Jake Phelps

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Jake Phelps
Jake Phelps, 2009 (cropped).jpg
Phelps at a 2009 skateboarding contest
BornJames Kendall Phelps
(1962-09-24)September 24, 1962
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedMarch 14, 2019(2019-03-14) (aged 56)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Other namesPhelper
OccupationMagazine editor

James Kendall "Jake" Phelps (September 24, 1962 – March 14, 2019) was an American skateboarder and magazine editor. Phelps led the magazine Thrasher as editor-in-chief for 26 years.[1]

Early life[edit]

James Kendall Phelps was born in San Francisco, California, to parents Kitty and Kendall Phelps, and lived there until the age of 11.[2][3] His parents called him "J. K.", which eventually became "Jake".[2] He had a sister, Marie.[4] After his parents split up, he lived with his mother in Marblehead, Massachusetts.[3]

Phelps began skating at the age of 13.[1] In 1977, Phelps began working at Zero Gravity, a skate park in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[3] For a short time, he was hired by PepsiCo to do skate demos in schools.[3] Phelps dropped out of high school by the end of the 1970s.[4]


Phelps moved back to San Francisco in the early 1980s. He began working for Thrasher while he worked at Concrete Jungle skate shop in the Haight district.[3] While working at the shop, Thrasher's editor, Kevin Thatcher, approached Phelps to write a product review column. In 1993, after boxing merchandise for a few years in the shipping department at Thrasher, Phelps was promoted to editor, where he remained for 26 years.[3]

As Thrasher's editor, Phelps selected the Skater of the Year (SOTY) beginning in 1993.[5] Phelps' final selection, the 2018 SOTY, was Tyshawn Jones.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Beginning in August 2005, Phelps played lead guitar in a band, Bad Shit, with Tony Trujillo and Trujillo's wife, Ashley "Trixie" Trujillo.[4] The band toured both in the US and internationally.[3]

In July 2017, Phelps suffered a serious head injury while skating near Dolores Park in San Francisco during an unpermitted event.[7]

Phelps died on March 14, 2019, aged 56.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Robertson, Michelle (March 15, 2019). "Jake Phelps, editor of Thrasher magazine and skateboarding legend, is dead". SFGate.
  2. ^ a b Staley, Willy (March 20, 2019). "Jake Phelps Dies at 56; as Thrasher Editor, a Skateboarding Guru". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Staley, Willy (March 24, 2016). "Thrashed". The California Sunday Magazine.
  4. ^ a b c Vainshtein, Annie; Whiting, Sam (March 14, 2019). "Thrasher editor Jake Phelps' devotion to skateboarding transcended community at large". Datebook. Archived from the original on March 16, 2019. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  5. ^ Davis, Josh (March 15, 2019). "From the Mag Himself: Opinions on Skating's Most Opinionated Magazine". HYPEBEAST.
  6. ^ "UPDATE: Tyshawn Jones Wins 2018 Skater of the Year". Skate Newswire. December 15, 2018.
  7. ^ Elle, Jean (July 13, 2017). "Skateboarder Recounts Wipeout at SF Event From Hospital Bed". NBC Bay Area. Archived from the original on March 15, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.