Tony Alva

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Tony Alva
Tony Alva (2012)
Born (1957-09-02) September 2, 1957 (age 58)
Santa Monica, California, United States
Occupation Skateboarder, entrepreneur, musician

Tony Alva (born September 2, 1957) is an American skateboarder, most prominently known as one of the original members of the Z-Boys skateboarding team.[1] The Transworld SKATEboarding magazine ranked him in eighth position in its list of the "30 Most Influential Skaters" and a video interview was published in May 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

Tony Alva was born September 2, 1957 in Santa Monica, California to Mexican/American parents. Alva first began surfing and skateboarding in 1968, at the age of 11.


As a result of the influence of the new surf style happening in the Hawaiian Islands, Alva skated with a radical new powerful free form surf style. Alva's style was revolutionary and stood in stark contrast with the contrived traditional style of the era which was still based around tricks formulated in the 1960s. His skill, style and charismatic nature led to him becoming a professional skateboarder and very famous from his early teens.[citation needed]

In 1972, he joined the Z-Boys skateboard team along with Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta. Alva and the other Z-Boys (also surfers) were among the first to bring skating empty pools into the mainstream. Alva is considered an originator in vertical skateboarding and is credited as one of the first skateboarders to do frontside airs.[citation needed]

In 1974, Alva started his long relationship working with Vans, the original skate shoe established in 1966.[3]

Alongside professional skateboarders Arto Saari, Brandon Biebel, and Stevie Williams, Alva completed a photo and video shoot for Playboy that was shot by Irish photographer Tony Kelly.[4] The shoot is entitled "Playboy Poolside" and features the four subjects skateboarding in and around an empty swimming pool.[5]


Tony Alva on an Alva Skates Ad

In 1977, at the age of 19, Alva shunned the major skate companies to form his own company, entitled Alva Skates. It was the first company run and owned by a skateboarder, as well as being one of the first to use layered Canadian maple plywood in skateboard decks. In December 2005, Alva opened two retail stores in Southern Californian locations: Oceanside, near San Diego, and on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.[6]

In December 2006, he celebrated the first anniversary of the stores with a party at the Los Angeles shop, which was attended by some of the old Z-Boys, current Alva Team members, MySpace friends, skate fans, and other minor celebrities. Alva signed autographs and served as the DJ for the catered event. The "bad boy" image of the Z-Boy was reiterated in the postcard invitation for the event, which featured a profane drawing.

Alva also pioneered the first Rip Grip product, a material that could stick onto the underside of a skateboarder's deck, making it easier to maintain grip.


In the early eighties, Tony played bass guitar for the "Scoundrels", a local OC band with "Rico" Reid Rolan on drums. In 2007 Alva formed the band G.F.P. (General Fucking Principle) with DFL vocalist Tom Paul Davis (Crazy Tom), guitarist Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks, Bad Religion) and former Suicidal Tendencies drummer Amery Smith. Amery later left the band for personal reasons and was replaced by Joey Castillo (QOTSA, B'last).[7][8]

Media appearances[edit]

Alva is featured in the documentary on Santa Monica and Venice Beach skate culture Dogtown and Z-Boys which was fictionalized into the 2005 feature film Lords of Dogtown. He also played the role of Tony Bluetile in the 1978 film, Skateboard: The Movie. Tony Alva signed a three-year deal with Vans shoes and his pro model high-top was released in 2006. Tony Alva was featured in the video game, Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. In 2012 he appeared on an episode of the A&E reality series Storage Wars to appraise a skateboard. He is seen on the cover of the album The Action is Go by Orange County-based rock band Fu Manchu. Alva makes an appearance in the 2012 documentary Bones Brigade: An Autobiography directed by Stacy Peralta.


Alva was voted "Skateboarder of the Year" in Skateboarder Magazine's readers poll and he set the Guinness World Record for barrel jumping.[9]


  1. ^ Juice (June 1, 2002). "Tony Alva interview by Jay Adams" (Journal). Jay Adams. Juice. Retrieved June 1, 2002. 
  2. ^ TWS (May 2, 2013). "30TH ANNIVERSARY INTERVIEWS: TONY ALVA PART 1". Transworld SKATEboarding. Grind Media. Retrieved February 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ Tony Alva
  4. ^ "Biography". Tony Kelly Photography. Tony Kelly Photography. 2013. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ Tony Kelly (June 5, 2013). "Playboy Poolside by Tony Kelly" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved June 9, 2013. 
  6. ^ Tony Alva
  7. ^ "G.F.P. General Fucking Principle / Bio". Reverb Nation. eMinor, Inc. 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  8. ^ "About". G.F.P on Facebook. Facebook. November 23, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  9. ^ James O'Mahoney (April 29, 2012). "1975 USSA World Invitational Skateboard Championships". Juice Magazine. Juice Enterprises, Inc. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  • Friedman, Glen E.; Stecyk, C.R. (2000). Dog Town – The Legend of The Z-Boys. New York City: Burning Flags Press. ISBN 0-9641916-4-4. 
  • Friedman, Glen E. (1994). Fuck You Heroes (Photographs 1976–1991). New York City: Burning Flags Press. ISBN 0-9641916-0-1. 
  • Brooke, Michael (1999). "Appendix C: Skateboard Competitions (1963–1993)". The Concrete Wave. Toronto: Warwick Publishing. ISBN 1-894020-54-5. 

External links[edit]