London Calling: A Whole Era Showed Up

Steve Douglas Breathes London Calling!

Jeff Greenwood asks Steve Douglas some insider info about the upcoming London Calling Show opening up at the Skateboarding Hall of Fame on May31. Opening night will also include a new Movie Premiere London Calling: A Whole Era Showed Up! Read all about it below and plan on a Hall of Fame Double Header later this month!

London Calling! Exhibition is coming to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame May 31, 2024
London Calling! Exhibition is coming to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame May 31, 2024

First question is, how large is the collection coming to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame?
Oh, you know it’s funny. I just had a conversation with Todd (Huber) yesterday based on the space that we had. I thought we’d only be able to take a third of it or maybe even a quarter. So Todd was like, no no no, I want to have it all. He did a FaceTime and took me around the room like how you could use this area and this area and that area. So, I think we’re going to be able to bring pretty much all of it over!

We were going down a rabbit hole of editing (the exhibit). We do want to edit it a little bit. We were going to have to basically slash it, which we didn’t want to do. Now I think we’re going to be pretty good. I think it will be exactly how we want to have it.

The great thing is that we’re bringing the best parts over and that’s what I’m excited about. We’ve got to be careful on budgets because we have spent a lot of money on the first one. Bringing over the second one costs money, and now we’ve got to bring people over.

One thing you can help me do is to raise money for Marc Sinclair we have a GoFundMe. We’ve already bought his ticket and some of the hotels and stuff like that, but we still got to get some of the other guys that were a big part of it over here to the US. No one got paid for London Calling in the last one. With this one we need to try and help out some of the guys that put so much time and energy into this to make it to the event.

You know, at first it was going to be only 25% of the exhibit. It’s now going to be, I’d say 90% of what we showed!

Who were all of the contributors that made up the collection, or the main ones, or even some of the little guys?

London Calling was basically myself, Bod Boyle, Don Brown, Dan Adams that runs the Read and Destroy Archive (RAD Magazine), Neil Macdonald, from Science Versus Life Instagram is a great guy. I mean this guy is like a real truest story. And what’s amazing about Neil Is that I always say that skateboarding started, when you started skateboarding, right? It’s like before that you’ve got no interest but when you start a skateboarding when you felt that love in it from now onwards, it was what it is, right? You just love it.

London Calling: A Whole Era Showed Up
London Calling: A Whole Era Showed Up

Very few people, I’ve found, really look back. But Neil started in 87 and his passion and desire to learn about 70s was incredible. I mean, I’ve never actually seen someone quite like that. He did the zine that you’ll see at London Calling, He did 95 percent of the interviews in about four weeks, and those are just snippets of the interviews that he actually did. He would call me up and be like “oh my God, I just did an interview with Jules Gayton. I could do a book just on Jules!”. Then he called me up, like, no way, I’ve got one on Simon Napper, you know, who invented the Napper snapper, which is the modern-day disaster, I could do a book on him too. I was really super excited about Neil. I think is a national treasure. He’s actually making a book of his own right now, it’s out October 25 called Elsewhere: the story Of UK skateboarding, 1987-2002

Then we got Winstan Whitter. When I was over there (London) I said, “Hey listen, I just got to say thank you, man. You know, everyone’s gone above and beyond but you really stepped up and gone above and beyond.” He’s like, ‘No Steve, Thank You!’ He goes, you gave me a 411VM camera all those years ago and trusted me with it. And you know, me filming for you as a young kid, I now have a career making videos.

London Calling Forum Re-Edit by Winstan Whitter

When you see this forum (above), you know, the most important thing was to get the right bums on the seats, right? It wasn’t just about filling the place it was about getting the guys from the 70s and the guys in the 80s saying thank you. There’s a great part when you see it of Sean Goff giving thanks, he’s getting quite emotional as I am with this conversation of what these guys meant to us. So it’s it was a labor of love, but probably one of the most important things that I felt like I personally had to do in my life.

Of course I’m extremely excited that there was such a positive reaction from the Americans that were there like Steve Van Doren and T.A. (Tony Alva). Then also coming back and hear it from people, like yourself, that heard about it, that followed it. Stacy contacted Steve Van Doren and said, ‘hey, thank you for supporting that’.

Yogi! Yogi was a guy I went to school within the UK that ended up running all the éS campaign and the brand Pop War. He came over and really helped do all the exhibit framing, he was so helpful.

And then we had guys, like Rob Ashby who, who lent there 70’s collection. Then of course Jurgen Blümlein that did Made for Skate from the Skateboard Museum. He works at speed and is so passionate. He really, really helped us out a lot in the setup of London Calling.

Adrian Winks had a big Benji collection he shared.

Paul Paul Coupe had a huge collection and he passed like two days after the event came down, which was really sad because he was there the last day with his dog. There’s great pictures, a lovely guy. The only good thing about it is, is that we actually did videotape him and his collection and showed his passion for skateboarding.

So, it was a group effort. Everybody came together!

For me it was about giving thanks to these 70’s guys that had given me this amazing life in America, right? And if it wasn’t for these guys, inspiring me as a young man, I wouldn’t have come over to America. So for me I looked at it as this is my personal life. Marc Sinclair, with the famous fakie ollie at Marina, made me think, oh, it’s an English guy from London in California. I could be an Englishman in California doing a fake ollie! It’s very inspiring! I have to say thank you to these guys. You know, I’ve got two great kids or a lovely wife, a great life in this great country. If it wasn’t for these guys I probably wouldn’t be here.

What’s the most talked about item of the collection? In your opinion. Like what’s getting people talking?

Unfortunately, when they look at the items, there’s certain things that are not going to be there because we had these two light tables that had a lot of things underneath it. That was going to be very hard to bring over. I mean, these are guys personal collections that they had on display.

Personal artifacts that came from Ben Howard, who was the owner of Benji Boards. He had this Benji Board ring and some of the Benji Board riders had said, oh my goodness, I didn’t even know that existed! I heard rumors about it and here he had this ring.

So there were little things like that. We also had these little black badges. There was this skatepark called Skate City where you had a red badge or blue badge, and a black badge. Black badge, being the highest badge. So what we did is we made these black badges that said London Calling and what that meant was that, if you wore that you’re a person of interest. You had a photo, or an interview, or you were a photographer, or something like that. So those were sought after.

One of photos (Marc Sinclair?) was one of the key things that we got, that was not in the Skateboarder interview. So me and Bod (Boyle) track down James Cassimus. We were outside James Cassimus’ office down in San Clemente and we were like two little kids. James is a gentleman, he brought out these old slides and I could hardly speak.

I was like, James, uh..stuttering.., when would these last photos last seen? He’s like September ‘79. It was just fucking incredible, feeling like I was going in a time warp and seeing all these photos I’ve never been seen before.

One of our big concerns was people that didn’t have a photo or anything else. So we tried very hard to make it as wide as we possibly could. There were people calling me up and going ‘well, is it just going to be London?’ I’m like, ‘hey, look, just imagine it is only London and then be pleasantly surprised’. Realize we can only show what we have. If there weren’t photos from Liverpool, or they weren’t photos from Scotland and we don’t have them, and there weren’t, then how could we use them.

So we tried really hard to do a wide variety. It wasn’t just skateboarding in London and Brighton. But those were the two major Powerhouses and that’s where the photographers were and the magazines were so the majority of the photos are from there.

And another thing we tried to do, which might have ruffled some feathers maybe, is I was trying to push the fact of how advance the UK was, right?

There was a great back and forth between me and Dan Adams. There’s a photo in the exhibit of guy called Robbie Hunter, who was a personal major influence. That was maybe the biggest name. He was one of those skateboarders that every region has. Me to Dan: “no, you’re looking at that wrong. This is the guy, Robbie Hunter, but he’s doing an ollie lay back”. And it was one and the most technical tricks in the exhibit. Dans like ‘yeah, but the quality is not that great’. And I’m like, ‘Dan it’s going in buddy. If we have to make it small it’s going in but it’s got to go in because there’s maybe only Jeff Moore doing a ollie lay back around that time. (I could be completely wrong on that. )

I wanted to show the level of skateboarding, so a lot of the photos in it are from 79 because skateboarding was progressing so much. We didn’t want to show 30 or 40 photos of a front side grind. I might like people be impressed by the level of skateboarding that was going on around that time. Andrecht’s being done, Fronstside invert’s being done, front side rock and rolls being done, etc. etc. There’s some amazing photos of front side ollie’s and you’ve got to remember when Alan (Gelfand) did the front side ollie by the time he got out the magazines, and the time it took to the UK was a long time! And then we’ve got a photo of people doing frontside ollies in 1979.

So that’s what we were trying to do. We made London Calling for the 80’s guys to give respect to the 70s guys!

When I got back to the California I was lucky enough to be invited to the NHS 50th celebration and I bumped into one of my old riders for Underworld Element, Julian Stranger, and he was at London Calling and I didn’t even know it. It was that busy. But I heard he was there. He came up and said he how stoked he was, I asked him to do a quote:

“So Jeremy wasn’t just spinning yarns for the last 30 years??…  my mind was blown! the character and quality of the photos, the skating, the spots, what a story they tell!   and the clear love and admiration that went into putting all of this together to give a proper glimpse into the 70’s UK skate scene.  I can’t thank everyone involved enough for sharing this with the skate world.  Maybe you thought only great music came out of England during the Thatcher era, but there was skateboarding, right in the thick of it as well. L.S.D. LIVES” –  Julien Stranger

Incredible! he saw what we were trying to do and that made us all involved with London Calling extremely proud. Now we will be able to share it with many more!

I definitely found a lot more respect for people that have done these exhibits because what goes into them is a lot. There’s a lot of vigorous debates about what should go in and what shouldn’t go in and then you’re trying to make everybody happy, which you can’t do!

We all hope you can make Friday May the 31st to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame to watch the documentary and hopefully enjoy what was going on other other side of the pond, there were some rippers and now SHOF has 3 of them inducted, hopefully more to come from the 70’s  John Sablosky, Simon Napper, Jules Gayton, Kadir Guirey and Neil Harding to name a few, all have great photos and wait till see you see the video of Kadir skating on London bridge its beautiful.

1970’s London Skateboarding