Marty Grimes "The Godfather"
Your contributions to the sport are many and being there at the beginning of round wall riding is tremendous! First off, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to chat with Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine. The iconic image of you carving "OXNARD" was the first poster on my wall in my youth. I was stoked on skateboarding because of your early influence on me and still am. Thank you sir.
Images by Dave Barker and Jim Goodrich
Marty, when did you first pick up a skateboard and what kind was it?
I would have to say that the first board that I ever rode was a tiny red board with metal wheels that was in my cousin’s back yard, it hit me all at once like it was the Holy Grail. They lived on a hill and that first ride down their driveway, I was hooked.
Had you seen anybody skateboard previously that really impressed you?
No but, my family used to go to Mexico on fishing trips in the early 60’s, my god brother Rick Blocker would always be there surfing with his friends and to me skateboarding seemed an extension of that.
How old were you when all this happened and about what year was it?
I was about six, that would have been around 1967
At some point you got into riding round wall, what was your first experience like and who was part of the crew that you skated with at that time?
One of the first pools I remember was the rabbit hole on the north side of Santa Monica. The pool was owned by a magician & was shaped like a rabbit, the deep end had the tail in the middle, if you were really ripping you could grind through the whole thing.
I skated that pool with my brother Clyde, Greg Rachal, Jerry Miller, Chuck Askherneese, Derek Johnson and the rest of the guys. One of my favorite sessions there was just me and T.A. (Tony Alva) you can ask him about that one.
Was your family down with you skateboarding all the time?
I had a pretty tight knit family, they didn’t really understand it but my brother and I enjoyed, it so that was good enough for them. Honestly in their defense nobody understood it because skating was so new. In the late 60’s, early 70’s I think a lot of people realized how truly close skateboarding was to surfing, and If your imagination would allow you, in skateboarding the waves were good everyday. That being said I have the deepest respect for the people bold enough to be called surfers and for the influence they had on skateboarding.
What was your set up when you first started pool riding?
A handmade stick, Chicago trucks and brand X wheels because I couldn’t afford the Cadillacs.
Do you remember that feeling you had when you first got vertical in a pool and can you share that with us?
How could you forget? The reason why I keep skating is because you get that instant feeling of freedom every time you step on a board, the first time I skated a pool I knew this was what we’d been waiting for, finally the arena that allowed us to push the limits far beyond what was previously known.
Who was the first company or skate shop that showed interest in your skating?
EZ-Rider, Jay’s dad Kent split off from Zephyr and created EZ-Rider skate team, my brother and I and some friends were skating outside the Santa Monica Civic during a surf film event in the heart of Dogtown, some of the boyz were there and took notice. Ray Flores asked us if we wanted to try out for a new skate team.
Jay told me years later that he had already picked my brother and I for the team but he still let the other guys try out. Jay seemed to judge people on who they were, not what they were, he was the original seed and when you met him you knew that you were in the presence of skateboarding royalty. And partially through his influence I rode for companies like Town & Country, Kryptonics, Tracker, Gullwing, Flyaway helmets were dropping from the ceiling & they saved my life several times, unfortunately I have the footage to prove it! However the relationship with Z-Flex was what really mattered, Kent Sherwood changed the face of skateboarding forever with the different formulas and materials he brought to the table, the world knew there would be few limits in the evolution of skateboarding creative technology. Chris and Ethel took care of the decisions regarding the day to day nuts & bolts of running the team and were also innovative in several other aspects of skateboarding, Chris designed wheels, trucks and bearings, everything worked and it was our own deal.
Marty what shoes did you wear to skate in during those early pool riding days?
Any kind of flat deck shoe that we could get our hands on, we went through a lot of shoes in those days. Vans were good because you could buy just one but my favorite’s were these deck shoes that had a white line up the back, they were only around for a few years.
What were those backyard pool skate sessions like and who else was there?
Wonderful, terrifying, sketchy & real. Just your closest friends.
Did you scout out for empty pools by yourself?
Of course, everyone who cared was always on the lookout for the perfect pool. In 1977 I started at Beverly Hills High school, at the top of Loma Vista one of the best hills you’ve ever skated, was a water tower that we called the top of the world, If you stood on top you could see all the empty pools in Beverly Hills and in the Valley.
In those days you seemed to be able to spend time wherever you wanted to and we wanted to spend time in the best pools available, there was no end to what we would do and no stone was left unturned.
What shape is your favorite to ride when it comes to backyard pools?
I haven’t ridden my favorite yet but in general I’ve always loved a right hand kidney, today’s pools and skate parks have surfaces to ride that we only dreamed about when we were coming up.
What was the first skate park that you skated?
Carlsbad, Reseda and Oxnard were kind of the first ones.
Was there one skate park that you always wanted to ride but never got the chance to skate it?
Of course we all wanted to go everywhere but not really, I heard a lot about Cherry Hill and saw some great shots of Shogo, so I kinda wanted to go there but California had great spots everywhere.
Tell us about your current skate company and how people can purchase one of your decks.
I’ve been making boards since the mid 60’s as a labor of love, and through a lot of R & D I think I’ve learned a trick or two. I started Hoodwood Skateboards twenty years or so ago, and we take pride in the product we produce, I’m happy to say that these boards ride unreal and are a great representation of the knowledge acquired from over fifty years of skateboarding, we’ve never had a dissatisfied customer.
We have Longboards and other boards for banks, Pool boards, popsicle's, crusiers, woodslide air rails, risers, shirts, hats, you name it and it works.
Check all of it out and our coverage of the skateboard lifestyle, from backyard pool sessions to the Vans pool party at Hoodwoodskates.com.
What wheel and truck combination are you currently riding?
These days I ride Ace trucks, Rockin’ Ron’s bearings and I’m back on Kryptonics, I like the 55mm whites, technology has come a long way.
Where can one go and have an opportunity to session with the great Marty Grimes?
You tell me, I’m always on the lookout for a great pool and if you know of one my friends and I would be happy to come and skate it with you.
Any last words, shout outs, special thanks, or messages to the industry?
Skateboarding is an industry, but it’s also a lifestyle I’m proud to call my own.
I’m thankful for my family Mary, Raith, Hollis, Eliana and all the friends I’ve met living it.
RIP to my brother Clyde and Jay and others that are gone now who inspired us.