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The Origins of Thrasher and the History Of Rock & Roll

Joe Fong Rip Rides Under The Infamous Thrasher Gutter

I was extremely fortunate to have an empty pool up the street from my house right at the start of my skateboard journey, I believe it was emptied it in 1976 or 77? While the Dogtown boys get credit for being pool pioneers us Nor Cal heads were at the forefront as well, we just didn’t have a mag yet to show the world our skills. That’s kinda why I bring this up, Ironically the pool was located in a spot by the name of Thrasher Park, this was way before the magazine but that’s not the most interesting part. Quite often a crew would take the short BART ride from the city that included Bryce Kanights, Joe Fong, Tommy and Tony Guerrero as well as other (future) SF legends. On occasion one of the OG's of the mag Kevin Thatcher would make the trip to get some runs as well. Now i’m not saying this cement pond was the namesake for Thrasher mag but it would be impossible to think it wasn’t at least in the back of Thatcher’s mind when the task of naming the rag was underway. Was Thatcher even there for the naming? If not that would be a weird coincidence then and maybe this story doesn’t even matter? Well i'll answer that question straight away, it still matters because the naming of the mag isn’t the only part of our little history lesson involving Thrasher Pool.

"The Pool Was Located In A Spot By The Name Of Thrasher Park"

Eric Capers @ Thrasher Park in Skateboard World Magazine Around 1977. Photo By Hugh Holland

The story goes a little something like this

There was a crew in the Bay Area during this era by the name of team Alotaflex featuring the absolute cream of the crop Nor Cal had to offer. The team included the founders Paco Prieto, Jeff Sand, Chris Fisher, Dave Fisher and in the not so distant future Tommy Guerrero, Tony Guerrero and most important to our tale (and the most talented of them all), Tim Marting. tim was a bona fide legend in San Leandro and our local hero at Thrasher Pool. For the first 3 months of riding the pool I would always seem to miss Tim when he was there but always heard about the next-level shredding that went down by the other locals the next day. Keep in mind what I mean by shredding is a very rudimentary form of skateboarding compared not only to now but compared to the next generation of the 80’s. If you could put yourself in a time capsule and go back to this ancient time in our young history you would soon realize that we were hardly further along than the dinosaur age of the 60’s and at the very beginning of skateboarding’s trick book. BTW I’m not talking about freestyle, I’m talking about transition skating exclusively: there were cess slides, front and back grinds, 1-2-3 slides….. for god’s sake carving was a trick back then. You could count the number of tricks on 2 hands and have leftover digits to throw a peace sign…. It was that fucking raw. No matter the quantity of moves though, our young hero Tim was the king during this raw moment in time.

"We Were Hardly Further Along Than The Dinosaur Age Of The 60’s"

Team Alotaflex Major Players, Jeff Sand and Paco Prieto

I digress though, let’s get back to Tim's contribution to skateboarding and his soon-to-be historical feat. Like I said months went by with no sightings of Tim then one foggy autumn night it happened. I was on a solo mission at the pool and in the distance, through the dark mist a perfect silhouette of a 70’s skateboarder was approaching and I knew it was him. To this day I remember getting real nervous that I was about to meet infamous Tim Marting, the local legend himself. As he jumped the fence it became clear he was the real deal, long blond hair matched with a John McEnroe type sweatband, white tube socks almost to his knees, the first pair of Vans I had ever seen in the wild and most importantly the nicest skateboard I ever laid eyes on. At this early point, I’m not sure if that was an early alotaflex board or not but it didn’t matter what it was, he threw that beauty down and destroyed the pool! I had never seen anything like it, my first exposure to real style and talent and i was blown away. I don’t remember much these days but that night will forever be burned into my memory.

"Most Importantly The Nicest Skateboard I Ever Laid Eyes On"

The Epitome of 70"s Pool Style! Tim Rides the Tile @ the Paul Daily pool in Sebastopol Ca. Photo by Dave Fisher

Here comes the real history lesson for those of you that made it this far

At the Thrasher Pool Tim started doing an early version of a brand new trick eventually to be named the “Rock and Roll”. He did it with his hands down at first though, It must have been an extension of a hands-down version of a cess slide that he evolved by rocking his board out. I don’t know the thought process, you would have to ask Tim what he was thinking but this was pretty revolutionary. Everyone was trippin’ and everyone who had the skill set was trying it (and that was just a select few). As you know Evolution doesn’t stop and while the others were playing catch up Tim was already working on the next step and after some time his hands lifted and the backside Rock and Roll was invented (and yes, it was decked from the start). Just like that one of the most important lip ticks was invented and it's safe to say the final version of the Rock & Roll was truly revolutionary!

"And Yes, It Was Decked From The Start"

The Gutter @ Thrasher Was Intimidating Back In the Day. Didn't Scare Rick Fagnani Though!

If I remember correctly though due to Thrasher Pool having a gutter (that was a mind fuck back then) Tim landed the first no-handed Rock and Roll at Newark skatepark then took it to Winchester? I don't believe the first make was at Thrasher so those with better memories can confirm but make no mistake, the Rock & Roll evolution is buried deep on Davis Street at a pool with the same name as our bible. By the time he brought the trick to the masses, airs were starting to happen too, and combined with the Rock and Roll this was the beginning of tricks getting invented left and right. It’s almost as if the Rock and Roll and its creator opened a portal into a progression that would spark new tricks at every backyard pool and skatepark across the land. An amazing time in our young history!

"The Rock & Roll Evolution Is Buried Deep On Davis Street"

I Told You It Was Decked From The Gate! Tim Slaps A Beauty @ Skatepark Victoria

Bottom line, Thrasher Pool and the legend of Tim Marting are 2 of the most unknown yet important parts of Bay Area skateboarding history, there is no disputing that. The Rock & Roll was ground zero for a thousand more lip tricks to come and even if the mag wasn’t directly named after the pool the energy from this spot somehow cosmically made its way across the Bay, into the office where the decision was being finalized and made its way onto the idea board where it ultimately became the final choice. All hail Thrasher mag, Tim Marting and the Rock and Roll - 3 Nor Cal legends!

A Rare Clip Of Tim Slapping His Legendary Move!


Parting Shots

I've taken quite a few skateboard photos in my time but by the time I started shooting the Backside Rock & Roll wasn't really a photo worthy trick unless it was done on something unique or real gnarly. I believe this photo of Kerry checks both boxes.

My all time favorite Backside Rock & Roll photo is of my buddy Brad Mclain shot by Deville Nunes. Beyond decked and triple checked, a stunner of image from 2 of the best to ever do it


That's if or now kids! Get out and make something happen!!

- BROdela

PS.... This is my history rolling around in my head that I have been telling to young bucks for years, mostly after a few beers and blunts but only to do those that are interested. If I got a date or a punctuation incorrect keep it to yourself. I prefer to keep my memories as is. Well I should say with the exception of Tim Marting, Tony Guerrero or any of the other Alotaflex dudes, if they have a correction I would listen to them...... under protest


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