Lance Collins & Jeff Parker with twin fin, brothel creepers and jelly roll.
To me, the late 70's and early 80's was an exciting time in Southern California with a thriving underground punk rock and new wave music scene and a booming skateboard culture.
It was around this time that a small group of innovative surfers and shapers from around Newport Beach, who had become tired of the placid state of surf culture with its black wetsuits and straight line single fin surfing, started doing really interesting things with their surfing and surfboards. Peter Schroff, Shawn Stussy, Greg Pautch and Lance Collins were the driving force behind the movement that was latter to become known as 'Echo Beach'.
It was this avant-garde movement of radical surfing moves and outrageous sprays combined with wrap around sunglasses and night club clothes worn to the beach that set fire to my teen age imagination and captured my soul, as you can see in this blog laid out before you.
I argue, from my position of an impressionable 12 year old in Australia at the time, that this movement within surf culture in the period 1980 to 83 is, in a small way, is equivalent to the world changing, uniquely American cultural phenomenons of Jazz music, Rock n Roll or Abstract Expressionism.
(It has been argued that Abstract Expressionism as an art movement was artificially fueled by the CIA in an attempt to confound the Soviets. True or not it doesn't detract from the originality of the concept.)
What started with flamboyant sprays and checker board patterns and ended with flouro colored volley ball shorts lining the racks of chain stores around the world by the end of the decade.
What I am saying is, the graphic style and attitude that launched the biggest names in chain store surfwear in the early 80's, OP, Maui & Sons, Quiksilver, Mossimo, Instinct, Wild Oats, Catchit, Off Shore among many other, took their inspiration from the Wave Tools team riders and spray booth in the back of Costa Mesa.
Jeff Parkers Echo Beach movie and Jamie Brisick's new book 'The hottest 100 yards' poignantly sums up the era and accurately document the characters of the time.
The movie presents a plethora of images of Lance Collins twin fins, to me the most exciting artifact to come from the period. Inspired by MR twins but in their own way uniquely Californian, with their shorter stubbier fins, thicker rails flatter rocker and shorter wider plan shapes and big fat tails.
It is my mission while in the US to find an original early 80's Lance Collins twin fin. Like a rare flower they blossomed everywhere in Newport for a couple of hot hot summers and then were gone, barely making it out of the Newport valley and certainly not making it overseas. I've come close to getting my hands on one but to date to no avail.
Jeff Parker with custom wetsuit designed to match his new wave spray
Danny Kwok with short skinny tie and short fat twin fin
As one Wave Tools twin fin passes.....
.....another comes into view
Trans Am and checker board Twin Fin
“In the early eighties, a 100-yard stretch in Newport Beach became a launch pad for breakaway trends in the surf world. Like punk rock, it was less about technical chops than audacity. It challenged the status quo; gave birth to the surfing equivalent of the garage band.”
frame grabs from 'Echo Beach' used with much respect but without permission
First, I love your blog.ReplyDelete
As a surfer who was into punk and lived in the south bay up until 1980, I will tell you as an eyewitness (and abuse recipient) that surfers in the US were way behind the times in regards to punk culture. Radio and popular taste in the US were too compared to the UK, Aus. and NZ- just compare the top 40 lists in the period you're talking about. But surfers (my "other" subcultural group) were still very much post-hippies, and from my experience. super intolerant of anything punk.
I remember these guys well. In the surf culture of the time they would have been considered edgy and radical, but in the punk world, by 1980 to 83 these guys and their style would be considered laughable weak. Remember there was a credibility war in the early days of punk that made distinctions between artistic/grassroots punk and corporate, watered-down"new wave". These guys fall dead in the second category for sure, and chronologically way missed the boat so to speak.
Again the only reason they might stand out is in relation to the quite conservative period surf culture mores (I didn't notice anything like a shift from 70s hippie mellow to something more culturally current in the surf world 'till more like the late 80s here- really).
It's a grass-is-greener thing for sure, but I think you guys in Australia had a way, way hipper popular culture for the times, at least as far as new music getting radio play goes, and I'm sure you must know that you also were distinctly more 'ripping" surfers than us, for what that's worth.
And I think you know it too, but comparing "echo beach" to jazz and abstract impressionism in cultural impact is... you know, come on! Comparing any influence in the growth of the surf industry to the cultural impact of art forms is a false equivalency.
I would recommend looking at some of Greg Mungall's boards, if you can find them. Greg was an early eighty's pro whose shaping was influenced by Lance. Amazing craftsman and human being.ReplyDelete
Shit, this takes me way back. I do remember Kwok and Murray and, shit, what was Hugh's last name? anyway, I grew up on Lido Isle and recall those surfing days at the various groins, the point, blackies, Wave Tools, Russell Surfboards, Stussy, Mr. Kuhn's surf team at Harbor, etc etc. Two wives, 2 kids, a Ph.D. and three different countries later, here I am working in London as a banker and living in Amsterdam on the weekends. Miss the waves and the sunshine, but it ain't bad over here either.ReplyDelete
Wow, Marc Nunes! It was Hugh Johnson and the surf coach was Lex Kuhta.Delete
Yes Preston! Lex Kuhta! Preston Murray? Anyway I'm a bit slow responding. Merry Christmas!Delete
Preston Murray? Hey, yes, Lex Kuhta!!! Merry Christmas from a'dam!Delete
I personally surfed 54th. street, Newport, during the Echo Beach era. It was a very cool time and was part of the Orange county punk movement.ReplyDelete
I still see Jeff parker in the water, we are both older but still have the same passion. The style that came out of Echo Beach was original and fun.
So many great memories, cool designs and new moves on the face of a wave, its all part of the progress of surfing, just in Newp's we are a little
cooler and the chic's are hotter (Richie Collins was always a kook though)