R.I.P. Tom Boyle

We just got the sad news that legendary vert skater Tom Boyle passed away today. He was a stylish and technical vert skater that could even get down with some pressure flips in the streets. Rest in Peace brother. You will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Tom’s family and friends.

“Yes sir… what shall I do.”

VERT IS DEAD.

Santa Cruz Speed Wheels ad, circa 1990. Scan: VERT IS DEAD.

Ode to Tom Boyle: By Dead Hippie

I never met Tom. I never even saw him skate in person. But what I did see where three of his video parts that marked me for life. First up, after the end credits to World Industries first video Rubbish Heap—a video that almost single-handedly (along with the H-Street videos)—assured the imminent demise of vert skating for at least a few years, Tom somehow against all odds managed to make vert seem as fresh as Ron Chatman's bluntslides or Jeremy Klein's first ever back smith on a handrail. Maybe it was the lack of music that it made feel so raw. Maybe it was the pure power of his attack mode. Maybe it was the crazy frontside slide n' roll to revert. But for that feat alone—making vert seem fresh during its darkest hour— Tom Boyle immediately became one of my all time favorites.


Tom’s Rubbish Heap part, hidden after the end credits (1989).

Following up on his part in Rubbish Heap, Tom would fittingly find his way to H-Street, the other hottest street skating outfit on the planet at that point, and release what to this day has to be the best vert part set to hip-hop (The Geto Boy's "My Mind Playing Tricks On Me" ['91]) ever for Next Generation ('92, See part above). Somehow, Tom could all of a sudden spin late shove-its above the coping, kickflips with no grabs, and back 360 one foots. And not in any awkward "trying to fit in with the new guys" type of way. Those tricks flowed seamlessly and with as much power as his heftiest "The Rock" certified Madonna, cab tailgrab to tail smash, or huge frontside ollie to truck smash.

Finger flip to tail, Ocean City MD, 1990. Photo: Geoff Graham

Finger flip to tail, Ocean City MD, 1990. Photo: Geoff Graham

Even beyond the tricks, there was something about his humble demeanor and self-depreciating humor that just made me love the guy, again, even if I never once met him. I still to this day cannot hear that Geto Boys song with out picturing Tom grinning as he stands strapped into his tummy belt vibrator. His personality just shined through every clip. Tom would go on to film another part, later in 1992 for Union Wheels "Right to Skate". By then, skateboarding as a whole had gone so far down the "small wheels, pressure flips, and big pants" rabbit hole that having a vert part in a video at all was an accomplishment.

Full force Madonna. You know this was loud when it hit. Jacksonville, FLA. 1991. Photo: Geoff Graham.

Full force Madonna. You know this was loud when it hit. Jacksonville, FLA. 1991. Photo: Geoff Graham.

But again, between showing he could nose manny nollie heel a manny pad and do the flippery stuff—Tom's vert game was still like watching an oncoming freight train. Tom continued competing and putting out footage over the next decade, with clips in TWS Four Wheel Drive ('96), another Union video, and some Airwalk promos. I'm not really sure at this point where Tom went after the turn of 2000, or why he left us when he did earlier this week. I do know that he continued skating throughout. But for having impacted my life in the ways described above, I did want to write this and say thank you.

Rest in Peace Tom. Ride on in the big vert ramp in the sky. Thanks for everything. —Mackenzie Eisenhour

tom-boyle-sin-gullwing-march-92-10-3-72

Gullwing Trucks ad, Photo: Sin. TWS March 1992, Vol. 10, No. 3.

Portrait by Ed Templeton. Transit days, circa 1996.

Portrait by Ed Templeton. Transit days, circa 1998.