In Memory Of Jake Phelps, Editor Of Thrasher Magazine And Someone Who Influenced Culture Worldwide

Founding Editor, Uproxx Style

Getty / Thrasher / Uproxx

Jake Phelps, the editor of Thrasher Magazine, was found dead yesterday. Phelps coined the phrase “skate or die” and was instrumental in defining the look and feel of skate culture around the globe. We asked Uproxx Style Editor Eli Morgan Gesner to share some memories.

Fuck you, Jake Phelps.

In 1989 Thrasher Magazine came to New York City to do an article on us local skaters. Bryce Kanights, Bill Thomas, and Charlie Samuels took pictures of our small NYC crew. Bruno Musso, Rodney Smith, Sean Sheffey, Harold Hunter, Jim Moore, the OG SHUT Posse, and the kingpin of our NYC skate scene, Jeremy Henderson.

This was a miracle. Somehow, out of nowhere, Thrasher Magazine was actually taking pictures of us. It was unheard of. Everyone skated as hard as they could — trying to impress not just Thrasher but the entire skateboarding world, who would undoubtedly read this issue. I came up on one good trick, I thought. A wall ride snatch off a tree in Central Park.

A few weeks later, Jeremy Henderson and I were skating the Brooklyn Bridge Banks and he took me aside in a fatherly manner. I knew I was in trouble. Jeremy went into detail about the Thrasher Issue. He told me that he personally got the opportunity to lay out the article with the guys from Thrasher and that the picture of me doing the wall ride on the tree came out amazing. Jeremy picked it for the cover.

The moment that I heard that come out of Jeremy’s mouth I shit myself. What skater wouldn’t? But Jeremy went on to say that back in San Fransisco, after the guys at Thrasher looked at what he’d put together, they instantly killed my Central Park tree ride for the cover.

“A tree in a park on the cover of the NYC issue? No fucking way.”

Jake Phelps made that call. The cover showed Jeremy doing a gnarly wall ride at the Brooklyn Bridge Banks — the same spot where Jeremy had explained the whole cover saga to me.


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