Pioneer: Sean Sheffey, Full Interview—Power From The East


"Sean Sheffey's A Soldiers Story part is my all time favorite video part. To this day I have no idea how you fakie ollie a table." —Daewon Song

Rarely does a single part change what is deemed possible on a skateboard. Even more rarely does progression arrive in the form of a tomahawk dunk. Sean Sheffey's part in A Soldier's Story ('91) was basic street skating on steroids; a rapture of innovation based almost entirely on power, with enough charisma to feed a small nation's electrical grid. During a two-week filming trip to California at age 17, Sheffey became the first to backside ollie a picnic table. The first to fakie ollie and half cab one. The first to back tail a full size table. The first to take street gaps into two-lane traffic range. One of the first to boardslide a double kinked rail. And later, the first to take late shove its big ('91) and the first to 50-50 a real street rail straight on ('96). He set the mold for the East Coast Powerhouse—since picked up by anyone from Reese Forbes and Huf to Brandon Westgate and went on to lock down marquis spots on Plan B, Girl, and now Blind. Mostly though—Sheffey was and is one of single the most legendary characters ever to set foot on a skateboard.

This is the full interview text from Sean’s Pioneer Column in our October 2012 Issue.

First setup?
First good one was a Rob Roskopp 4. It's the one where the monster is half way out of the target. It was like a maroon color, with fluorescent inset graphics of the monster face and hands. I was so overwhelmed by the graphics. That totally caught me. It was a trip because I really liked the first one where the hand was just reaching through. But they didn't have those by the time I ordered it. But it was really cool because at that point I was already ollieing and the tail on that board was pretty significant. OJIIs and some Indys too.

What were some of your early influences? Did you always put a lot of power into your skating or did you see other people skating that way first?
I was skating with some of the Maryland locals. Wayne C., Julius, Victor, and some other guys. But they pointed me towards the real hot shots like Mark Gonzales. The first magazine I got was the Thrasher with Mark's interview and him skating the Embarcadero. He was railsliding the high block and ollieing the channel. I think it was the one with Mike Vallely on the cover. After that I got pumped on Jesse Martinez and Natas Kaupas through some other friends. I got really into their styles and I would read up on those guys. I liked the way they contorted their bodies or had really good tweaks. Then the power they had in their ollies and basic grinds and slides.


Early Venture ad in the Shut days. Ollie, Brooklyn Banks, 1989.

Jesse (Martinez) definitely had that aggressive style.
Yeah. The wall rides were really thrashing and solid. I was intrigued with Jim Thibaud too when he did frontside wall rides off the launch ramp in Animal Chin ('87). I got more into the underground from there when I found out about Julien Stranger and how he was so hardcore, and really ahead with all the newest tricks, but with less coverage. I liked how he was punkish and against the whole idea of documenting everything. Instead he would just go out skating alone at night and do it in secret. So fluid and radical.

When did you first get to go to Pulaski in DC or Brooklyn Banks?
I was fortunate because I got sponsored by a shop after 8 months of skating. They had these contests there and I was already a good size for my age and would learn fairly quickly. I met a lot of skaters at those contests. We'd collaborate and talk about skating. One day a couple of guys, they were black skaters, came up to our local spot and were saying like, " Hey, you're getting good. You should come down and check out the hot spot in DC with us." I was just like, "Man, I can't go down there. My dad will kill me." He was across the street at the meat market so I went and asked him. These guys were 17 and had cars and stuff. My dad was supervising 3 restaurants in DC at that point so he just told me to be careful. They introduced me to the marble there and the easier sliding ledges. We were out in the suburbs just skating launch ramps and maybe curbs. There was no real wax back then either, at least on the East Coast. So right there, going to Pulaski I graduated to the knee high standard ledges and learned boardslides and grinds and all that. Those guys were already ripping the benches.

Sean’s breakout part skating Pulaski in Santa Cruz/SMA’s A Reason for Living (1990)

Keep reading on Page 2.

How soon after that did you film the Santa Cruz part (A Reason for Living ['90]) there?
Probably a year and a few months after that. I got to go [to Pulaski] about two times a week after the first time. They would take me down there a bunch. My father was actually well known. The Sheffey name was really good there. We kind of had a good way with the police so they would probably bring me just for that (Laughs.) My brother was a really big high school athlete too so we pretty much had our way in DC. We had privileges (Laughs.)

When did you start ollieng higher? Were you ollieng higher than the other dudes early on?
I guess I just adapted. I would watch Natas and Gonz in the videos. Then I got to skate with Mike Vallely through Chris Pastras. Dune was good friends with him and all the Shut guys were too. When I got to see him [Mike V] live that was like a whole new level of skating. I couldn't believe the stuff he would set up and ollie in the streets. We started setting up trash cans and I had seen the picnic tables in the videos so that kind of intensified my creativity. I would try and imitate what I saw. You knew it was possible.

After Shut, how was your first trip to SF? When did you get on SMA?
The first trip was really intense. I got to go with my friend Goose. I was living in Michigan at the time and Julia; my son's mom was pregnant. Greg Hunt came on that trip as well. It was through that trip that Greg first got hooked up with Spitfire and Thunder then eventually Real. I was also inspired by all the vert. I liked to ride vert and mini ramp at that time. I liked all the lip tricks they would do. And I think we tried to do those on ledges. I didn't really start to flip my board until I got together with Rick Howard and Mike Carroll and the Plan B guys. I really liked to incorporate the tech stuff with power after that.


Fence Ollie for a Speed Wheels ad, Circa 1990.

That's true. In the whole Life part I don't think there's one flip trick.
Or shove it. I remember reading something Mark Gonzales said in a magazine and it was like, "Don't flip your board. That's not really something cool to do." Of course, I came to know later that he was doing triple flips and stuff years before I even started. But maybe it gave me a different focus not to have my attention on the flip tricks. I was more into just power.

Yeah. We were saying how that kind of became the East Coast trademark style. Kind of basic stuff but just bigger, faster, and more fluid on the streets.
Yeah. I still had guys around me though ruling at tech stuff. Brian Tucci way back would 360 flip down the three stairs almost every try. We had guys like Pepe Martinez who would do all kinds of flip tricks up to the ledges. Chris Hall was super technical. He was unbelievable to watch. I sometimes wonder what I would have skated like if I had tried to incorporate all that stuff into my skating.

I feel like in some ways though you stood out because you didn't do that stuff. Especially in the Life part. Which really established you as a top pro.
Yeah. Maybe I developed a different style.

The Legendary Life part to the tune of Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” and “Boy King” by Ron Allen. A Soldier’s Story (1991).

In the A Soldier's Story ('91) part, I wanted to ask specifically about the picnic table stuff. The backside ollie, half Cab, and fakie ollie. Had you done that stuff before?
No. I was brought to that school in Gardena. We went to skate the hip and somebody ended up pulling out a table. I guess there were rumors of me, even back to the SMA days like: "Sheffey can ollie over picnic tables." I had really given it my all sometimes and I had cleared 'em before. But it was up in play now and this was time to prove that the myth wasn't false (Laughs). I went at it and it happened like no other time. I took three or four tries and got the fakie ollie. Half Cab was like one or two tries I got it. The backside 180 came real fast too.

I don't think anyone had done those tricks over picnic tables at that point. Did you know nobody had done it?
You know what. I was out in California at the tradeshow Mike Vallely was 180'ing the picnic table.

Frontside right?
Yeah. And I was trying them that day backside. His style—the way he would do it was so unique. He would ollie, and then twist over afterwards, whereas I was starting to turn before I even got over the bench. Mine were really early and I would snag a lot. So I learned how to do it from watching his that day.

Plus, they don't have those little tables back East right? Those are only in Cali?
Right. The ones back East were huge in comparison.

Was that all in the same day?
Yeah. The whole thing was probably 30 minutes.

And the whole part was only two weeks?
Yeah. Yeah. We were going up to Santa Barbara and then coming back down to San Diego. That was on the way back down.


Sean’s Life ad for A Soldier’s Story. The silhouette of this became the VHS box cover. 1991.

Then the back tail and the backside lipslide—that was a little bigger table right?
Yeah. That one was like standard size. Which is still pretty big to this day as far as doing tricks on.

It has that tiny little bump but it's almost non-existent.
Yeah. It's called School W.

Had you back tailed anything close to that high?
No way. I had heard about the tables though on the way out. And I was telling Ternasky I wanted to get a good back tail on a picnic table. He was like, "I'm into it. Let's go check out this one school and see what you think about these tables." He took me to School W. I looked at it and was like, "This one is perfect. Off this bump." He's like, "That's not a bump." I had been dying to skate back in Michigan. At the time I would find the littlest bump and exaggerate the biggest ollie. I was fortunate it worked out. They were like, "You can't even get off the ground on this thing!"

Did you do the back lip first?
Yeah. The back lip came really fast. But if it wasn't for Ternasky I don't think I would have been able to get the backside tailslide. It took over like 100 tries. We went back for like three days. I wanted to stop but he knew I could get it. That was rad though, because that sense of dedication and commitment stuck with me to this day. There's stuff that I'm learning and trying now that if I never had that direction or that help, I probably never would have understood how to get there. Skating was so free. But to film something. I came up with this idea. My imagination almost got the best of me. But to have a team and a boss helping me go through with it changed everything.

Did you wax the table at all?
No. No wax.

Damn. When you rolled away from that one what were you thinking?
I didn't know what had happened. It just spit me out and threw me off. Thank god I stayed on it (Laughs.)


The vegetarian back lip Life ad that Sean discusses later in the interview. 1991.

How about that street gap at UCSB. Had anyone ollied that?
I think Ron Allen might have ollied it. I had ollied something close to that distance at an SMA demo in Michigan [Read Greg Hunt’s account of witnessing this demo first hand at the end of the interview] . I had skated this curb-to-curb planter with Mic-E Reyes back then and had backside ollied it. That got word out on the circuit, so Mike approached me again like, "We heard about the demo… I got this street gap and this other thing I want to take you to. You think you can do it?" Of course now I was getting paid so there was pressure. But he took me there and it happened.

Where was that dirt planter you backside 180d?
Right outside UCSB in the parking lot. Mike pulled us up to it, and once again he's asking me, "What do you think about a backside 180?" I was like, "No way." You can see a couple of the early tries in the slam section. I thought there was no way I could clear it. Just getting buck wild and tumbling to get over it (Laughs).

Was that the same day as all the other Santa Barbara stuff?
I'm not sure. But we were only up there total for about three days so it was all real close together.

Daniel Harold Sturt shooting a Sheffey lipslide attempt in San Diego. Circa 1991.

Where was that double kinker?
That's down here in SD. At Balboa Park.

Was that Ternasky too?
That was towards the end of the trip. He brought me and Sal (Barbier) there. [Read Sal’s account of this on the last page too.] We walked up to it and he's like, "What do you guys think about this?" I was like, "Yeah man. This looks really good." Not really thinking about actually skating it. He's like, "You know one day, somebody's gonna have to do this. We're paying you guys. Somebody's gotta up the ante. This would be rad for one of you." We went on a tour and then a little after we got back he was like, "Ok, it's time to skate that rail."

Had you skated rails before that?
Off and on in DC. I was pretty accustomed to handicapped rails and had skated maybe a ten-stair. But nothing like the one in the video. I remember we went at night the first time. All I could think was that I wanted to clear the rail no matter what. I hauled ass at it the first try and it threw me so far I thought I was gonna die. I came down on the rail and it flipped me up. Right on my ribs. That's the one in the slam section. I sat down and thought about it and was like, "Ok, let's go again." I didn't want to be defeated on it. I went again and it throws me over the other side of the rail. I flipped over it again and Mike's just like, "Are you ok? Is this gonna be possible?" I told him I didn't know and he said we would come back in the morning. We went back and I worked out a technique. Basically I went slower and came at it from the side. Got on without putting all my weight on right away. That way, I would slide through the first kink before I got over the top of it for the second two kinks. It ended up working. Plus I had a everslick prototype so that helped (Laughs).


Ode to Ice Cube for a 1992 Droors Clothing ad.

Was there anything you tried to get for that part that didn't happen?
Not really. Kit Ericson was skating these massive gaps. But I didn't mess with those too much.

What about the Life ad with the backside lipslide on that high rail?
Yeah. The "Don't Eat My Friends" ad. That was the first time I had skated a rail that high. It was quick too. Only like four or five stairs. I didn't make it and I got pretty broke that day. That was the last time I tried a backside lipslide for so long. That session worked me. I was through with them. I love them again now though.

When late shove-its came in, I remember you picked up on those and took them big early. Like at Back to the City ('91) and over that fence in SD. Was that one of the first technical tricks you picked up on?
Yeah. I really liked when all that came in. Technical progression was a big part of my teammates at Plan B. So I started seeing what came naturally to me. Those late shove-its were some of the first ones that I felt comfortable with.

Was it weird when the pressure flip stuff started coming in too? It seemed like all that stuff was a different style than what you had been skating.
I actually liked the whole method of it. It was what my teammates were doing so I enjoyed it. At the same time I was a little removed from it too because I was married and had a kid so young. I wasn't always with the guys. Up to that time too I had been vegan, so I never wore leather shoes and all that.

Sean weathers the start of the Big Pants/Small Wheels era for his part in Plan B’s Questionable (1992). La Schmoove.

There was the Zero Two Shoes and all that right?
Exactly. But it was only a matter of time until I got influenced by the team and started wearing Vans Half Cabs and Adidas. Just changing shoes made it a lot easier to learn a lot of the technical stuff.

People always bring up the switch tre you tried down the big three at EMB in the Finally (FTC Video 1, '93) credits. When did you learn switch tres? It seemed like you learned them and then tried to do them down steps like you were ollieng a table.
(Laughs). Right around that time. I would be coming in and out of town up there. Mikey (Carroll) was always really ahead. He would come down to San Diego too and we would skate. He was so fluid. But there were two or three tricks I became known for. When you would go up to SF they were ahead of everybody. They were really progressive.

Sean ollies his son to start off his second Plan B part in Virtual Reality (1993).

Did you ever do any pressure flips? I don't think you ever had one on film.
I might have done one version of the backside pressure shove-it. I had that one (Laughs). But not too much.

Did you ever try anything down the Gonz gap?
I think I tried it once. It had a really big crack ahead of it. I don't think I made it.

I remember you had the one photo in Big Brother with your one pant leg rolled up. The caption said something like, "Sean Sheffey with East Coast style pants or something." Everybody I knew started rolling one leg up after that. It was almost like the new chain wallet. What got you to do that?
(Laughs) It was kind of influenced by Wu-Tang style at that point; a New Yorkish, city type of flow. The Wu-Tang freshness influence came into skating around that time. It was kind of a hip hop style.


Sean’s first Girl ad when Girl was still out of X-Large. 1994.

People also credit you with the first straight on 50-50s on rails. You had that photo Skin shot in TWS (August '96). What was the thought process for that? Had you seen anyone do it?
I'm not necessarily sure. It was something I came up with and went with it. Like, "That would be neat to do that."

You had footage of a different one in Mouse ('96) too. Now that's sort of a standard trick.
Right. I had thought about it for a while. I think I had talked to Rick (Howard) about it and he was like, "Yeah. That would be really cool. You should get it for the video." It came to a point where I needed a beastly move and Rick sent Tim Dowling down to San Diego. That was one of the things I wanted to get. It was a pretty trippy rail that I first ollied over the top of. I was afraid of landing on it and not having the board all the way under me. It was one of those things you really had to commit to. The first one I landed on the rail, I got on and the grind started to spin me 180. It just locked me in and twisted me. My front leg went way over to the side and behind me as I was still going forward. I ran out backwards and my knee got really stiff, but I was sure I could do it after that. I just had to get it before my knee swelled up. You know how you might twist your ankle but you still have that little window before it sets in. I went back up and got it after two more tries. But my knee was wrecked for weeks after that.

What about your whole switchstance period? You had only switch tricks in The Chocolate Tour ('99).
Oh yeah. You know what was cool about that? I was in San Francisco and I had learned a bunch of the switchstance tricks at the Greyhound station over the bump-to-bump in San Diego. But when I went up to Frisco, I really focused on skating everything switch. Skating spot-to-spot switch and skating the hills switch. I really just tried to incorporate it into everything. I had felt pretty successful at the time with my regular stance. It just seemed cool to try and throw yourself into this new goofy mold and never turn back. I actually wanted to be equal on both sides.


More Fort Miley. Backside flip from a July 1994 TWS cover.
Reeese Forbes was saying he had a vivid memory of you skating contests during that time and doing absolutely everything switch. Like rolling in on a vert roll in switch and switch backside flipping the pyramid.
Yeah. That was all from skating the hills switch. I could do all those big roll-ins. I had already pushed myself to practice it. Also it let me hit certain obstacles in ways you could only do if you rolled in that way.   

Sean’s Mouse part that ends with the first straight on rail 50 (1996).

Biggest check from your DVS shoe? Where those pretty big at that point?
Yeah. They were. I got one for fifty grand.

Jesus. Was that kind of the peak financially for you?
Yeah. But we did really well with the boards on Plan B as well. That was awesome too.

Best memory of Keenan (Milton)?
I did this Matix/DVS tour with him in Australia. He switch crooked grinded that 7-8 stair rail into the square in front of the train station (Melbourne Gold Rail). Everyone was there. It was all granite. And he was really put to the test. It was that nice round rail. He did the switch backside shove it too. It was just beautiful. He had so much finesse. Just one radical memory I have.

Where did you get that blue wig?
(Laughs) It was at a club in San Diego. Mathias Ringström's girlfriend at the time gave it to me. Yeah. I kept it for some time.

Did it get pretty rugged? Did you wash it?
(Laughs) No. It never got that bad. I think the longest I wore it was for that Vancouver contest.

Reese mentioned that too. He had a vivid memory of you rolling in switch on that roll in with the blue wig on.
Yeah. It was pretty crazy.

The near all switch period from the Girl shared part in The Chocolate Tour (1999).

When did you start to distance yourself from skating?
I had hurt my knee not to long after that. I wasn't really able to focus. Alcohol and drugs kind of took over at that point. I lost my schedule. It went from partying on the weekends to partying every night all week, then just to drinking all week without skating. I would party before and just skate every day. I really didn't foresee my alcoholism. Now I understand that I had an addiction that I couldn't see. I was always able to rely on my skating so I never faced it. I think the knee injury was actually a blessing because it allowed me to understand that.

When did you get it together and finally get sober?
A couple of times in jail. When I was locked up I couldn't drink or use drugs. They have drugs in prison and they make their own alcohol—but it's usually gangs that run that. I was never a part of any gangs in there or got forced into it. I was kind of known as a skateboarder in prison too. A lot of people had kids that skated or skated themselves, so I didn't have too much of a hard time.

How long were you in there?
I did about three sentences in County, which were like four months, six months, and a seven-month stretch. Then one time I did a twenty-month sentence straight through were I did nine months in county and eleven months in Federal penitentiary.

The dudes knew who Sean Sheffey was?
For the most part (Laughs). Some of the guards did too. That helped a lot and it kept me out of trouble. So I got to stay sober in there and just train and run a lot. I knew then that if I was given the chance, I could do that on the outside. A day or two after I got out Jake (Brown) picked me up and just told me straight up, "We want to work with you. We want to get you back into skateboarding. But you can't touch drugs or alcohol. This can become your life again." I set out to do that and that's where I'm at now. When I went in Bill (Weiss) was sending me boards and packages and taking care of me while I was on the streets. Rodney (Mullen) was always there for me too before I went in; just telling me, "Hey man, just keep it together. Let's work this out." I started getting packages and skating non-stop. And before I knew it, I had a board out again. That feeling, I can't even tell you. When I saw the board. It just feels so good man.

Almost 20 years later Sean ollies his son Julien again for his Blind welcome back ad. 2011.

Are you skating full force now? I heard you were learning new tricks? Working at Black Box and just ripping from what I hear.
Yeah. Every day man! I get to skate every day. Right now it's going on 16-17 months of skating every single day. Since I started working here, we have the training facility and the outside stuff too. I've been able to film a bunch of stuff. Being on Blind, and seeing the talent of my teammates pushes me to skate that much harder. I just learned switch front feebles on the round bar. Kickflip to frontside and backside tails. I learned switch back tailslide kickflips.

That's so rad.
Last week I did my first kickflip crooked grind on like a regulation marble bench in the park. Real steady and good. I'm still excited about that.

Have you skated with Ron Allen since you got back on it?
I saw him down here at one of the tradeshows.

He put out some footage recently and he's still ripping at like 50.
He's living as young and as healthy as ever. He's always awesome.

How do you feel looking back on it all? That's a pretty adventurous story.
I wouldn't change a thing. I really wouldn't. I experienced that life. I don't have a taste or desire to go back to it. But I learned a lot from it. It was exciting. I got to travel the world and skate and meet amazing people. I look forward to doing it again, only this time with a clear head. Teach the kids and up-and-coming rippers how they can do it right hopefully. But thanks for doing this. You stoked me out. Good memories Mackenzie.

You stoked me out Sean.
Peace.

Bonus Interviews

Sal Barbier on Sean Sheffey:
Skating with Sean during the Life days was the best. He was a beast, he could go much bigger and faster than anyone and wasn’t afraid to try anything. That was his time, he was #1 in the streets.

The craziest thing you witnessed him do?
His massive backside ollies over long gaps were unbelievable. The double kink boardslide was groundbreaking. That’s the first time a double kink like that had been done. I remember Mike Ternasky took us there after we had been skating all day, he said he just wanted to show it to us to see if it was possible. We were pissed off that he would even bring us there because he always did that sort of thing. I remember we were in the van while M.T. was looking at it saying “F- this, why doesn’t he try it.” So we got out of the van and Sean gave it a try, he flew off his board all the way to the bottom and landed ass first on the last step. Sean then tried it again and landed rib first at the bottom of the kink, it would have killed anyone else, it looked like a Viking sword injury, but this is Iron Shef we’re talkin’ about here, so he just laughed it off and got back in the van. M.T. felt bad that he almost killed him so he though he could make it up to him by bringing us there the next day at 5:00 a.m. We took some gnarly slams going at it, I landed on my nuts and my face at the same time and I gave it a rest. Sean said he owed the rail one for the rib injury and won the battle. He slid that rail and it hadn’t been done before, that the kind of skating I remember most about Sean Sheffey, doing some dangerous groundbreaking shit, that’s how he always skated.

First time you saw him (H-Street days)?
The first time I saw him was at pro street contest in San Diego. He was there blasting massive backside ollies, backside grabs over the transition pyramid, while everyone else was having a hard time trying to just ollie grab over it.

Were you there for a lot of the Life stuff? 
I skated with him everyday back in the Life days, we were best friends and those were good times. I was there for a lot of the filming and watching him try what hadn’t been done before was really cool and also inspiring. He could get you try a lot of things you didn’t want to. Sheffey’s skating was special because he just did the things that hadn’t been done before. He had to pioneer a lot of the dangerous shit for it to become “the norm.” He helped everyone around him reach their potential because he would take it to another level every time he stepped on the board. A good friend, a great skater, and one hell of an x-party animal, stay up Sean, much respect. Your Friend SLB. —Sal Barbier


The photo and sequence of the first straight on rail. TWS, 1996.

Chris Pastras on Sean Sheffey:
Sean was just a beast. He looked like a gnarly College Football player at 15-16. The first time I met him he had no shirt on, was buff as f—k, had some crazy country high water cut off jeans, crazy hair or corn rows of some sort, and was flying through the air and ollieing everything in sight. I was super scared of him and was trying to stay out of his way, but then one time when we almost bumped he just kindly said “hey,” and asked me my name and where I was from. He was the nicest guy ever, and wound up being a strong man sidekick for years to come. The gentle giant. But don’t cross him, I was just glad I was on his team not the other one. He saved us from more than one ghetto experience that would have gone down much differently without him. I remember him taking on an entire housing project full of kids one time. And they backed down.

How did him getting on Shut go down?
Sheffey was a force of nature, straight up. If Powell, SMA or Vision, or any brand at that time would have seen him skate they would have immediately put him on. Sure enough when those companies saw him skate, they did. This was pre-internet so it took years to make a name back then. But Shef also just fit the Shut vibe completely—he embodied Shut skates. Hide your daughters, lock up the shed, the mutha-f’in Shut team is comin'. Van door opens and it’s a bunch of brothers, Hispanics, men like Jeremy Henderson, blaring rap music out of a boom box and skating like wild men. Look out! —Chris Pastras


Huge backside ollie at Fort Miley as seen in Goldfish (1994).

Reese Forbes on Sean Sheffey:
Sean is by far one of my all time favorite people to watch ride a skateboard. It’s amazing that through his natural talent he was able to invoke a spirit of originality for those that would follow and attempt to emulate his style. Fortunately for all of us there is only one Shef.

Nobody could haul ass from the other side of Pulaski and backside ollie the white wall like the Shef. He’s the man. His part in the Life video was such a game changer for me. Also in A Reason for Living—my friends and I broke the tape we rewound it so much.

I was lucky enough to see him skate at Europe/Canada contests in the 90’s too. And see him pull some of the most out of control/in control maneuvers ever. Specifically, rolling in switch on something that Burnquist would probably only do padded! (Vancouver) Only to switch backside flip over the pyramid. Insane. I think he was wearing a purple wig at the time too and alternating with a razor scooter. —Reese Forbes


Backside ollie from the early days back East. Circa 1990.

Greg Hunt on Sean Sheffey:
Before I knew Sheffey I saw him at a Cow Skates demo in Michigan with Matt Hensley, Barker Barrett, and a bunch of other guys. There were these two long parking blocks stacked on top of each other, maybe 12 feet long or so. Keep in mind this was 1990, so people were boardsliding, lipsliding and ollieing over them—maybe a backside lipslide at best.

Anyhow, near the end of the demo Sheffey cleared the crowd that was surrounding the course so he could get more speed to hit the parking blocks. But he cleared the crowd so far back that the only thing it seemed he might try was to ollie the parking blocks lengthwise, but that seemed impossible. Nobody had ever ollied anything that big. But all the sudden there he was—pushing full speed at the parking blocks, starting so far away that the whole crowd was standing transfixed.

And what he did then I’ll never forget. He backside 180’d the entire f—king thing. It was unbelievable. To this day I’ve still never seen anything like that. So that’s my first impression. Also, just before I arrived that day I heard he also no complied over a bike rack off the flat. Ever seen anyone do that? Me neither. —Greg Hunt

The Sean Sheffey Mixtape from Manolo. Footage circa 1991-2001.