Jake Phelps, the caustic, funny and brash longtime editor of skateboarding’s most revered magazine, Thrasher, a position that made him a tastemaker in a subculture known for resenting authority, was found dead Thursday at his home in San Francisco. He was 56. His death was announced by Thrasher, which did not specify a cause.
“Just as we need food and water to survive, Jake needed skateboarding to get his blood pumping,” Tony Vitello, Thrasher’s publisher, wrote.
In a phone interview, Vitello said Phelps would be cremated with his skateboard.
Phelps was at the top of Thrasher’s masthead for half his life, a position that made him both loved and hated in the insular world of skateboarding.
James Kendall Phelps was born Sept. 24, 1962, in San Francisco. His parents called their son by his initials, J.K., which eventually became Jake. Phelps joined Thrasher in the mid-1980s.
His sister, Marie Phelps, described a wide gulf between the man in private and public. One “saw a different side when he let down the mask of the Phelper,” she said. “He was a vulnerable, deep, thoughtful person.”