San Francisco, CA – Thrasher Skateboarding Magazine’s longtime Editor-In-Chief Jake Phelps died suddenly on Thursday (March 14) at 56.
Thrasher co-founder Tony Vitello broke the news in a lengthy Instagram post and eloquently touched on Phelp’s legacy.
“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 in part. “When loved ones pass we sometimes mythologize about their full lives rich in friendships and experiences.
“Sometimes we need to talk ourselves into believing it all. It makes us feel better, and helps us cope with the loss. Well, in the case of Jake, the task becomes wrapping your head around just how many lives one person could possibly live. He really did see it all, do it all, and that incredible brain of his could relish every last detail.”
Phelps’ cause of death hasn’t been disclosed, but his uncle Clark suggested in a Facebook post that it was quick.
“My illustrious nephew Jake, famed editor of Thrasher Magazine died suddenly and easy today,” he wrote. “If you knew him you knew a character. He’s got more space on Google than anybody I know. We loved each other, and if he was anywhere near Salt Lake City he would crash for a night or two. I have dozens of stories and will tell a few in the next few days.”
Although Phelps had a reputation for being rough around the edges, he often showed his softer side when dealing with blossoming skateboarders. He embodied the very essence of skateboarding until the end.
As Vitello put it, “I never met anybody who loves anything more than Jake worshipped skateboarding. Just as we need food and water to survive, Jake needed skateboarding to keep his blood pumping. It was more than a hobby or form of transportation or way of life – it was his oxygen.”
Thrasher’s staff photographer Joe Hammeke told HipHopDX, “The key things about Jake were he was an encyclopedia of skate knowledge, blunt when it came to opinions, lived on the road and loved skateboarding more than anyone in the entire world. Dude gave me the greatest job on earth. Skateboarding will never be the same.”
Of course, Hip Hop and skateboarding have always been inextricably linked.
From the old 411 videos that featured music from artists such as Souls of Mischief, Mos Def, DJ Rhettmatic and Del The Funky Homosapien to the countless rappers who skate — including Del, Lil Wayne, Odd Future, Lupe Fiasco, Joey Bada$$ and Beastie Boys — they’re forever intertwined.
Tributes have been pouring in since the news broke. Tony Hawk, Questlove, Shepard Fairey and Ed Templeton are just a few who are offering their condolences on social media.
Check out some of the reactions below.