There is no such thing as “Out of sight, out of mind.” There are so many skateboarders out there in the world. Most have no idea why anything moves the way it does. Life. Dreams. They probably don’t even question it. But that doesn’t mean the answers don’t exist.
Their history, for instance. As we continue to move forward in time, it’s possible some of the newer generations of skaters are out of touch with their roots, unaware of the catalyst that conceived the version of skateboarding they practice every day.
In truth, skateboarders can easily trace back the origin of their beloved pastime. To Zephyr and the Z-Boys. At this point, it’s been almost 50 years since the team’s inception. 50 years since, they forever changed the way people skate. The fact that we can still see their influence is nothing short of unbelievable.
Here at Dogtown Coffee, part of our mission as a Santa Monica coffee shop has always been to keep the Zephyr and Z-Boy spirit alive by telling their story to all who will listen. Today, we continue our work in honor of the individual members of the team. For the skaters who don’t know much about their history, here’s a moment to learn all about the greats that played a role in pioneering a new form of skating:
While Allen was a member of the Z-boys skate team, his passion was mainly surfing. From the age of 5, he spent all of his time riding the waves and gathered a slew of surfing contest wins before he was even old enough to drive a car. In the surf community, his surf style was hailed as ahead of its time due to his more aggressive wave maneuvers, earning him the nickname “Wave Killer.” He’s since retired from competing but continues to surf even today in Malibu, Hawaii, and wherever there’s a swell.
Jim Muir started skateboarding as a kid in 1963. At the time, skating equipment was primitive, with metal and clay wheels and trucks that wouldn’t turn. Curious about what improvements could be made, he began to make his own skateboards in woodshop class. Before joining Zephyr, Jim often surfed and skated with classmates and friends Bob Biniak and Wentzl Ruml. Once on the team, they started doing the same with Tony Alva and the rest of the crew. Later, he’d go on to form Dog Town Skates, which continues to this day.
Shogo Kubo was born in Japan and came to the United States when he was young. He had always been surfing from an early age, but he discovered his passion for skateboarding when he was twelve. Around that time, he met Jay Adams, who introduced him to the rest of the crew and soon became a member of the Z-Boys. He quickly tapped into his potential and became one of the most stylish skateboarders to ever roll on this planet. He continued to have a great career but sadly passed away while surfing in the water that he loved in 2014.
Bob Biniak grew up in the Santa Monica area and was similarly situated to spend his time in the water surfing and the banked asphalt schoolyards of Los Angeles on his skateboard. Known as ‘The Bullet,’ Biniak had a reckless and full-throttle approach to skating. He was quick, stylish, and powerful and even went on to ride for the first family of skateboarding- Logan Earth Ski. Unfortunately, this legend passed away in 2010.
Nathan Pratt grew up riding the local hills and schoolyards with classmate Stacy Peralta. Skip Engblom gave young Nathan a job sweeping up and doing ding repairs at the surf shop. Nathan then apprenticed under master board builder, Jeff Ho, learning how to make surfboards from start to finish. Nathan was a founding member of the Z-Boys skate crew and created the famous Zephyr Competition Team shirt design in the Venice High School print shop.
At the age of 15, Stacy Peralta was already widely known for his skate style and dominating the scene as an original Z-Boys member. Later, he co-founded Powell Peralta skateboards and was instrumental in the creation of the Bones Brigade. The Z-Boys were a hugely influential collection of riders, and the Bones Brigade would become a powerhouse in their own right. Stacy is now involved in the film industry and went on to produce and direct feature films and documentaries, including the ever-incredible Dogtown and Z-Boys.
As a kid, Chris Cahil was always surfing in the local area and skated with Jay Adams, Wentzl Ruml, and Bob Biniak. At one point, Jeff Ho took notice that besides being a talented skateboarder, Chris was also an incredible artist and asked him to airbrush surfboards for the shop. In return, Jeff taught Chris how to shape boards, and it became another one of his lifelong passions. He passed on in 2011 after a long battle with cancer.
Paul was born in Canada and moved to Santa Monica when he was ten years old. He eventually fell in with the locals and would surf and skate alongside them. In fact, Jay Adams was the one who taught Paul the basics of surfing. After that, he started skating with Jay and the rest of the crew. Paul was one of the last to get to join the Z-Boys as they headed to the Del Mar Championships in 1975.
Tony Alva spent all his spare time honing his craft, surfing when he could and skating when the waves were flat. Tony had a unique style and power that others lacked and is widely regarded as the Godfather of pool skating. Jay Adams and others always said, “Tony was usually a step ahead of everyone. He was simply better.” In August of 1977, he flew out of the Dog Bowl on his skateboard and ushered in a new age in skateboarding. Eventually, Tony started his own skateboard company, Alva Skates. All these years later, Tony continues to be a skating powerhouse and still inspires everywhere he goes.
A local surf rat, Jay Adams, was always at the beach and in the water. He approached skateboarding in a very unorthodox manner. You never knew what Jay was going to do because even Jay didn’t really know. He was innovative and radical. His stepfather, Kent Sherwood, fiberglassed the original Z-Flex boards ridden by the Z-Boys. This pioneer passed in 2014.
Like the rest of her teammates, Peggy Oki started surfing and skating early in life. While attending Santa Monica City College, she met Jay Adams, and he took her to the Zephyr shop, where she soon found herself the only female member of the Zephyr team. She took first place in the 1975 Del Mar Nationals, won first place in the slalom event in the Santa Barbara Skateboard contest later the same year, and competed one last time at the LA Sports Arena. Currently, Peggy is a public speaker, inspiring listeners with the story of her journey from pro skateboarder to painter and environmental artist.
Wentzl Ruml began skating when he was fifteen years old. He was best friends with Bob Biniak. They’d surf in the mornings and end up taking the bus to skate at Paul Revere school in the afternoons. They ended up running into Jay Adams, and the three became inseparable. Recognized as an innovative skater, Wentzl was asked to join Zephyr alongside Bob. Today, he’s credited as being one of the greatest pioneers of pool-skateboarding.
And there they are. The twelve Z-Boys. Without them, who knows where we’d be? Would time have eventually ushered in a new way of riding a skateboard? Would there have been another collection of greats that came together like an awesome force of nature? I’m unsure. I think these things happen once in a lifetime. They weren’t one in a million. They were one in two billion.
This blog is brought to you by Dogtown Coffee, a Santa Monica cafe serving up some seriously good eats. Stop by to try out our locally roasted Santa Monica coffee blends or other Santa Monica breakfast favorites, like our Munchies Breakfast Burrito.
(Stories and images used by permission of Blue Tile Obsession / Ozzie Ausband)