Freestyle skateboarding was never the manliest or the coolest aspect of skating. In fact, it was straight-up pansy shit. Whilst I hate homophobic slang, I cannot think of a better way to describe Freestyle than comparing it to a large pink flower that nobody really liked. Hopping around with your socks pulled up and your wheels tightened so tight that they don't roll wasn't exactly what the kids looked up to. "What does my dad do? Oh, he's err, dead" proclaimed the embarrassed Desiderio Jr. as his old man wooshed bow-legged pasthis school mates on the side of a 5inch wide skateboard. Of course, to most standard non-skateboarding humans, any adult rolling around on a skateboard may be a strange and childish sight, but it's hard for anybody to look at picture of a heavily tattooed Duane Peters doing a massive frontside air with a broken arm and cigarette in his mouth and call him a pussy (Ok, after recent events, Duane is probably a bad example of what a 'real man' is, but you get the gist). So when [ironically] Rocco simultaneously killed off both freestyle and vert skating, what would those that had practised for years do instead? Well, the vert guys threw away their Rectors and tried to keep collecting paycheques by awkwardly learning to ollie over flat hips and killing their ex girlfriends, or simply continued searching for Chin until they weren't paid anymore. The freestylers however chose a different route. Now the laughing stock of skateboarding, they could easily have packed up their headbands and finger tape (yeah, the grip was a bit harsh for their poor little hands to handle) and got jobs as hairdressers or dog walkers, but no - they fucking took over. Without doubt, the smartest guys (I would mention girls, but Diane didn't really crack it like the rest of them) in the whole industry. A select group of freestylers started companies, most of which you still know today, and proceeded to run skateboarding from the inside. Ask any of the guys below what they think of the death of freestyle - and they will all tell you that they had the last laugh... as they daintily pogo away atop of stacks of dollar bills.
Rodney invented everything. Straight up. Next time you go outside and do a flip trick, consider that Rodney was doing it, albeit on a twig, around the same time your parents got drunk and forgot to use a condom. He conclusively finished Freestyle before being forced to evolve to Street - where he killed it once his freestyle-style began to wear off. Shit, he even ripped on vert in the early days. An excellent yet strange (read up on the shit he does with his leg and a car tyre in the middle of the night) human and a truly deserving millionaire. Rodney owns Almost and Tensor and was one of the founders of World Industries. Plus if it wasn't for him (and Alan of course), you would never even think to ollie up a curb. Respect.
Welinder was featured prominently in the early Powell classics - The Bones Brigade Video Show and Future Primitive and tic tacced his way onto the set of Thrashin' where the dreamboat Corey Webster seemed to be on a first name basis with him. He then swapped the microscopic shorts and headbands for a suit and tie when he left Powell to start Birdhouse with Tony Hawk. Needless to say he's bloody loaded now.
Fuck knows what trick he is doing here, but this donkey-kicking Vision-ary went from 360s and handstands to much bigger numbers and handshakes as he became the founder and CEO of Sole Technology. If you have ever skated in a shoe with an E at the start of the brand, you have personally put a few dollars in Pierre-André Senizergues's pocket, and I am sure he thanks you for it.
Admittedly when you look at this picture, you might think that it's simply an overweight man on a small skateboard in front of a measly crowd, and that it is exactly what it is, but it's hard to deny what he achieved. Say what you want about Rocco - (we say he is a fucking legend), but nobody can deny that he changed skateboarding... for the better. Among plenty of other brands, he founded World, bLind, 101, Plan B, Big Brother and Duffs - easily some of the most inspirational and important skateboard companies of all time - and left a mark on skate history forever. After deliberately making World ridiculously shit with the cartoon characters, everybody thought he had lost his mind, but instead he was a hatching a cunning plan to literally sell out. Soon after, Steve reportedly Souled the World for a shit load of millions (around 29 of them). I truly hope Steve Rocco is happy on an island somewhere doing 360s in diamond shoes, he deserves to be. Thank you for everything, Steve!
Starting out as a Freestyler in England, Don decided that his Godzilla Flips were too big for the UK to handle, so he packed up his long socks and tank tops and did the world's longest Daffy all the way to Huntington Beach. Here he found solace as he Yo-Yo planted amongst the fingerflip fraternity. When Freestyle died a sudden death, instead of packing up his bumbag, he chilled in the sun for a few years then begged his old mate Pierre for a job. Don now runs éS footwear, which in its heyday was a force to be reckoned with and arguably had the best shoe team ever. Much like freestyle, éS died out for a bit, but is now back putting Brown bread on the family table. Personally I hope Freestyle follows suit and makes a comeback as well. We weren't allowed to check his bank balance, but I doubt he's going to starve any time soon.
Sadly, this freestyle success story isn't a scientific rule. Primo Desiderio proves that karma does exist - after inventing the Primo slide, now affectionately known as landing razor - unlike his peers, Primo doesn't run the even the smallest part of the skateboard industry. Instead he plays records for pissed up family members. So, if you're after a wedding DJ hit him up here. Primo and Diane's him & her / husband & wife demos were surely classic enough for you to throw him a few bones if you decide to tie the knot.