Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Plenty of you will have come across the names Tommy Guerrero and Ray Barbee on the music credits of Thomas Campbells surf movies, fewer of you will have recognised their names as two of the most influential street skaters ever. I was listening to one of Tommy's albums the other day and it struck me that they are the point where most of my interests collide, surfing, guitar, skating, music...
The Video part above is from "Future Primitive" and it was the first section of american skateboarding i ever saw, it opened my eyes to what skateboarding was about, not long after getting my first board, sometime in 1988 i think. (although the film is from much earlier) It's actually held to be one of the first catalysts that kick started street skating as a "thing" distinct from ramp skating which was the dominant force within skateboarding at the time and it was massively influential, not only to skaters. If you think about it, the way good snowboarders (like nico mueller for example) ride the mountain, using natural hits as they flow top to bottom, it connects in a straight line back to Tommy ruling the hills of San Francisco. TG was my first favorite skater.
Fast forward a year or two and Powell Peralta released their "public domain" video. In this age of readily available web content it's difficult to explain just how exciting waiting to see the new powell video was, they were almost the only company making films then and virtually the only chance to moving pictures of skateboarding! Not far into the film was the black and white "rubber boys " section set to a classic skate punk track and featuring a young ray barbee. watch it here. One of the coolest things about this section was the flatland tricks (no comply's etc) that didn't need classic american urban architecture for us to emulate. I actually snapped the tape in the badly copied video of this film i had from rewinding and watching it too many times. Barbee is also significant in being one of the first african american skaters to become widely known.
So neither TG or Ray Barbee surf but they do know Thomas Cambell, part of the "beautiful losers" art scene and who originally worked as a skate photographer before becoming widely known for his art and surf film making. Through releases on his galaxia label and his use of their music in his movies, both have begun to become known for their music as much as their contribution to skating.
Of the two, it's probably Barbee's clean bright jazz influenced noodling that i come back to more often. His tone and melody just say sunlight and mellow sunny happy days to my ears, whatever greyness my eyes can see outside the window. There's a pretty good introduction to him here or watch the clip below for a good introduction to one man, a tele, a bassman and a looper pedal!