Tom’s gone

Posted by Ken Campbell September 28, 2012 1 Comment 1302 views

Back in the misty past, during what we older folks call “the 70’s,” I was deep in the process of growing up which, in Santa Barbara, California, involved spending an inordinate amount of time on a skateboard. I skated drainage ditches and pools, parking lots and hills. It was just what I did, as did everybody (almost everybody) that I knew.

Clay wheels were it when I started riding, but by the mid-70’s, the urethane wheels had taken over and changed skateboarding forever. One of the forces of the skating world was Santa Barbara resident, Tom Sims. The rest of the world probably knows him better as the inventor of snowboarding or as the stunt-double for James Bond in the 1985 “A View to a Kill,” but I still remember going to a skateboarding demo down at East Beach where the whole Sims team was throwing down moves in the first plywood half pipe that I had ever seen. I remember wishing I could be that cool.

Tom Sims died on September 12th in Santa Barbara. He was 61 years old. I first learned of his passing a couple days ago when I got off the plane in SB and was thumbing through the paper while waiting for my rental car. There was a big paddle-out for him last Sunday down at West Beach (he was a pretty accomplished surfer as well), and hundreds of people were in attendance.

I actually still have the board I had in high school; it still has the same Sims wheels on it that it did back then. For a blast from the past, check out this old Merv Griffin show. Tom sporting the long-haired Jesus look and an unbelievably young Edie Robertson gorilla gripping and doing one-foot nose wheelies around some sound stage in Burbank. It’s grainy and the overall quality is poor, but for a glimpse of the world of pre-ollie freestyle skating and barefoot ditch surfing, it’s about as good a period piece as there is out there.

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