This is an amazing interview with a legendary skater who paved the road for modern day skateboarding. He was a part of the legendary Zephyr surf and skate team, and lived and grew up in Venice Beach, CA (dogtown). Adams was a teenager in the 70′s and skated alongside Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva.
“Jay Adams may not have been the world’s best skater but he was the man, the real deal, the original, the first. He is the archetype of our shared heritage.” – Stacy Peralta
“Jay was a natural. He would do things that you would think incomprehensible,” says Jeff Ho, owner of the legendary Zephyr surf shop. “He would do things that would look like they were going to be a disaster, and he would turn it into artwork. He would fucking flow.”
Adams was skating before there were professional riders. There was no money to be made, and everyone skated for the love of it. “For me, skateboarding started in 1965 so by the time the Dogtown era came around I’d already been skating for 10 years. When I started it was clay wheels and mostly home made decks. We were just trying to copy surfing. Everything about skateboarding had to do with surfing. It was all about fun and a way to surf when the waves were shitty.” said Adams.
The things Adams would do had not been done yet. He was an innovator of the sport, a pioneer. “Watching him skate was something new every second, he was ‘skate and destroy’ personified.” said Peralta. It was well known that Adams did not much enjoy the competition, he skated and surfed for the love of it. He was there when they first learned to carve a wall in a pool, when they figured out they could hit the ledge, and when the learned to drop into the bowls. Skateboarding was rebellious, aggressive, and free.
Adams later got tied up with drugs and partying. “Well, using drugs has wasted a lot of years, but you gotta understand when I grew up, in the ’60s and ’70s and even the ’80s, everybody I knew used some sort of drugs. And most of the people I knew and hung around never let them get outta hand. We partied, we surfed and we skated, and it didn’t seem to be a problem. But later in life, drugs finally took their toll and got to the point where they were a very big problem.” Things quickly went from good to bad. “I was thinking man, all I do is sell drugs and do dope and been to jail a couple times. And I’m pretty much a menace at this time in my life.” Jay Adams was addicted to meth, and was in and out of the legal system. He was charged for murder and assault following a gay bashing he instigated in Los Angeles, and landed himself in prison again after being caught as the connect for a buyer and seller trying get crystal meth from California to Hawaii.
He has been through a lot of shit throughout his life, but is now living clean and sober (and is a reborn christian). He is still surfing and skating. Understandably, Adams is thankful to be alive and still doing these things in his 50′s. We recently got the chance to meet and bomb a hill a few times with Jay. It was incredible day, we had a blast. My mind is still blown. “This is my first time bombing hills in about 30 years” said Adams. “Can’t wait to bomb some real hills, Sunday was just a taste.” said Adams.
“This is my first time bombing hills in about 30 years”- Jay Adams. Photo By Leecifer Eisler
Me lurking in the back and Dave Hacket playing the Jay Adams drum. Photo By: Key Dougherty
Well, the man that started it all isn’t done yet, so why do I always hear people telling me they’re too old to skate? Anyway, meeting Jay Adams Sunday was one of the coolest things that has happened to me in a while. To capitalize on his presence we had Dave Hackett there as well as a plethora of other well known riders who had been in the skate game almost from the beginning, Jay Adams paved the way for everyone though. Because of him they knew carving in a bowl and hitting the coping was possible. He showed them the possibilities on a skateboard. Skateboarding rules! Thanks Jay for everything you have done for the sport! You are a legend, a hero and a skater for life. – Leecifer