Covers of the first and latest issues of Thrasher Skateboard magazine.
Thrasher Skateboard Magazine was founded in 1981 by Eric Swenson and Fausto Vitello in San Francisco, California. If you’re a skateboarder, or new to skateboarding, you’ll know, or soon discover, the importance of this iconic and legendary magazine that has helped define and chronicle skateboarding for over 40 years.
Many skateboard magazines have come and gone, with very few outliving the advent of online news sources. So, what makes Thrasher so special and resilient, well, Thrasher is not just a skateboarding magazine, it IS skateboarding.
In 1978, before Thrasher was created, Fausto Vitello, Richard Novak and Jay Shuirman founded Independent Truck Company and, after a few years, decided they needed an effective way to promote the truck company, the answer was, their own skateboarding magazine, and Thrasher was born.
Aimed as an alternative skateboarding magazine, one which took a more punk attitude to skateboarding, the direct opposite of the clean cut, polished skate companies of the time, the magazine slowly built up a following underground and adopted the now famous and synonymous motto of “Skate and Destroy”.
Thrasher was here to stay and over the years became a staple in skateboarding and eventually becoming a brand in it’s own right. Thrasher magazine is truly the bible of skateboarding and we recommend it 100%. Pick up an issue and check out there website, you will not be disappointed. While you’re there, and this is not for the squeamish, check out the Hall of Meat segments! Just make sure you’re sitting down.
One of the big reasons Thrasher’s popularity exploded in the early 90s was when James Kendall Phelps, Thrasher’s then shipping manager, was promoted to Editor-in-Chief.
Jake Phelps, or the “Phelper” as he became known, was a controversial skater with a punk attitude. Jake loved skateboarding, it was his life, as was the magazine and he became the soul of Thrasher Magazine. Over the next 27 years as editor, his influence and guidance grew the magazine like never before until his death March 14, 2019, at his home in San Francisco, aged 56. He was loved by lauded by many and equally despised for being aggressive, problematic, unfair and corrosive. Having said that, love him or hate him, you can not deny the impact he had on Thrasher and equally on skateboarding and skate culture. Jake was cremated with his skateboard. His name was sprayed in his honour at the Potrero del Sol skatepark.
Jake outlived both founders: Fausto Vitello died of a heart attack riding his motorcycle in 2006, and in 2011, Eric Swenson put an end to his life in front of a San Francisco police station.
Skater of the Year
It has run the most coveted and prestigious Skater of the Year (SOTY) award since 1990, and it is considered the greatest honour to even be nominated, let alone announced the winner, further solidifying Thrasher’s importance to skateboarding and it’s future. The first SOTY was awarded to Tony Hawk in 1990, and subsequent winners reading like a who’s who of skateboarding including Danny Way, Eric Koston, Andrew Reynolds, Geoff Rowley, Chris Cole, Leo Romero, Ishod Wair and Jamie Foy to name but a few.
King of the Road
In 2003, the brainchild of Micheal Burnett, Thrasher launched King of the Road (KOTR) a skateboard contest series where pro skate teams are pre-invited to tour parts of the USA while competing for the KOTR trophy, another coveted award! Teams are given the now legendary KOTR booklet containing a list of challenges with two weeks to complete as many as possible. Whoever scores the most points for challenges completed is crowned King of the Road. What results is a thrill packed, mayhem fulled, skate contest across America, thats full of hilarity and the most incredible skateboarding you’ll ever see! Past winning teams include Zero (who won three years in a row), Alien Workshop and Birdhouse (who also won three years in a row).
Thrasher is hands down the most successful, most influential skateboard magazine of all time. It has grown and expanded into an apparel brand, a PlayStation game, the Skate Rock series of music albums and numerous books, while showing no sign of stopping soon. It has it’s own private, invite only, skatepark called Double Rock in the San Francisco Bay Area and even has it’s own retail store/skate museum on 66 6th Street, San Francisco, where skateboarders and the public can explore the history of skateboarding and purchase Thrasher apparel.
Thrasher truly is the heart and soul of skateboarding and we believe skateboarding wouldn’t be what it is today without it. Like we said earlier, it’s not just a magazine, it’s skateboarding, so when you slip on your Thrasher hoody, remember you’re representing skateboarding!