Pioneer: Tommy Guerrero, Full Interview—The Streets of San Francisco

Did you adapt the kickflip next. Did you see all the tech. stuff coming in?
Yeah. Once the kickflip came into play, everybody had to learn that and it obviously opened up even more doors. Variations and so forth. We would always skate this flat section in Golden Gate Park that was closed off on Sundays. We would sit there and try every possible variation of kickflips imaginable. Thibaud and I probably had like 10 different variations of kickflips we could do and we’d just go back and forth. Doing them in contests was a whole other deal. Very few people actually did them in contests because it was a bail trick.

Did you skate EMB before it got to be a scene?
Yeah. We would go down there and see a lot of those guys skating. We knew most of them. I knew Jovontae (Turner) when he was really young and watching him. He was basically the changing of the guard. Jason Lee was too. Just really precise, technical tricks done smoothly. A lot of us saw that coming in and were like, “Oh shit.”

Did you ever ollie the Gonz?
I did try. I think I might have broken my board. But I tried it.
An ad for TG’s second Flaming Dagger board. Circa ’88.

Did you hear about Mark ollieing the Gonz and later Wallenberg? Were you tripping on that?
Oh yeah. Definitely. That’s just Mark though. No one else could have done that. It takes somebody like Mark to make us all aware that those things are even possible. Most times people thinks he’s crazy, until he just does it.

What have you been credited with specifically in terms of tricks?
The only one I can really lay claim to, and I probably did it at the same time as someone else somewhere but the ollies into grabs off of jump ramps. That happened by mistake at a demo. I went to ollie off this ramp and leaned back too much so I grabbed mute and made it. That just fired off into every grab I could possibly imagine.

That was a huge deal though. I remember it was like all of skateboarding got that memo. No more early grabs.
Yeah. You could go way higher and it just looked cooler. Who wants to roll up crouched grabbing early? The only other thing I have heard was I guess I was doing kickflip backside grabs on miniramp. I hadn’t really heard of anyone doing those and then the next person to do them was Matt Hensley.
Sequence of the kickflip backside grabs Tommy pioneered on mini ramps. Circa ’89.