Jake Phelps, editor of Thrasher magazine and skateboarding legend, is dead

Jake Phelps, the longtime editor of Thrasher magazine, has died. He was 56.

Thrasher founder Tony Vitello announced Phelps’ death on the magazine’s Instagram:

“Jake Phelps was 100% skateboarder, but that label sells him way too short, because beyond his enormous influence in our world, he was truly an individual beyond this world,” Vitello wrote.

The cause of death is not yet known. Vitello did not return a request to comment.

Clark Phelps, Jake’s uncle, said in a Facebook post Thursday that his nephew “died suddenly and easy today.”

For more than two decades, Phelps led what many considered the bible of skateboarding. The San Francisco-based editor was also an esteemed skateboarder, who first hit the pavement on four wheels at age 13, he told the California Sunday Magazine in a 2016 interview.

Phelps was born in California and lived briefly in Massachusetts before moving back to San Francisco in the early 1980s, where he started working at a skate shop in the Haight. Around the same time, Thrasher co-founder Kevin Thatcher approached Phelps to write a product review column for the magazine he would later run.

In 1993, after a few years spent boxing up merchandise in Thrasher’s shipping department, Phelps landed at the top of the masthead, where he remained for 26 years.

A punk to his core and skateboarder until the end, Phelps was a San Francisco icon, oft seen scraping around the city on his preferred mode of transportation — a beat-up skateboard.

In December, Thrasher opened a brick-and-mortar shop on Sixth Street in the Tenderloin. Near the entrance is a manifesto penned by Phelps.

“Skateboarding vs. San Francisco is war,” it reads. “It’s 49 miles chock full of cops, vagrants, speeding cars, gang bangers and, the most humbling of all, the hills.”

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Jake-Phelps-editor-Thrasher-mag-dead-skateboarding-13690148.php.

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