I can say about Jake is that he definitely looked out for a lot of youngsters at Potrero. He gave a lot of those kids their first skateboard and he was the reason a lot them still skate today. I'm going to miss seeing him around the City.

JP 126 127 eGiving out trophies was one of his favorite things. KOTR 2016  /  Photo: Broach

JP 126 127 xMy head went numb when I heard about this. RIP, Jake Phelps. He taught all us 11 year olds how to front rock at Sunnyvale, saying, "Fuck school; do front rocks!" It blows my mind that he can no longer be that person skating down the street, face calcified with history, a moving statue of himself. Thank you, Phelps, patron saint of skateboarding.

JP 126 127 dJP 126 127 TJake told me that when anyone asked me what my favorite animal was, I should tell 'em, "The owl," and put my middle finger in the air.

JP 126 127 bThrash N Burn. Quito, Ecuador, 2018

JP 126 127 w(August 1993) The first week I worked at Thrasher Jake walked up to me, put his middle finger in my face and said, "Fuck you."
   Holy shit.
   I almost used an exclamation point just now, but at Thrasher, according to Jake, we don't use exclamation points. That's for Transworld and fake-ass marketing goons trying to hype up skateboarding. Thrasher tells the truth and the truth is too gnarly for most. No exclamation points needed.
   After that I was afraid of Jake and that is a beautiful thing. It sucked, no doubt. Fuck, it hurt. But skateboarding isn't little league. Not everyone gets a trophy. Jake came from the era of hazing and that was part of what made Thrasher what it is. The older guys were dicks. That was one of the things that made it so special to land a job at the mag. You had to pay your dues; and I continued paying those dues until I told Jake to fuck off right back.
   People always told me, "Jake's an asshole because he cares." I do believe he cared more than anyone. When I was strung out and about to lose my job, Jake was the one who confronted me, warning me to get my shit together or else I was going to get fired. He relished confronting people and for all his hatred of authority he was an authority. He made Thrasher the authority. It was so rad when he would call you into his office. I would jump up, and it was rarely good. But that type of authority can build strength. Suffering is good for you.

JP 126 127 a
   Over the years Jake became less of a bulldog around the office. He was still a dick, but his day-to-day duties became less and less and he spun into more of a trip organizer and hype man. He just did his thing and really didn't give a shit what anyone thought. He became a symbol of Thrasher and we pretty much kept him on the road all the time. Somewhere in there Bad Shit started and the Skate Rock era was all-time Jake. One of the best if you ask me.
   My favorite memory of Jake was the weekend we spent doing the Volcom-Spitfire collab party in Arroyo Grande in 2015. I brought my son, Aidan, and we were all skating and "camping out." Shit, Jake doesn't sleep. I don't think he even had a sleeping bag. He stayed up drinking and talking shit the entire night. There was no escaping it. Classic. Jake let me know he respected that I showed up and brought my son. "All hands on deck." That was the dedication that he was all about and it felt good to be part of the family.
   Jake kept up his travels and I admit I scoffed when he started Thrasher Radio. A fucking Internet radio show? How out of touch was this guy? That was Jake's final trick. He didn't change. The world changed around him. Social media exploded and Jake found himself a "brand ambassador" with a "podcast." He went out at the forefront of new media. The fucker pulled it.
   He waited around long enough to see Transworld pull the plug and clocked out guitar in hand. My fucking hero. God bless you, Jake Phelps, the master teacher of ego destruction. The parts that matter never die. Skate and Destroy. Burn it to the ground. Viva Phelps.

JP 126 127 iNo turning back, 2016  /  Photo: Yelland

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 128 129 aPizzey, 2012  /  Photo: Burnett

JE2Arc and Jake, feeling the love

JP 128 129 zJake once told me, "Yeah, when they make the Hellride movie, I think I want Philip Seymour Hoffman to play me." I'm like, "Ah yeah. Good choice. Philip Seymour Hoffman, I can see that." A couple years later, Philip Seymour Hoffman dies. So when I run into Jake, I'm like, "Hey, so, Philip Seymour Hoffman died, so I guess he won't be available to play you in the Hellride movie." He thinks about it for a second. Then I say, "But I was thinking... Ted Danson might be available." He turns to me completely serious, "Yeah, yeah. That could work. Ted Danson. He could play me." He was pretty stoked on the idea. And I'm sure Ted Danson would be pretty hyped to play the role of Phelper.

JP 128 129 b
JE 16aRye and Jake

JP 128 129 wI met Jake nine years ago at the first-ever Death Match. I was 12. I was still doing Boneless Zine then and he asked me questions all about it. "How? Why?" He wanted to pick my brain, but I didn't have answers. Again, I was 12. Most people didn't give two shits when I handed them this little black-and-white thing I made at Kinko's, but Jake was intrigued the moment I handed it to him. Ever since that day, mine and my brother's lives have never been the same. Over the years Jake helped shape how I look at skateboarding—letting me know what to do and what not to do. He would give me shit and criticize the things I was doing: "We don't care what Chris Cole eats for breakfast. Don't ever put this dude next to Cody Chapman in a video!" I never looked at it as shit talking. I looked at it as advice and I knew it was coming from the heart—not to bring me down, but to better me and the things I was doing. Jake loved skateboarding. It's what kept him going. And he always wanted to see it represented in the right way.

JP 128 129 cIn his cave with Mark, early 90s

JP 128 129 yJake was the guy who would figure out what trick you were going to do and beat you to it. He was uncensored 24-7. He spoke his mind and it was very hard at times. Towards the end, like the last few months before he died, we really started to get along a lot better. His way of talking was like nobody else, whether he was dropping words that the young kids were saying, or using words I remember my uncle's older cousins and stuff using when he came to visit us. He said, "This is your cave." I was kinda like, "It's not a cave; it's a high-rise." We were different in so many ways. He would come to my mom's house and we would have taquito-eating contests. As many as we ate, if we were still willing to go, my mom would make ‘em. He beat me. I think it was 13 or 14 taquitos made with the large tortillas and stuffed pretty thick—add avocado sauce or sour cream with each taquito and that's a lot! Like, really a lot. After eating, we would go driving around in South Gate or nearby in sketchy areas. I'd be like, "Chill out, you're gonna get us pulled over, if not by the cops then by some hoods!" So sometimes I'd be nervous he might piss off the wrong person, but thinking about it, he actually pleased the right person. When he came to visit just recently, he made a big impact on my daughter and my wife. We ordered Chinese food, we made sure to order all the stuff he liked. After we were finished eating he quizzed my daughter. He said, "I have five dollars for you if you can tell me where fortune cookies were invented." My daughter said, "Chinatown." He said, "You're right!" He gave her the five dollars then added, "Chinatown in San Francisco." My wife got a kick out of that.

JP 128 129 d
Typing this up and thinking about it, because he is dead, I want to go see if the five-dollar bill is in her porcelain bank, like I can hold the bill and somehow get a little bit more of him that will be gone now. He always seemed to make it clear if I was talking about someone deceased in the present tense he would say, "They dead." Maybe the reality of death, the difference between the two for him, made him enjoy life and appreciate it. He would get mad at me at times. I felt like he was family to me so I didn't care if he was mad. Whatever, I'd say in my mind. Staying at his house when I was down and out was cool. He had a very comfortable, old type of way that he would keep his cave, if I may. Sometimes I would talk with him about skateboarding. Mostly we just did skating. When he wanted to talk about stupid skate-groupie-type stuff, he knew I wasn't into that. We got into a big fight while on a skate trip up north around Portland or Seattle or someplace. Ironically, it involved another five-dollar bill. He kept pestering me to autograph a five-dollar bill. I told him, "Come on, man. Leave me alone." He kept pushing it. I said some pretty mean things to him, that he held the best skate groupie position that there could be. Jake was it. He lived it. He thrived at it and he made what I said and the way I felt about him not true. And I think that's cool that he proved me wrong. I always wanted him to put a helmet on. I was worried he would end up with head trauma that would effect his motor skills, you know, like a vegetable or something. I had concern for him like a family member or a loved one and he would say, "Shut up." It's crazy to think I will never hear him say that again under his breath with a hint of concern. I'm not sure how this is gonna sound, but it doesn't really matter what your feelings about Jake are now because he is dead. So God bless him. Amen.

Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
JP 76 77 1
JP 130 131 aBeen to the edge, then I turned and looked down  /  Photo: Arto

JP 130 131 c

JP 130 131 b
Jake Phelps Lifetime Retrospective
  • “Connector Line” by Habitat Skateboards

    “Connector Line” by Habitat Skateboards
    "The connecting route between New York and our home base in Ohio has been the backdrop of Habitat videos for years. We continue that tradition with “Connector Line,” a short film showcasing a season of East Coast skateboarding and closing with an all new video part of Mark Suciu.” - Joe Castrucci
  • Figgy's "Baker 4" Interview

    Figgy's "Baker 4" Interview
    Big Fig put it DOWN in Baker 4. Nuge hit him up to talk about final missions, getting on Baker, pumping the brakes on partying and learning to surf. From the Jan '20 issue of the mag.
  • Hell of a Year: Justin "Figgy" Figueroa

    Hell of a Year: Justin "Figgy" Figueroa
    He poured his life into Baker 4, and with Eric Burdon crooning in the background, Figgy brought down the curtains. Big ups to one of best dudes in all of skateboarding.
  • Andrew Reynolds' "Baker 4" Interview

    Andrew Reynolds' "Baker 4" Interview
    Burnett talks to The Boss about OG Baker, filming for the new video, team building and why being in the streets is the job. When The Boss speaks, you better listen! From the January '20 issue of the mag.
  • "You Good?" Premiere Photos

    "You Good?" Premiere Photos
    All the good homies came out to watch Foy, Zion and Midler go absolutely buck in Red Bull’s new vid: You Good? Free vodka and Red Bulls all night? Damn right there was a crowd!