Dogtown is mourning the death of Jay Adams, who as a member of the Z-Boys skateboarding crew in the late 1970s helped to pioneer the sport and define skateboarding subculture (see “The Spark at Rest,” page 6).
Adams, 53, died of a heart attack on Aug. 15 while surfing in Mexico and is survived by his wife Tracy, 19-year-old son Seven and 12-year-old daughter Venice. Family members plan to scatter his ashes in the ocean off Venice Beach during a memorial paddle out on Aug. 30.
A sidewalk memorial for Adams stands outside the Venice Originals Skateboard Shop on Pacific Avenue in Venice and local muralist Jonas Never, who frequently refers to skate culture in his work, is painting a mural of Adams nearby.
Z-Boy Allen Sarlo was vacationing with Adams and his wife when he died.
“He was having the best surfing trip of his life,” Sarlo, who grew up down the street from Adams in Venice, said from Mexico. “He was a rebel, but he had style. He was the James Dean of skating.”
Venice Originals’ Lance Lemond knew Adams for 30 years and said Adams remained humble despite his notoriety.
“As famous as he was, he never made anyone else feel like they didn’t belong [to the skating subculture],” Lemond said. “We skated in a lot of the same places, and even though I was younger than he was he never made you feel different.”
Adams served time in prison for a 1982 assault that led to a man’s death and for drug-related charges in the 1990s, but Sarlo said he had turned his life around.
“He was really spiritual,” Sarlo said. “The last couple of years had been pretty good.”
— Gary Walker