Longtime Thrasher editor and skateboarder Jake Phelps has died.
Tony Vitello, the son of Thrasher’s co-founder Fausto Vitello, took to the magazine’s official Instagram account to announce Phelps’s death. He was 56 years old.
His uncle Clark Phelps also confirmed his death on Facebook but did not reveal any details about the cause of death.
Phelps was the editor-in-chief of Thrasher for over 25 years.
In an Instagram statement, Tony Vitello exemplified Phelps’s love for skateboarding in part of the lengthy tribute.
“Just as we need food and water to survive, Jake needed skateboarding to keep his blood pumping,” he said,”It was more than a hobby or form of transportation or way of life — it was his oxygen.”
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Jake Phelps was 100% skateboarder, but that label sells him way too short, because beyond his enormous influence in our world, he was truly an individual beyond this world. When loved ones pass we sometimes mythologize about their full lives rich in friendships and experiences. Sometimes we need to talk ourselves into believing it all. It makes us feel better, and helps us cope with the loss. Well, in the case of Jake, the task becomes wrapping your head around just how many lives one person could possibly live. He really did see it all, do it all, and that incredible brain of his could relish every last detail. But most of you reading this now identified primarily with Jake Phelps the skateboarder, and editor of our magazine, so I will leave you with this truth – I never met anybody who loves anything more than Jake worshipped skateboarding. Just as we need food and water to survive, Jake needed skateboarding to keep his blood pumping. It was more than a hobby or form of transportation or way of life – it was his oxygen. Here’s another thing. Jake never bailed. Jake fucking slammed. And there is a big difference. He only knew commitment. He was going to go for it without hesitation, and there were only two outcomes. Either you’d see his triumphant fist pumping in the air or it’d be an earth-shaking collision with the concrete. I remember him telling me once that he never fell backwards, he always fell forward. Leaning back meant there was hesitation, and Jake was all the way IN. There was no myth. The man was the myth. We love you, Jake. -Tony Vitello
Jake Phelps was a legendary and inspirational figure in skateboarding, and began practicing at the age of 13. He became the editor-in-chief of Thrasher in the late ’80s after working for the skateboarding magazine shortly after it was founded in 1981.
Under Jake Phelps’s vision, Thrasher became he highest-selling and most influential skateboarding magazine. Thrasher’s Skater of the Year award is among the most prestigious honors in skateboarding culture with recipients such as Tony Hawk, Mike Carroll, Chris Senn, and Tony Trujillo.
Tributes have been pouring in for Jake Phelps from the skateboarding community and others who were impacted by his work, including 2018 Skater of the Year winner Tyshawn Jones.
— Dan Sena (@DanSena) March 15, 2019
Oh damn Jake Phelps died???!!! Wooow, i don’t even skate & I know this is devestaing. Got to chop it up w him in Utah once. Man….rip & god bless his soul.
— Questlove (In E flat) (@questlove) March 15, 2019
19. First time in SF. About to bomb a hill. Def sketched out. Cadillac pulls up. Driver yells “Charge it, charge it, get some, cmon pussy!”
RIP Jake Phelps 🙏🙏🙏
— Anthony Pappalardo (@anthonypops) March 15, 2019
Jake Phelps, editor of Thrasher for the last 26 years, passed away earlier today. “People always call me an asshole,” Phelps told @willystaley in 2016. “That’s because I don’t stop.” https://t.co/OTFs9LKgfz
— California Sunday (@CalSunday) March 15, 2019
Jake Phelps never married or had children. He is remembered for his passion for skateboarding and the ability to inspire others. No details about his cause of death have been released.