Skaters Who Shaped Us – Gaz Taylor

Rock & Roll / Loughborough / Photo by Ryan Bradley

When I first started skating, there were a handful of older guys in Coventry I saw out and about who commanded the respect of the whole skate scene. People like Jim The Skin and Steve Spain were local legends. I learnt Pivot to Rock & Roll specifically because of Jim The Skin, but pretty much every other trick I learnt on Coventry terrain was me trying to channel Gaz Taylor. Seeing his photo of a Melon grab at Brickies in Sidewalk began my lifelong obsession with skating brick banks. As someone who I looked up to as a teenager, I was super stoked for him to write about who influenced him early in life. 

Melon Grab / Brickies in Coventry / Sidewalk Magazine

I was having a bit of trouble with this, as there wasn’t one skater in particular who I was influenced by: it was just skateboarders in general. 

Me and an old friend – Adam Caversmith – decided to make skateboards out of an old pair of roller skates, and a plank of chipboard one day. It was so much fun that I got hooked. A few months after that I watched Police Academy 4, which was the one with the bones brigade skating in it. I had to get a skateboard the next Christmas, and that was that. 

Soon after that some other friends in my area started skating. We used to skate outside Forum Bowling Alley in Stoke Aldermoor every night after school. We eventually ventured into the City Centre and met lots of other skaters, and that’s when the 80’s Cov scene really kicked off. It seemed to get bigger from then onwards.

The other skateboarders from my area who skated were Gaz Hancock, Zippy, Phil Hunt, Steve Verma, Pete Burns and Spencer Bee. They were all a big influence, we had a great crack. Not only through skating, we got up to all sorts of mischief too. The skaters that we met in the City Centre were Justin Kempbell, Mark Webb, Steve Francis, Martin Orton aka Poisoned Pen, Andy Clare aka Spray Station, Paul Jackson, Matt Prady, Steve Garner and loads of others who appeared and disappeared over the next few years. 

A great crew to skate with, I have so many fun memories of those days. 

Backside Air in a Coventry Backyard

Jim the Skin and Steve Spain were the vert skaters of Cov who sometimes would turn up for a street skate now and again. Jim had a mini ramp and donated it to Coventry boys club who set up a small skate park. I soon became heavily into ramp skating thanks to Jim, he became a massive influence from then on too.

I had a fetish for ollie grabs and boning my board.  When ollie grabs first got popular in the late 80’s, it was trendy to tweak and bone your board as much as possible. I loved to watch people like Natas, Matt Hensley, Ron Allen, Jason Lee,  I remember seeing Alex Moul and Greg Nowik skating in Leamington. They were both doing big melon grabs off a jump ramp, tweaking their boards to one side and boning the nose towards the floor. I was amazed and started trying them, and at first I did them early until I learned to do ollie grabs. From that day onwards I did them for the next 20 years or so. There’s nothing like the feeling of a solid board grab and tweak.

I know that’s not much of a story. I was influenced by pretty much anyone who was into grabbing and boning their board. Sounds a bit perverted, I know! I’d love to skate more these days, but my life is so hectic with work and parenting, the only skating I do now is to keep up with my daughter’s scooter in the park!

Frontside Air / Saffron Walden / Photo by Phil Hunt

2 thoughts on “Skaters Who Shaped Us – Gaz Taylor

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  1. A true Gent is Gaz! He always ripped it up hard when he came to Radlands most Wednesdays back in t’day! Don’t know if I’ve noticed before but he’s got a Radlands Tee on in his Sidewalk New Blood Photo. Proper styling!


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