|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.
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 at Los Altos Pool|
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 in the "Who's Hot"" section of SkateBoarder Magazine, circa 1979|
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.
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.
|Don Waldo Autry|
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 in Skateboard World September 1977|
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...
|Tunnel ad for Waldo Autry|
|Waldo Autry, inventor of the kickturn, 1957-2013 RIP|