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Thrasher Editor-in-Chief Jake Phelps Has Passed Away Aged 56


Jake Phelps, editor-in-chief of skateboarding bible Thrasher magazine, has passed away aged 56. A skateboarding icon, Phelps was in charge of the magazine for more than 20 years.

His death was confirmed by Thrasher publisher Tony Vitello on the magazine’s website and Instagram. “Jake Phelps was 100 percent 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,” Vitello wrote.

No cause of death has been confirmed, but his uncle, Clark Phelps, wrote in a Facebook post that Phelps had “died suddenly and easy today.”

Read reactions from the skateboarding community below.

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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

A post shared by THRASHER MAGAZINE (@thrashermag) on Mar 14, 2019 at 6:09pm PDT

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Jake may have ribbed me and I may have ribbed him back but goddamn if he didn’t remember every single thing about me and my career down to the beads I used to wear around my neck when we first met at an NSA amateur contest when I was a young vert skater from Nebraska. His mind was truly remarkable. In life we like to play the game. Us vs Them. Them vs Us. It’s part of what makes it interesting. Without it I think it would all be a a real bore. But in the end… we are all fighting for the same thing. We all love it the way we love it. A loss for you is a loss for us. Every part of me feels for Jake’s friends and family and for the people he loved and loved him back. Original wouldn’t even begin to describe him. A great mind. Rest easy, Jake. Rest easy. – sb

A post shared by The Berrics (@berrics) on Mar 14, 2019 at 9:11pm PDT

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There will never be anyone like Jake Phelps @thrasheradio and he was usually right about everything, thinking back. To echo what @thrashermag said, he loved skateboarding 💯🖤. I would sometimes cross the street to avoid him, but I can remember so much of what he’s said to me, a lot of calls I got from him, 415-666-something, struck fear in me to answer, but left me with quotes I’ll remember forever ‘what are you doing still asleep, you better have been up late last night with Jason Dill and the generators..” (the name of my future band if I form one). That I worked for him and Thrasher for a few years is probably my proudest career brag, it changed my life. He had one of the biggest impacts on skateboarding as far as defining the culture; could it have been the biggest? When I think what it means to be a skater and what covering, photographing, talking about skateboarding looks and sounds like, Jake Phelps is one of the loudest and most distinct voices. It’s what you have to measure yourself against, ‘will Jake think this webisode is rad or lame?’ ‘What does Jake think about the Olympics?’ ‘Do I have to roll in?’ Agree with him or not, you know Jake is one of those voices that this whole skate shit is measured by. Now that he’s gone do we all have license just to kook everything? Who’s gonna keep track? Anyway, I didn’t like you but I loved you, we will miss you Jake.

A post shared by Patrick O'Dell (@epiclylaterd) on Mar 14, 2019 at 10:05pm PDT

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Unreal and tragic news about the passing of Jake Phelps. He was a true skateboarder to the end, a fan of diverse styles and a passion for the deep history of skate tricks. He used to jokingly call this weird fakie footplant impossible trick the “Spaghetti Western” and I will always use that name in his honor. Thank you for everything, Jake. This frame grab is from @thrashermag “Hall Of Meat” and we are laughing about one of my worst slams… a perfect example of quality time with Phelper.

A post shared by Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) on Mar 14, 2019 at 8:24pm PDT

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Rip Jake Phelps ❤️🙏❤️

A post shared by TJ🤩 (@enwhytj) on Mar 14, 2019 at 8:37pm PDT

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Glad we did a Skate Rock together late night beers talking About Jerry’s Kids ❤️🤘🏾 love ya Jake thanks for the photo @nuge666

A post shared by Atiba Jefferson (@atibaphoto) on Mar 14, 2019 at 7:25pm PDT



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