Jake Phelps, the longtime editor of Thrasher magazine and respected skater, passed away Thursday.
His death was confirmed in a social media post Thursday evening by Thrasher founder Fausto Vitello’s son, Tony Vitello.
Phelps steered what many would consider the bible for skateboarders, serving as Thrasher’s editor in chief for 26 years. He worked his way up from the magazine’s shipping department to eventually run one of the most respected publications among pro skaters and novices alike, documenting every facet of the community around skateboarding.
Thrasher’s reach not only includes its print and digital magazine, but an apparel line. Thrasher in the fall bowed its first store in San Francisco at 66 6th Street in a bid to bring the world of Thrasher and skateboarding to life.
Much of the respect for Phelps wasn’t so much his rank at the top of Thrasher’s masthead, but the fact that he lived and breathed skateboarding.
“Jake Phelps was 100 percent 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,” Tony Vitello wrote in his post on Phelps, which did not include details on the cause of death. “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.”
Skate brands within the industry who have ties with or founders who were simply skaters before founding their businesses also weighed in on the news of Phelps’ passing.
“As a skateboarder [the] last 40 years, it is with deep sadness to hear Jake passing away,” said Sole Technology founder and former pro skater Pierre-André Senizergues. “Jake not only loved skateboarding, but he also shared it with everyone. He did not ask for anything except the most important thing, be the best skater you can be for our skate culture. He provided as well many opportunities for many of us with Thrasher, and all of us that got the privilege to be in Thrasher because of Jake, knows the feeling for [being] recognized in the bible of skateboarding. Thank you Jake for your impeccable authenticity and for giving us all your love for skateboarding. We will miss Jake greatly and we are all thankful at Sole Technology (etnies, es, Emerica, Altamont, 32) for Jake’s friendship, camaraderie and contribution to our culture.”
Nick Tershay, who grew up skateboarding and went on to found and continues to run Diamond Supply Co. said: “Jake was everything skateboarding is about and he carried the flag high for our community. He lived and breathed skateboarding and wrote the Skateboard Bible known as Thrasher magazine. Thanks for everything Jake! We love you and you will be missed. Skate and Destroy!”
Added Ripndip founder Ryan O’Connor, “Such heartbreaking news today. I wasn’t personally close to Jake but I could always feel his soul and passion for skateboarding. That’s what inspired me to keep pushing. He was the core of skateboarding. We lost a great one but his legacy will live on forever.”
Steve Berra, pro skater and cofounder of The Berrics, wrote on Instagram, “His mind was truly remarkable. In life we like to play the game. Us vs. them. Them vs. us. It’s part of what makes it interesting. Without it I think it would all be a real bore. But in the end…we are all fighting for the same thing. We all love it the way we love it. A loss for you is a loss for us. Every part of me feels for Jake’s friends and family and for the people he loved and loved him back. Original wouldn’t even begin to describe him. A great mind. Rest easy, Jake. Rest easy.”