It had to Happen
Brian Brannon JFASkateboarding and punk rock have gone hand in hand for years because one, they were both relatively underground in their respective uprisings through the suburban landscapes and two, the energy level of both genres' seemingly feed off of each other through different interpretations of area locales, yearly phases and trends, and age groups.

The skate-rock phenomenon that started in the late 70's and early 80's was a take off of the “Do It Yourself” handbook not readily given out at schools, not learned on some internet chat line, and not what mom and dad wanted to be a part of at all!

In the day, punk rock was hated by cops, parents, school officials, preists & clergymen, jocks, nerds. All they understood was the status quo (be nice, act nice, earn a living by getting a job, have a family, look proper, and keep up with the Joneses… all the stuff you detest when you 17).

You Wanted to be Different
If you skateboarded in the mid 70's like I did, you took a lot shit for trying something new and by not doing established regular team sports like tennis or whatever the hell kids did then. Growing up in So Cal—30 miles inland from the beach—you either wanted to be a jock, hippie, low-rider, or wanna-be "surfer." Those were your choices. I took the wanna-be “surfer” route which ultimately lead to skating, which in turn lead me to punk rock.

My friends and I were punky little twelve year old kids listening to the A.M. radio hits of the day such as Aerosmith, Bowie, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, The Stones, T-Rex, Queen, and Kiss. We would rock and get pumped-up riding down the streets that were our backyard playgrounds back then. There was nothing like the wind blowing through your hair while rolling low to the ground dragging your hand on the pavement pretending you were riding a wave. The mags really hadn't come out quite yet and we didn't do much other than carve around empty coke cans, jump over broom sticks, and ride nose wheelies.

Anti-Fashion
During this time, O.P. and Hang Ten ruled the fashion runways of my school. I hated all that shit (I still do now that it is back in fashion).

DC 1980We tried real hard to shy away from all the same shit that everybody else did and that is why skating is still so important to me. It saved me from all the bullshit that went down around me and instead of me trying to fit into someone else’s scheme we made up our own scene by skating and the people we met through skating. We had our own look, our own language, and our own places to congregate. We were doing what nobody else was doing at the time (at least in our area). There were only maybe ten people in the day doing what we were doing.

Flat-landing turned into to bank-riding. Anything and everything deemed sloped in the slightest way was our playground for learning new maneuvers or practicing old-time favorites like your standard kick-turn.

Pools and Spit
Right about this time pool-riding came into it's own and we like everyone who skated at that time wanted to become pool-riders like our heroes in the magazines. This was the winter of 75' going into the spring of 76'. The magazine "Skateboarder " was our Bible and we went back to it all the time for references and inspiration. What we saw in the magazine influenced us to extremes that knew no boundaries. We skated more and more pools (Central, Santa Anita, Bel-Air, Arnie's, Holt pool, Royal pools down the street, D St. pool, B St. Apartments square bowl, 25th St., Egg Bowl, Roll Bowl, and the mighty L-Pool), We also skated at the Mt. Baldy Pipeline (a dam with a 14.5 diameter tunnel). Skating in a pipe is the purest form of skating where rolling and gravitational pull are your best friends.

Skating at this point was new. Technology was not what it is today and everything we did was done by trial and error. Pain was everywhere but you learned to deal with it.

Kids would spit and tease us for wearing those clown-like 2-tone Vans which all the skaters wore eons before the first fashion wave hit influenced by skaters. A good three months or so elapsed before the trend caught on. It was then we skaters were all the rage during the summer of 77'.

Constant Change
"C.H.iP.s"Shit-loads of changes occurred during the next two years with the advent of skate parks. All across California they spreading like wildfire as well as all over the whole U.S. Skateboarding was everywhere at this point - 3 magazines, on the T.V., in print ads, on Charlie's Angels, and "C.H.iP.s." With this came the eventual sponsorship which started with little surf shops and local wheel manufacturers like C+D and Paved Pacific surf shop. From there
it was the Pipeline team which allowed free skate time at the park (which was a godsend). The park was a definite stepping-stone in the right direction for skateboarding and thanks must go out to the Hoffmans for taken us into their extended family.

The parks enabled a lot of skaters to come from their respective areas to meet and compete. It was from this diverse make-up of different locales and ethnic backgrounds/upbringings that bore the fruit of what was to become the skate punk explosion.

1976 - fall 1977
A wave of skate parks hit the continental U.S. The A.S.P.O. and the Hester Series were born. The first wave of parks were Carlsbad, Montebello, Anaheim's Concrete Wave, Mesa, Skater Crater, Skatopia in Buena Park, and alittle later Pipeline, Big-O, Lakewood, The Runway in Torrance, Paramount, Whittier, Reseda Skatercross, Oxnard, Sparks in Goleta, Skate Ranch in Colton, Grand Prix and Pomona Pipe & Pool in Pomona, Oasis, Del Mar, Ramona, Vista, Glendora Pipeline, Newark, Winchester, Skate in the Shade, Hi-Roller, Milpitas, Campbell , and too many others I've forgotten.

Spring 1978 - summer 1978
Salba Oasis The Hester Series came to Spring Valley in the form of the first ever pool/bowl-riding competition which I won amidst controversy. Everybody who's anybody in the skate world was there to participate and celebrate. The Hester series was a 4 park contest series held during the spring and summer months with freestyle pool riding, a consecutive one-wheeler event, doubles with 2 skaters, and pipe-pasting where applicable (only some parks had pipes). The parks where it was held were Spring Valley, Newark, Pipeline, and Big - O.

Music was pumped into the bowl via a stereo system p.a. device which started playing what we were listening to at the time. As time went on the music became louder, faster, and stronger.

Guilty of being Punk
The vibe was there and D.P. still had long hair and rode for Hobie. He flew to the Boulder contest with El Gato and Darrell Miller. They had tickets there but not return tickets. That inspired all of them to do well or stay stuck in Colorado. I had hurt my knee badly at Winchester (torn ACL) and was on the contest comeback. After taking a fall at Boulder, I knew on my second run that I would not make the cut so I shot my board into the bleachers. This caused a uproar from my then sponsor Kyrptonics and team manager D.David Morin (later a commercial actor). I was found guilty for acting in a non-professional manner. That was punk in my opinion. Thanks to Steve Olson, I eventually quit to ride for Santa Cruz. Everybody knew that Santa Cruz had the punk team and Variflex had the straight team.

Nobody had Cut Their Hair Yet
1978 was the year of big hair, headbands, short shorts, and Rector kneepads. Steve Olson won the overall series without winning a contest due to consistent performances all the way through the series. Steve was really in my opinion, the catalyst for the whole skate-punk movement. The skaters had already stoked on the new-wave bands like Devo, The Talking Heads, The Ramones, The New York Dolls, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and the American rock/new wave acts like Cheaptrick, The Cars, and Tom Petty who all sported the new-wave look of suits and skinny ties.

Saint Olson
Olson... Life ChangerMore contests followed like the Oasis Pro (where Olson introduced the layback!), the Winchester Open, The Milpitas Nor-Cal contest, Lakewood Half Pipe, and the Runway in Torrance (which was shown on C.B.S.). Every contest grew and drew more skaters and spectators alike. The second Hester series started in 1979 with contests held at Whittier, Colton, Boulder Colo., Del Mar, and Pipeline. It was at the Boulder skate park when Olson came up to me and handed me a walk-man with the Buzzcocks on it - it changed my life forever! I could not believe the energy of that first Buzzcocks record - it literally blew me away!

Pure DIY
I hadn't developed a look yet but was wearing thrift-shop clothes on a regular basis. In those days you found all kinds of gear you can't find now. I was in high school at the time trying to learn about art and found out about how Jackson Pollack inspired the Clash by applying his aesthetics to their wardrobes by splattering paint all over them and by stenciling letters via spray paint - a much cheaper of way of making clothes outside of the silk screening method.

Kill All Hippies
Kill HippiesIt was those years that were filled with youthful arrogance and a time of self-exploration and copying what you found radical (then changing it to go along with your set of rules). The rules were simple; “kill all hippies”, never wear bell bottoms, cut your hair off, wear thrift-shop clothes (or something just strange and weird found at yard /estate sales), discontinue team sports, don't listen to dinosaur bands, metal, or Springsteen. Basically, do every completely opposite of what every one else was doing. That was punk!

I was lucky to have some skater friends in the U.K. at the time who sent me gear from the Kings Road of London where creepers, bondage pants, and ripped tees were the rage. My bud Jon Shaw visited me the summer of 1979 or was it 1980? - I forget. I would send him skateboard gear they could not get over there like Santa Cruz Bevels, Independent Trucks, and Blackhart Wheels.

I f you look back into the magazines of the times, the skaters image reflected what was going on in the streets. The magazines even had the punk influence on typography and photo content. You can see the eventual rise of new wave, punk, then hardcore in a matter of a 5 year period (78/79 to 83/84). This is when punk was at it's height of rebellion - politically and musically.

~Steve Alba


 

Related Links
My Favorite Bands
My Guitar History
Powerflex 5

Related Articles
Punk 101
Skate Rock

The Clash
999
U.K.Subs
Elvis Costello
Joe Jackson
DEVO
Sex Pistols
Johnny Thunders
N.Y. Dolls
Wayne County and the Electric Chairs
Dictators
Stimulators
Minor Threat
Dead Kennedys
Circle Jerks
Black Flag
Dils
Chiefs
Dickies
Weirdos
Manson Youth
Alleycats
Bags
X
Agent Orange
T.S.O.L.
Wildones
The Flamethrowers
Bad Brains
Battallion of Saints
45 Grave
The Boys
Generation X
J.F.A.
Big Boys
Faction
Crowd
The Joneses
Daggers
UXA
Politcal Crap
Blondie
Richard Hell
Minor Threat
Sharks
Buzzcocks
Adolescents
D.O.A.
Gears
Iggy Pop
5£4
Cramps
Vibrators
Rezillos
Adam and the Ants
Eyes
Germs
Sham 69
X-Ray Spex
Plugz
Avengers
Ruts
G.G. Allin
MiddleClass
Weasels
Deadbeats
Damned
Flyboys
Fear
Stranglers