Jay Adams, a legendary skateboarder who was part of the famed skate team documented in Dogtown and Z-Boys, has died at the age of 53.
Stacy Peralta, who directed that documentary, confirmed his friend's death in an Instagram post: “I just received the terribly sad news that Jay Adams passed away last night due to a massive heart attack, send your love,” he said.
A representative at the Peralta-affliliated production company Nonfiction Unlimited said someone there created the Instagram announcement and that the director was not available to comment:
A longtime acquaintance of Adams, Venice surfer and skater Ger-i Lewis, told us he found out about Adams' death today through a mutual friend.
He said many of the hard-partying skaters of that generation are barely making it past the age of 50. Lewis last met up with Adams in Hawaii in 2009. He said: “You could sense that in him, that our time is really short.”
TMZ reported that Adams died of a heart attack late Thursday while on a surfing holiday in Mexico with his wife.
Tributes to Adams went up on the Facebook pages of his friends and fans. The Venice Originals skate shop simply posted a photo of him with pals on its Facebook page. Ditto for the Facebook page of photographer C.R. Stecyk III, whose work has documented the Z-Boys since the beginning.
See also: The Ghosts of Dogtown
Adams was perhaps the most hard-charging, hard-partying skater in the Venice and Santa Monica team known as the Z-Boys.
He spent a few stints behind bars and in 2008 was released from prison for drug trafficking. Lewis said he was cleaning up his life. “The last decade was pretty rough, being locked up, divorce,” he said.
The Z-Boys brought street and pool skating to the fore in the 1970s. Adams let his surfing influence seep into his time on four wheels, Lewis said.
“He was extremely radical, yet fluid,” he said, “definitely steeped in surfing. He had these low-slung surf maneuvers that nobody else was doing.”
A young Adams was captured skating on Santa Monica's Bicknell Hill by photographer Stecyk in an image used as the box-cover art for Dogtown and Z-Boys. He was portrayed by Emile Hirsch in the subsequent feature film Lords of Dogtown.
Perhaps more influential than portrayals of his skate maneuvers, Lewis says, was Adams hard-charging spirit.
“Go for it,” Lewis said. “What ever he did he just went. He was never concerned with the hype, fame, money. He just enjoyed surfing and skateboarding.”