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Skateboarding News

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Waldo Autry 1957-2013 R.I.P

Waldo Autry passing vert at the Mt. Baldy pipe. That shot has been the most published skateboard photo
of the last century. Photo James O'Mahoney.
Don Waldo Autry, one of the true pioneers of modern skateboarding has passed away...... He was made famous in the mid-late 70's by skating pools and Mt Baldy and by coverage on several issues of SkateBoarder magazine. He could have been featured more, but he always refused to wear SkateBoarder Magazine colors, so Warren Bolster kinda shun him from the mag. Waldo is an old school skateboarding legend. Ask any big-name boarder who was active in the late 1970s and they'll know who he is. He never really competed, but he's truly respected...

The James O'Mahoney picture of Waldo Autry at Mt Baldy (see left) in the late 70's is truly iconic and has been featured thousands of times.

The circumstances of Waldo Autry's death are not yet know. But rumor has it that he died of natural causes and the Orange County Coroner's office has not yet released an official cause of death.

Autry's death came just five days before he was to be featured in a movie, "The Signal Speed Run," which premieres Sunday at the Walter Pyramid at Cal State Long Beach.

Autry's early pool and pipe skills were also featured in the 1970s surf movie, "Five Summer Stories", an iconic surfing film that was one of the very first featuring ( a short but amazing at the time) skateboarding part.

Waldo Autry
Waldo at Los Altos Pool
A North Long Beach native, Waldo Autry birthed several of his tricks along the Los Angeles River bed where, as a kid, he would skate for hours.

Although he is known as one of Long Beach's finest sons, Autry's skateboarding skills extended far beyond the borders of Long Beach. In an interview with The Mercury News, Dave Hegstrom, one of Waldo’s friends said that: "There would never have been a Tony Hawk or anybody, if Waldo had not laid the pavement for everybody, and everybody acknowledges that." In the same post, Chris Strople said that Don Autry “set a precedent for much of the skating done today.” He added that : "He was one of the first true vertical skateboarders." He said. "He was the real icon for the skateboard industry and probably one of the most fearless that I know by far."

Waldo Autry liked making people laugh. He was the funniest guy there every was to be around. Indee, said Steve Olson: "Waldo was a happy-go-lucky guy who was fearless. Back then he paved the way for what is happening now," he said. "I think Waldo will not only go down as one of the pioneers of modern day skateboarding, but as a very good person, carefree and always trying to do good by others. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met."

In the book : "Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body", Ian Borden reveals that either Tony Alva or Waldo Autry invented the first kickturn in a pool. Even if a kickturn is now viewed as a non-trick (and a non-event), that was huge in the mid 70's when carving around a pool was the main way of skating in order to mimic the surfers. Hence, the kickturn can be considered as the first non-linear trick from where all other tricks are coming from...

In an interview with Juice Magazine, Waldo talks about the first time he did a kickturn: "I just started going faster and faster and going all the way around."

Waldo Autry
Waldo Autry in the "Who's Hot"" section of SkateBoarder Magazine, circa 1979
"The board was so much underneath my feet as I was going down, at one point, I thought, ‘If it’s right there and I’m almost stepping on it and doing a Mr. Wilson anyways, I’ll just step on it and go.’ All of a sudden, I made it.

Later in the interview he also talks about his first experience with Mt Baldy, when it was discovered saying that: "A little bit later we ended up at Mt. Baldy. Rodney Jesse, Scott Williams and Murray Estes were carving it pretty stylish. When I saw that, I figured I could do it, so I threw up this big fat carve. They were doing about 9:30 carves, so I just went ‘Waldo’ and did a 10:30 and pitched to the other side so hard. I got my bell rung."

Eventually he also adds that: "I was listening to things like Pink Floyd Welcome To The Machine at the time. All of a sudden, you're listening to this echo in the pipe. It's magic. It was insane. You get back in there and the noise was so surreal." Remember it was the 70's, and I'm sure it happened to a lot of us, but the first time I heard Pink Floyd Money in stereo, I was shocked... Especially the part where a guy is running from one side to another... So, experiencing a real echo must have been an amazing experience...

The death of Waldo is certainly a tragedy for all of us OG Skateboarder... You will be greatly missed Waldo.

Here is an interview that Waldo Autry gave to Tunnel Skateboards a while ago.

Waldo Autry
Name? Waldo
AKA? Don Autry
Born… Long Beach 1957
Year Started Skating? It appears to be 1964, my mom has Super 8 film to clue me in. I jumped over these boxes.
Famous For? Pipe riding. I’m the King of the Pipes.

Waldo Autry
Don Waldo Autry
When Team Tunnel? 1976 until 1978.
Set-Up for Team Tunnel… Waldo Cloud, Midtracks and Tunnel Rocks.
Contests Won? I don’t remember. I was in a slalom contest, a freestyle where I drank beer while competing. Mitch was flipping out. Then I downed the whole beer and the crowd went wild. I was killing it!
Events? On the top of my game, I had no competition in pipes and pools. I was the best around in my zone.
Gnarliest Wipe-Out? They were all the same. Fall. Bleed. Tape it up. Get back on the board.
How Did You Get on Team Tunnel? Good question. Ask Mitch.
Tunnel Memories… After working our asses off at 41st Ave. Skateboard shop, we got to go to the taco stand, have beers and eat tacos and burritos. Those were amazing burritos. And who could forget the stewardesses? And their friends?
Waldo Autry Skateboaed World
Waldo Autry in Skateboard World September 1977
Magazine Appearances? Bolster held out on anything that was really good because I wouldn’t take off the Skateboard Magazine shirt. There were some amazing photos he could’ve used.
Favorite Skate Spots? Riverminitoiletsuperfunnelfruitpipe.

Favorite Skaters? All y’all know who you are.

Other Teams You Skated For… Pepsi, Sims, Raco. I even took the van from Raco and Mitch bought it for me.

Still Skating? Skating again! I been racing for ten years. Be very aware that Waldo will be racing again and after a world title in luge.

Still Breathing: Yeah. A very relaxed breath that smells like vitamin V for vodka.

Any kids? 3 children, all from Debbie. Debbie #1, Debbie #3 and Debbie #5.

Tunes? Double Davids – Byrne and Bowie.

Flicks? 5 Summer Stories. Check it out since I’m in it.

Grub? Fuji’s avo shrimp taco! The sauce was the key.

Waldo’s Words to Live By… Don’t phone yet, there’s more!

Truly iconic! R.I.P Waldo...
Waldo Autry Tunnel Ad
Tunnel ad for Waldo Autry
Waldo Autry Backyard Pool Ripper, skateboarding, RIP
Waldo Autry, inventor of the kickturn, 1957-2013 RIP 

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I skate therefore I am: skateboard pools, pipes, parks, bowls and vert, daily skateboarding news...
posted by Xavier Lannes @ Thursday, January 24, 2013 

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sucks. I was honored to have raced at Signal Hill in 78 and one of the highlights was meeting Waldo.

January 24, 2013 at 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Heidi Horvath said...

This does suck.. so sad.. Our hearts are broken about this news.. Don may you Rip.. May you keep riding high on all the pipes and downhills in the sky!! Miss u bunches already.. xo

January 24, 2013 at 11:26 PM  
Anonymous alyse said...

I will miss my father dearly.

January 25, 2013 at 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Words alone cannot express the emptyness

January 26, 2013 at 12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are so very schocked & sadden of this news. Can anyone post information about his memorial. Waldo talke d about Movie premeire in Long Beach, we were sop pose to meet him!

January 26, 2013 at 1:02 AM  
Anonymous Rick Arellano said...

He was a good friend, with a great heart.

January 26, 2013 at 5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Empty ness Is Too


My heart is broken

He was my Wings

The Blue in His Eyes showed me Heaven

January 26, 2013 at 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more than a skater- one of the greatest loves of my life and still one of my closest friends- nicest person you could ever meet, blue eyes that were truely the window to his soul and the nicest ass I have ever seen. Love ya- miss ya- never forget ya.

January 27, 2013 at 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only met you twice but will never forget the charisma...Thanks to DT for introducing me to a legend. Even though I didnt know you well, I miss you and hope all is well and beautiful on the other side.

January 27, 2013 at 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember in Junior High School and High School we used to go to this house off of Downey and South Street and all the skateboard riders would ride in someone's pool i do not remember anyone living there, i remember the day he rode his skateboard down this very steep street in Signal Hill not sue what street that was, I remember going to skate parks with him, he was very talented and I will miss him dearly, actually saw him two years ago at the Jordan High School Reunion at Tracy's Bar and Grill. i actually got a picture taken of the both of us at the Reunion, last picture I have of him. I would occasionally run into him in Huntington Beach off of Main Street. He will definitely not be forgotten, his name and memory will live forever, RIP WALDO, Love Kylene Moran

January 27, 2013 at 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can tell you is that he had the BEST most fantastical stories I have ever heard , especially while getting my hair cut ( by the way was the best cut around) . I thought at first he was just BS-ing , but now after his early departure from earth and reading all the obits, I think they were all true. There are some people that are too wild , too nice and too loving , I believe he was all of them and more. I told my wife 4 weeks when I got my last hair cut from him that there was something not right with Don( Waldo) , something different , but I could put my finger on it. Looking back , I wish I would have asked him and been a friend to him as he has been to so many others. He was an artist , and like so many original ones , he passed before his time . I will miss him and hope to see him in heaven , then I can have the conversation we never had. RMHUST.COM

January 29, 2013 at 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don was a true friend to me. He somehow always knew the right thing to say or do, he had class but not the kind money buys, in fact he had little or no respect for money and would joke that " money would fall out of his pockets and someone would get rich following

January 30, 2013 at 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone else having trouble editing their comments ? Wont

January 30, 2013 at 11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don, it was an honor knowing you. My little girl is so sad she will not see you again. We will miss your antics here is Seal and your smiling face. You had a heart of gold and so admiral that you showed so much emotion for others. We will miss you dearly. RIP, The Bolander Family

February 1, 2013 at 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My funny Valintine, we had plans to spend it together..Valentine stay.." --------UK

February 2, 2013 at 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Glenn Ueda said...

I am so sorry to hear of Waldo"s passing. I remember skating the Vermont Funnel with him a few blocks from my hometown of Gardena. No one had the kind of courage, strength, and grace that he showed carving the walls of our beloved skate spot. He inspired me to push my skating to the next level. Waldo, thank you for showing us the way.

February 11, 2013 at 2:10 AM  

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