‘Jake Phelps was abrasive, just like skateboarding’

‘Jake Phelps was abrasive, just like skateboarding’
Ed Templeton pays tribute — Thrasher’s Editor-in-Chief Jake Phelps, who died last week aged 56, was one of skateboarding’s most influential characters. Under his stewardship, the magazine and the brand it spawned became the summation of skateboarding’s commercially canny, fuck-you essence. Ed Templeton mourns and remembers.

Jake Phelps was abrasive, just like skateboarding. Through Thrasher Magazine, where for 26 years he was editor in chief, he helped promote a quintessential punk style and attitude to the skate masses that made skateboarding what it is today.

With Jake, you had to take the rough with the smooth, and at any given moment you never knew what you might get from him. He kept you on your toes. He played guitar in a punk band with Tony Trujillo called Bad Shit. He battled with drugs and alcohol, and he was so committed that skateboarding battered his body. I honestly don’t know how he did it for so long the hard way he did it.

The first time I met Jake Phelps was in 1990 when I was sent to Europe to compete in a bunch of skateboard contests. It was my first time to Europe and I realised once I landed in Germany that I had no idea where to go or how to get there. I wandered the airport hoping to see some other skaters going to the contests so I could ask them where to go. But Jake found me first. He yelled out from across the airport, “Ed Templeton!” – we had never met before. “Come with us.” It was as if he could sense I needed some help, and let me tag along with his crew on the way to the hotel where all the skaters were staying.

I never forgot that moment, and neither did he. It turned out to be typical of the kind of person he was. He may have been difficult to deal with, but he had your back and cared deeply about the way skateboarding was perceived. He had a nearly photographic memory and an encyclopaedic knowledge of skateboarding. He would recall some amazingly obscure details about your life when he saw you, anything that had ever been published in a magazine or in a video was seemingly logged into his head.

Jake’s spirit will live on. And his mark on skateboarding is undeniable.

Enjoyed this article? Like Huck on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Latest on Huck

Fragile, intimate portraits of California’s imprisoned youth
Photography

Fragile, intimate portraits of California’s imprisoned youth

New monograph ‘A Poor Imitation of Death’ documents and humanises the stories of seven young Californian inmates, aged between 16 and 20 years old, who were tried as adults despite being juveniles.

Written by: Isaac Muk

I was made homeless 11 days after the Asylum decision I waited 16 years for
Election 2024

I was made homeless 11 days after the Asylum decision I waited 16 years for

After spending years waiting for a decision on his refugee status torture survivor Gideon discovered his traumatic fight for security was far from over.

Written by: Gideon, a client at Freedom from Torture

Save the date for Rishi’s Leaving Drinks
Election 2024

Save the date for Rishi’s Leaving Drinks

Huck is teaming up with our friends at Dalston Superstore and Queer House Party to bring you an election night viewing party like no other.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor
Activism

Activists claim victory after major UK festivals drop Barclays as a sponsor

Groups and artists have been campaigning for Live Nation to drop the bank as a sponsor for Download, Latitude and Isle of Wight over alleged ties to the arms trade.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East
Outdoors

Exploring the football fanatic culture of the Middle East

New photo book ‘Football كرة القدم’ draws together pictures from over a dozen photographers to explore the region’s vibrant football culture.

Written by: Isaac Muk

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes
Election 2024

Drag artists unite to get out the vote, babes

East London legend Crystal talks to Huck about her new campaign, Vote, Babes! which brings together over 20 drag artists to encourage young people to use their vote.

Written by: Ben Smoke

Sign up to our newsletter

Issue 80: The Ziwe issue

Buy it now