Brian Logan is a skateboarding legend who was there at the birth of skateboarding and he’s here to share some first hand history on the birth of skateboarding in the 60’s and it’s first death in the 80’s. Read on for shreducation.
Hi Brian, where are you from?
Originally I’m from Hermosa beach California, but for the last 40 years I’ve lived in San Diego California.
When did you start skating?
My brother Bruce and I started in 1959 on steel wheels!
Wow! Were you the first kids in the neighbourhood on boards?
Yes! Us and a few of our friends maybe 5-6 other kids.
What did you ride?
We took roller skates and took them apart and nailed them to a 2×4 piece of wood.
What inspired you to take the wheels off your skates?
We just got the idea after we saw some other kid do it, so we just wanted to do the same thing.
Because you surfed?
Yes we grew up surfing, we lived right on the beach.
How long did your 2×4 last?
From what I can remember: not very long. Before long, companies started making steel wheeled skateboards and then after 1-2 years came along the clay wheels and Chicago Trucks, we were only 8 and 9 years old at the time when we started.
Which was a better ride?
With Steel wheels you could not turn very well and there was no grip whatsoever on the pavement. When clay wheels came along they felt like the Rolls Royce of wheels, you could turn a whole lot better, but the only thing not so good about them is when you hit a pebble you would stop and go flying off your board.
Where did you skate then?
At our future Jr. High School: Pier Ave.Jr. High tennis courts (home of the first skateboard contest in 1963).
The first skateboard contest in the whole world?
Its is documented as the first skateboard competition ever by put on by Makaha Skateboards!
Wow! Who are Makaha Skateboards?
Makaha Skateboards was owned by Larry Stevenson who also made the first kick tail on a skateboard. Larry just passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 82, myself and my brothers Bruce and Brad spoke at his funeral service.
Who took part in this contest?
Most of the Makaha skateboard Team along with us and some local kids
How did you do in the contest?
Like most contests, I placed pretty high top 5, just not sure but I did not beat my brother Bruce. He was hard to beat even for all the Makaha guys: Squeak Blank, Gregg Carroll, Danny Bearer.
Your brother was your biggest competition?
Not really, it’s just I was the older sibling, but I always knew he was much better, in fact he was the best skater of the 60’s generation, that is one reason he was the first to be inducted into the Skateboard Hall Of Fame.
What is the Skateboard Hall Of Fame?
Our skateboard Hall Of Fame here in California, started in 2009 and the first 4 guys to be inducted that year were Bruce Logan, Tony Alva, Tony Hawk and Danny Way. We have had 2 more Hall Of Fames since then and the most recent was a week ago.
In 2010 was Torger Johnson, Stacy Peralta, Patti McGee. No HHOF in 2011 but in 2012 was Danny Bearer, Jay Adams, Mark Gonzales and Peggy Oki.
How does one get into the HOF?
There is a nominating committee of about 6 people and they choose the top 10 from the 1960’s 70’s & 80’s decades and then ballots are sent out to manufacturers & retailers across the country.
Who came up with the idea of having a HOF?
Todd Huber from Skatelab.
How did things progress after that first competition?
Let me back up a little, in 1961 before that first contest, we started our own skateboard club called the South Bay Skateboard Club, we had 8-10 kids on our little club and then we did other contests against other skateboard teams. In 1964 we went on live TV (The first time skateboarding was ever on television) and we were on a show called Surf’s Up, a surfing program and they had a skateboard competition. At this time we changed our name to The Bing Skateboard Team as they became our sponsor and we competed against about 10 other teams on this show. We made the top 3 teams and then we came back again for the final against these 2 other teams but we did not win we got 2nd place, Kip’s Skateboard Team won it. Then, in 1965, came the biggest contest of the 60’s The Anaheim National Championships. There were 300 kids from all over the country, this one was the biggest contest of the 60’s. My brother Bruce got 2nd place behind a kid named Torger Johnson who, later on in the 70’s, skated for our company.
Why was skateboarding so popular in the ‘60s?
2 reasons: the clay wheels as they rode so much smoother than the steel and the evolution of the skateboard in general of the 60’s, every kid in the beach areas was riding one.
How long did the Bing team compete for?
2 years 1963 and 64. Bing was a famous surfboard manufacturer and still is!
Who managed the team?
I was the team manager and we had another guy who would drive us around to contests and skate spots, his name is Tom Craig.
You were managing the team as a teenager! Good job.
I managed my skateboard club and then the Bing team.
You mentioned earlier that Torger Johnson later skated for your company – what company was this?
Logan Earth Ski. We had all the hottest skaters of the 70’s, names like Torger Johnson, Laura Thornhill, Jay Adams, Bob Biniak, and my siblings Bruce, Brad, and Robin and there were many more, they are all on the website.
Why did you start the company?
When the Urethane wheel came out, manufacturers were making Fiberglass boards only. We decided to make our own boards from wood, as we knew wood boards rode much better than fiberglass or plastic. And today, most boards are made out of wood!
Why ‘’Logan Earth Ski’’?
Bruce and Torger, they were the best skaters from the 60’s so it was easy to get other top up and coming skaters and our boards were better then all the others on the market at the time. The Logan Earth Ski name came from a family friend. Logan because it was our last name. Earth, because you did it on the Earth and Ski because skating was like skiing. Logan Earth Ski! It just had a good ring to it.
YOU made the FIRST wooden skateboard?
No. But in the 60’s they were mostly wood. In the 70’s, after the invention of the urethane wheel came along, skateboarding changed forever! Manufacturers were only making fiberglass and plastic boards so we said lets make wood boards and soon mostly all manufacturers made boards out of wood.
What made your boards better than the others in the market at that time?
Solid wood versus a flexible board was a no brainer, we just felt more comfortable on a solid board
How did it change the the world of skateboarding?
You could turn on a dime, they were very quiet, smooth, and most importantly: you could run over small pebbles and not fall on your ass.
How did it affect the technicality of competitions?
Riding banked hills was made easier. Pool riding was now possible with these wheels and speed! Every aspect of riding a skateboard became much easier.
What sorts of competitions did your team enter?
Freestyle, Slalom, Speed, High Jumping, team competition: every contest that came along.
Was the business just yourself and your brothers in your backyard shaping decks?
We started with 50 boards a week in our back yard shed and in a little over a year were manufactured over 5000 a month of wood boards (only) no plastic no fiberglass.
How did you manage to make so many with no staff/industrial machinery?
My Mother and I would run the business and we had about 15 guys assembling the boards. We did not make them in the backyard any longer, way too much demand! So I got a company in Los Angeles that had all the machinery to make them but they could not keep up so I got another company to make them and they could not keep up so I got another company. We had a total of 3 different companies make them for us and all we did was put them together and ship them.
How did the company evolve during the 70s and 80s?
We only made boards in the 70’s. Skateboarding died by 1980 so that is when we got out of the business. My brother Bruce came back in the mid 80’s for a while but it had all changed by then. We are back to making them now and the new line will be out this summer.
What killed skateboarding?
Too many manufacturers with a lot of junk on the market and skate parks were closing their doors due to insurance companies cancelling their policies due to too many injuries at the time.
Were there many other board makers run by skaters?
In the 70’s there were only, (from my recollection), 3 companies that had owners that skated: myself and Tom Sims and Dave Dominy from Tracker Trucks.
What role did the none skateboarder owned companies had a huge role to play in the death of the sport?
There were some very big companies that came into skateboarding Like Grentec and Mattell that flooded the market with junk products.
You mentioned about injuries – was it an helmet issue?
When the urethane wheel came out no helmets were worn but within a couple of years they were starting to use helmets, knee and elbow pads and other safety products. The 70’s era was the invention era of many things to help make the sport advance.
There is an anti-helmet sentiments in street skateboarding culture, where do you think this stems from?
Maybe it is that way in Europe but here in the U.S. most skaters wear helmets especially in the parks and when doing dangerous stuff like riding rails or speed!
How did skateboarding get resurrected after the 80s slump?
Well I was long out of it when it came back again, but guys like Stacy Peralta really helped make it come back in a big way. He has a new movie coming out called the Bones Brigade and it talks about that in the movie and who helped make it happen! That movie could answer this question in more detail.
Did you ever get back into it?
No I never got back into it until the last 5 years and on a history level because history needs to be told and we were there in the earliest days of the sport. Now we are putting a line of products together new and old, along with a company called Aerialactionsports.com. I happened to run across the perfect situation with this company. We are almost ready for some of the first boards on the market. We are doing our earliest boards first and then move up in the years from there.
Can you elaborate what you mean ‘’on a history level’’?
A lot of skate history has either not been told like it happened as some other groups have said they started this and that (I just do not want to mention any names) and there are only a very few of us from the 60’s era left that can shed the truth on this history stuff right up through the 70’s.
How did you fill the void left by not skating so much?
I do a lot of traveling nowadays Costa Rica, Philippines and I have a place in Baja Ca.
Do you still ride?
Surf only but when we get our new line together I plan on getting a long skateboard just to cruise on!
What do you think about the recent boom of longboarding?
Longboarding has really caught on in recent years in the U.S. The older generations (like mine) just want a board to cruise on and staying away from the steep terrain.
You mentioned the death of skating in the 80’s era, what would cause a similar death of longboarding?
I do not think there is going to be a death of long boarding or even skateboarding in general anytime in the near future. Yes there might be a slow down in production due to unforseen things in our economy, but skateboarding is now in the mainstream and there are many events now on T.V especially with the Dew Tours and the others.
What sorts of longboards can we expect from Logan Earth Ski?
We plan on making a 38” and a 44” board.
No downhill speed board?
We have not got there as yet!
Will you be building a longboard team?
I am not sure if we will have a longboard team, but a team that can skate all terrain on all levels is not out of the question!
What are your plans for the future?
Surf, travel and attend skateboard functions and design new skate products. The business end of it will be in good hands but myself along with my brothers Bruce and Brad and my sister Robin will be in all the discussions when it comes to designs.
Choose 3 numbers between 1-26
1, 17 & 25
1 – What do you take with you when you go for a skate ?
17- Do you prefer skating without socks or without underwear?
25- Would you rather be a penguin stuck in a lions body, or a lion stuck in a penguin?
Penguin in a lion
Awesome! Thank you SO MUCH for your time this evening. I have really enjoyed this stroll down memory lane. Come longboarding in my fair city!
I may be there, you never know