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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eric Swenson R.I.P.

ERIC SWENSON R.I.P. August 4th, 1947 - June 20th, 2011
Eric Swenson, Richard Novak, Jay Shiurman, Fausto Vitello, Independent, Thrasher, Kevin Thatcher, Spitfire Wheels and Think Skateboards
Eric Swenson, Craig Stecyk, & Fausto Vitello (driving the forklift),
at the Ermico/Independent foundry in San Francisco, CA, 1983.
Photo by Morizen Foche. From" Built To Grind" Page.29
Thrasher Co-Founder Eric Swenson Commits Suicide at San Francisco Police Station...

Eric Swenson, skateboarding culture mainstay and co-founder of Thrasher Magazine and Independent Trucks, committed suicide in front of a San Francisco Police station on June 20, 2011. He was 64 years old.

At around 8:40am, Eric Swenson approached the Mission District police station (Valencia at 17th St), where he shot himself in front of the building. He did not enter the building, speak to any police officers, or threaten any bystanders. It's unclear why he chose to take his life. Some friends speculate that he may have been distraught over ongoing pain from a leg injury he suffered several years ago. Eric Swenson and Fausto Vitello founded Independent Trucks in 1978. They also would team up with Kevin Thatcher in 1981 to found High Speed Productions, which eventually published Thrasher.

Thrasher advertising director Eben Sterling knew Swenson for 18 years, said Thrasher magazine established skateboarding as a subculture.
Eric Swenson, Richard Novak, Jay Shiurman, Fausto Vitello, Independent, Thrasher, Kevin Thatcher, Spitfire Wheels and Think Skateboards
Independent Co-Founder Eric Swenson serves his
duty in this public service announcement. Published in
Thrasher October 1982.
Picture From: "Built To Grind." Page 122
Before Thrasher skateboarding was just another trend like yo-yos, rollerblades and Hula Hoops. But now it had its own music, dialect and it’s own fashion style,” Sterling said. Swenson’s partner in the skateboarding ventures was the more outgoing Fausto Vitello, the face of the company who passed away of a heart attack five years ago. Michael Brooke, publisher of Concrete Wave, a skateboarding magazine in Toronto, said Wednesday that Swenson was "one of the critical architects" of the revitalized art of skateboarding. "Eric Swenson is really one of those guys who drives things forward," Brooke said. "The funny thing about skateboarding is that a lot of times, there are a lot more followers than there are visionaries".

Independent was established in 1978. The trucks were manufactured at the Ermico foundry, in the Bay area of San Francisco. The company was co-founded by Richard Novak, Jay Shiurman, Fausto Vitello, and Eric Swenson in 1978, and the first set of trucks to make a public appearance was the Stage 1 on May 23, 1978 in Newark CA during the Newark Pro Bowl contest. According to Rick Blackhart, the Independent Truck (or Indy) was designed as a response to the lack of good skateboard trucks on the market at the time; Blackhart stated that, of the two main other truck companies on the market, 'one broke, and one didn’t turn', referring to Bennett Trucks and Tracker Trucks, respectively. That was so true... The iconic logo for the trucks, the Alisee (often mistaken for the Iron Cross), came out in 1979 when Pope John Paul II was wearing the icon on his vestment on the cover of TIME magazine June 18, 1979. It has remained the Independent logo since inception. The current model of Independent Trucks, the Stage X (also known as the "stage 10"), was released in 2008.

The Independent Stage 9 Low truck was released on the 9 September 2006, as a lighter and lower profile version of the Independent compared to the regular Stage 9. Eric Koston left Royal Trucks and signed with Independent and helped finish the design of the Indy Low.
Eric Swenson, Richard Novak, Jay Shiurman, Fausto Vitello, Independent, Thrasher, Kevin Thatcher, Spitfire Wheels and Think Skateboards
The Iconic cover of Time Magazine depicts Pope J.P II
with a pallium. The red version at the bottom of his robe
was the initial inspiration for Independent's Icon...
Independent sponsors amateur and professional skateboarders from all over the world. The Independent Trucks brand is owned and distributed by NHS, Inc. They have a clothing and accessories range, sell spare parts, and released a book titled “Built to Grind : 25 Years of Hardcore Skateboarding” in 2003 on the 25th anniversary of the brand.

Eric Swenson also helped found Spitfire Wheels and Think Skateboards, among other skate brands. Fausto Vitello died in 2006 after suffering a heart attack while cycling.

Read below the Thrasher Magazine: Tribute to Eric Swenson

"Ideas come a dime a dozen. People talk, but seldom act. Eric Swenson got things done. Never one to clamor for the spotlight, he preferred the hard work, orchestrating the show from behind the scenes. It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of a dear friend and one of our founders. His mark on skateboarding is extraordinary. Without him there would be no Thrasher Magazine, Independent trucks, or Spitfire wheels, to name a few. He leaves behind his wife Linda and sister Rebekah, along with a tremendous number of admirers."

All pictures and background information from: "Built To Grind" 25 years of hardcore skateboarding from the archives of Independent Truck Company. Published in 2004 by NHS Inc.

Rest In Peace Eric Swenson and Thank You for what you have brought to SkateBoarding…

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