Jay Adams on the cover graphic for Dogtown and Z-boys – one of the
better photographs of one of the most photographed and talked about
skateboarders of the 1970s. Jay Adams has been written about as much as
he has been photographed, and some of the better words are in Craig
Stecyk’s introduction of Jay Boy: Classic Photographs by Jay Adams
Stepfather: Kent Sherwood:
Perhaps harp on Adams’ still
undeniably pervasive influence and the perceived irony of missed
opportunities. Jay has always been honest in the things that matter.
Most often operating out of decent and selfless motive. Propelled by the
impetus of initiative that provided a mandate for mayhem that
occasionally lead to shit on the playgrounds of privilege.
up Jay’s influence in a sentence: During the 1970s, skateboarding made a
transition from stoned out surfer to hard-core punk. And Jay Adams was
one of the main chess pieces to make that move. He lead skateboarding
out of the shady surf of the 1960s/1970s and handed it to the shady turf
of the 1980s. His path was long, but can he shortened like this. He was
skateboarding as a young kid – a parallel pursuit for a stoked blonde
grom surfing Venice and Santa Monica, with exotic trips to Malibu and
even farther away to Mexico.
Inspired by the movie Skaterdater,
Adams lived three blocks from the beach, and surfed and skateboarded
that whole stretch, from P.O.P Pier to Venice and back. Jay’s stepfather
Kent Sherwood worked at Dave Sweet’s Surf Shop in Santa Monica, and Jay
hung out there. He skated in the alleys off the main street, and named
the sidewalks for famous surf spots: Pipeline, Waimea Bay and Sunset –
just as Danny Bearer had named spots in the hills, off in the distance,
on the north side of Wilshire, where the rich kids lived and skated
schools with banked walls. When Jay was old enough, his stepfather Kent
Sherwood took him to Paul Revere and Kenter and Bellagio, and there Jay
got a taste of the bank riding he had maybe heard about, or seen in
movies – but might have been on Mars until his stepdad gave him rides
By the time the Zephyr surf shop opened and the surf and
skate teams catalyzed, Jay was 13 or 14 and had been skateboarding for
years – starting on urethane and gleefully jumping on urethane wheels –
which allowed he and his friends to live up to that “Anything is
possible,” creedo showered on the world by the heavy-spray turns and
cutbacks by Larry Bertlemann and friends in movies and magazines. The
Zepyhr team rode skateboards formulated by Kent Sherwood, but it wasn’t
nepotism that got Jay Adams christened a Z-boy. Adams was as radically
innovative as any of them, and he emerged as a star of the team, along
with Tony Alva.
From sweet-cheeked kid shooting the shorebreak – as seen in Kent
Sherwood’s photos – Adams hit his teens in the mid-70s. In an interview
with Mike E on the www.strangereaction.com website, Adams said:
What was the most defining moment in your professional or contest part of your skating career?
most defining moment would have been the Del Mar Contest because we
were so different from all the other skaters they were stuck on 1960's
style skateboarding, and we were all copying Larry Bertlemann so there
really was a difference. Also when I won the 1975 Hang Ten World Contest
I got first in freestyle, and first in cross-country. Or my 3rd place
in the 1977 Skateboarder poll awards, but that’s all just contest stuff
and there’s been way more things that meant more to me. There was a time
when we’d come to a skate park and the whole park would just stop, and
watch I always thought that was pretty cool.
How did the Zephyr team come together?
too sure how the Zephyr team got started, but it was a surf team at
first, and then it became a skate team. Most of us younger guys who were
on the junior surf team all skated so when Cadillac wheels came out,
and we heard about the Bahne Cadillac contest at Del Mar we decided to
make a skate team, and that’s how it began. After the Zephyr team broke
up half of us went with my step dad Kent Sherwood. He made the Zephyr
skateboards. We broke away from Zephyr and started EZ RYDER which only
lasted about 6 months until it became Z Flex Skateboards. Now Jeff
Hartsell and I are re-launching EZ Ryder Originalz. Which you can see at www.ezroriginalz.com check it out.