The Seventh Annual Skateboarding Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were held in Anaheim, California this past May. I was fortunate enough to accompany two-time world champion skateboarding legend and icon, Bruce Logan, at his VIP table. What nobody knew, not even Bruce Logan himself, was that before the 2016 inductee presentations were to begin, Bruce and Tony Alva (both original 2009 Hall of Fame inductees) were going to be called up on stage to receive a second Hall of Fame award for recognition of their lifetime achievements.
In 2009, Bruce Logan was the first skateboarder to be inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, followed by Tony Alva. Once more, Bruce was a first—he’s the first ever to be recognized now twice by the Hall of Fame committee.
In the audience of thousands, there was a list of the who’s who, and the craziest pro skaters ever to hit the streets, pools, and ramps. But the true “father of skateboarding” was given the stage first, and one more time Bruce reminded them all why he was there—he was a principle part of the beginning of skateboarding.
When Tony Alva took the stage next, Bruce Logan—Logan Earth Ski teammate and “fellow pirate brother in arms”—was the first thing Tony talked about. “The tales I could tell,” sighed Tony. “The things Bruce and I did together would curl your hair. You’d all be walking out of here with afros!” Tony gasped as the audience busted out in laughter.
Ty Page was next up as the 2016 inductee for the 1960s, and he spacewalked to the stage, a trick invented by Bruce Logan. Ty’s first remarks were also about Bruce Logan, who had discovered Ty and brought him on board to the Logan Earth Ski Team where Bruce mentored him.
Before the evening had ended, there was no doubt to anybody about Bruce Logan’s indelible place in the history of the sport as the “wizard of skateboarding.” The respect he was shown by his fellow skaters and fans was truly moving.
As all great stories have a beginning, the story of skateboarding is no exception. Furthermore, the telling of this story would not be possible without telling the story of Bruce Logan. It has been said that Bruce Logan was at “ground zero.”
The year was 1956 when five-year-old Manhattan Beach resident Bruce Logan got a pair of steel-wheeled roller skates for his birthday. He quickly became frustrated and decided that roller-skating sucked and that he sucked at it. Bruce wasted no time in coming up with what was then a new and brilliant idea: he pulled the steel wheels off one of his skates, cut the assembly in half, nailed half to the front end, and then the other half to the rear end of a 24″ piece of 2×4 lumber. Next, he nailed an upright wooden peach crate to the front end to which he then added handles, and began cruising the streets and sidewalks of his neighborhood. Within six months, he had torn off the peach crate and began what he called “sidewalk surfing.”
A year later in 1957, Bruce bought his first surfboard—a waterlogged Velzy & Jacobs balsa wood board. A few months later, the Logan clan moved to the west end of Longfellow Avenue on the strand in Hermosa Beach. Bruce earned enough money on his paper route to purchase a new custom made Jacobs T-band foam surfboard, shaped by his new friend, pro surfer Robert August, immortalized in the movie Endless Summer. Now that Bruce lived just feet from the sand, he was able to “surf all week and skate all weekend.” By 1965, thirteen-year-old Bruce Logan had become one of the top ten surfers in the boys division in the US.
In 1964, twelve-year-old seventh grader Bruce Logan developed a following of a group of kids at his Pier Ave Junior High School in Hermosa Beach. Bruce reminisced: “We began having early morning skateboard sessions practicing tricks and maneuvers before school started at 8am. It became an everyday habit. The teachers, principle, and custodians would all show up to watch. As word spread, people in the neighborhood began showing up as well, their hands clutching the chain-link school fence, peering through, while the rest of the school kids watched on in amazement, hollering, screaming, and applauding. Then those kids that didn’t have a skateboard went down to the hardware store and bought one. The next they came back to join in and skate with us, to learn what they could, by watching and then trying it. After that, it was unstoppable.”
Next came the era of the birth and rise of the skateboard contest. The California International Surf Festival at Pier Avenue Junior High School and Hermosa Beach was where it all started. This was the beginning of what was to become the first of a series of the most important skateboarding contests of the 1960s. Bruce Logan dominated as the first-place overall winner in four out of five contests; 1964,1966, 1967, and 1968. He also placed 1st in the Men’s Freestyle in 1965.
Bruce recalled the excitement following his 1964 and 1965 wins. “Monday morning when I woke up, I went to school with my skateboard to skate the tennis courts and all the kids in school mobbed me. They were so stoked!”
Shortly thereafter, Bruce was recruited by Makaha Skateboard Team manager, Jimmy Ganzer, who spotted Bruce doing a freestyle skateboarding demonstration on the strand in front of the Redondo Beach Breakwater during the 1965 Laguna Swimwear Masters Surfing Contest—the same contest where Corky Carroll won the first-ever professional surfing contest.
Jimmy took the Makaha team all around in his Nomad and Woody Station Wagons to major SoCal department stores such as May Co, The Broadway, JC Penny’s, and Macys and then started flying the team to major US cities to promote and sell the new Makaha Skateboard line, the first skateboard with clay wheels.
Perks included each team member receiving a new Jacobs surfboard every year! Bruce, still grateful recollects, “Makaha’s owner Larry Stevenson was very generous, flying every Makaha team member with at least one year’s membership, to Hawaii once a year, all expenses paid. Can you imagine what a thrill it was for a thirteen-year-old kid?”
The Encinitas Era
In 1973, Bruce relocated to Basil Street in Leucadia. “I started taking trips inland to La Costa skateboarding the newly blacktopped streets with driveways before there were houses. They were the greatest streets in the world to skate on,” Bruce told me with a big grin. It was here on the “Black Hill” in La Costa that Bruce quickly earned the nickname, “King of the nose wheelie,” where he reached speeds in excess of 40 mph. It was also here that Bruce practiced for the upcoming 1975 Hang Ten World Pro-Am Skateboard Championships held at the L.A. Sports Arena where he won first place for men’s pro freestyle. Bruce is credited with creating and developing freestyle as a completive style. “Freestyle drew the most crowds,” stated Bruce. “When the freestyle event started in the competition, it was the most exciting event of all the events because it required the most coordination, and skill, with trick after trick flowing one into another for three minutes. Style, degree of difficulty and fluidity were combined for your overall score.”
SkateBoarder Magazine in 1975 described Bruce Logan’s wide range of abilities stating, “Although Bruce is a phenomenal trick specialists, he performs in all fields of the skateboarding experience, sloped and vertical walls, downhill speed runs and slalom.”
In 1976, the Hang Ten World Pro-Am Skateboard Championships were held at the Carlsbad Skate Park in California and was televised by the ABC Wide World of Sports. Park & Bowl, Bank Riding, and Flat Land Freestyle were combined for the overall world Men’s Pro Freestyle title, making Bruce Logan the only pro skater to ever win the Hang Ten World titles two years in a row.
Bruce was also the show favorite in the Skateboard Expo an all-star team of seventeen top pro skaters that traveled to major cities and performed before crowds of thousands. Skateboard Expo creator and manager Patrick Mulcahy told me matter of factly that “Bruce, he made everybody better. He was so aggressive and so spunky. He pushed everybody to their limits. When Bruce went out on the floor to compete, he knew he was the best. Bruce was my favorite!”
When I asked Bruce about looking back on his life and what he thought, he replied without hesitation, “I had a high step in my step and I never let it down. I always lived life to the max. Everything I did I took it to the beyond. I lived life on the edge because that’s how I liked it.”
Bruce Logan continues to call Leucadia his Home today. Learn more about Bruce Logan at BruceLoganEarthSki.com