The Dan Murray Interview in Coping Block Skateboarding Magazine

                                           Dan Murray flying high above Solid Surf's Peanut Pool                                                                                                          By Cleo Coney

Dan let’s get the geography straight from the start, where exactly are you from and when did you start skateboarding?

I was born in Endicott, New York in 1959. There were sick hills where we lived! That’s where I first touched a skateboard… thanks to my oldest brother. It was 1964 or 65. The classic story… Roller skate cut in half, nailed to a 2 x 4. My brother “Bill”… Yeah that’s right… “Bill Murray”… was 12 years older then I was and he would build them in the garage. I remember one “store bought” board, I don’t remember the make, but it had the word “Surfer” in red script on it. And I remember it being a big deal at 5 or 6 years old just to be able to ride down the driveway standing up. That ended when my brother went off to college in 66. We moved to Boca Raton, Florida in 68’ and I can’t say I touched a skateboard again until late 73. 1974…That’s when I’d say I really started. Clay wheels, Roller Derby board. You would blow through a set of wheels in a week. Then loose ball Urethane came out, then Road Riders… And it took off! You know the story. We moved to Delray Beach in of 77’ but I’ve always lived within a twenty mile radius of Boca. I’ve been living in Coral Springs for the last 15 years. But as far as skate/surf roots go… You could call me a “Boca Brat”.

You are one of a group of south Florida rippers that also includes which skaters?

Well, Boca Raton is situated right between Palm Beach and the Ft.Lauderdale / Hollywood / Miami areas so I got the best of both crews as my compadres. I’d have to start with fellow Boca Brat…Steve Anderson (Sa Brah). We started surfing and skating together in junior high, through high school and beyond… we were on the Kryptonics Team together. From the Palm Beach area: Chris West, Mike Folmer, Chuck Lagana, Pat Love, Scott McCranels and more. From Hollywood/Miami: Alan Gelfand, Robbie Weir, Kevin Peterson, Jeff Duer and Monty Nolder before he went to Gainesville. Mark Lake moved down around 1980.

Florida has produced some of the most innovative skateboarders ever and I include you in that group. Looking at early videos of you skating reveals a smooth and very consistent poetic style, whom were your early skateboarding influences?

The first true influence was a guy that probably no skater outside of the Boca area would know… Kenny Hilton. He was an outstanding surfer and skateboarder with the smoothest style I’ve ever seen. Plus he did it all…Those first Pools, Freestyle, Downhill… A true, “All Around” skater. He was the one who pushed me in the beginning. Chris West and Mike Folmer for their “style for miles”. Pat Love, Chuck Lagana and Monty Nolder for their power. Steve Anderson and Alan Gelfand for their innovations. Jim McCall for freestyle in those early years.

What would you say is the one skate trick you are known for?

Nice Tuck Knee Frontside Airs… Well I’m credited with inventing the Fakie Hang Up and the Disaster. I’ll take full credit for the Fakie Hang Up for sure. And I’ll say that I was the “innovator” of the Disaster… but never it’s“Master”. That title goes to D.P. There’s a long story that goes with that… and there are books coming out next year from both California and Florida that will go into the story… but I don’t know if I’m allowed to say much more about it.
Other tricks? Then… and now… The Shov-it on vert.

What were the earliest skate parks that you were able to skate and where were they?

Solid Surf, Ft. Lauderdale opening day in 76, Skateboard Safari in West Palm Beach and Skateboard USA in Hollywood soon after. A little known short lived park: Skateboard Heaven, Ft. Lauderdale and of course Franks Nasworthy’s Cadillac Wheels Skateboard Concourse in Lighthouse Point. I rode Concrete Wave and IHB pretty early on because of Surf trips. My first trip to Kona came in 78 along with the Basin, Rainbow Wave and Clearwater . Upland… Lakewood… Big O… Cherry Hill…

Which pool, bowl, or ramp was the gnarliest?

Cadillac Wheels Monster Hole was Sick! thirteen feet deep, nine foot tranny and four feet of vert! Smooth but rippled. Large flared up coping with the fence way to close to the edge of the pool. You gotta remember… when we first started riding it we were on seven inch wide, solid wood Logan’s or Fiber Flexes and Tracker Mid Tracks or Bennett’s with Road Riders or loose ball Cadillacs. Just tail dropping the deep end took “huge ones”! Paramount’s sixteen foot bowl in Cal was the only thing crazier. You can’t leave out the Basin’s snake run.

                                               Dan Murray Footplant at the Sensation Basin

You’ve seen the whole cycle of skate parks opening and closing, the rise of back yard ramps, and then the cycle of skate parks opening and closing again. What do you think would be the ideal set of circumstances to keep a park open for multiple generations to enjoy?

A mix of concrete and Team Pain quality Skatelite terrain of every type, street, flow, pool, bowl, vert, a snake run all in one park. Leave me a little area to flatland in. Also having some elements of the park indoors for when it rains… because this is Florida! Lighted for night skating. The best bet is the city built / public owned / local skater supported skate parks. But in these economic times even those are in danger from those who still see skateboarding as a fad… not a sport. California and Oregon have it right. Florida is coming along… Well, except Southeast Florida! At least now we’re starting to get Mayors and officials who were skateboarders back in the day. You can’t beat that if you’re lucky enough to have it! I’d love to see Skateparks as privately owned businesses flourish but skate fees won’t support it. Even if you have the sickest, best terrain, you still need a fully stocked On-line as well as the traditional “Brick and Mortar” pro-shop. You need to have a full presence and coverage on the net, in the magazines and TV and deep enough pockets to last long enough to build a great reputation and history, plus the marketing skills to pull it off.
Skatepark of Tampa and Kona… are the only two in the world I can think of who have stood the test of time.

Who are your skateboarding heroes and why?

Bruce Walker. He has mentored so many great skaters. In 1978 at age 26 they were calling him “The Grandfather of Skateboarding”. 31 years later and he is still skating with flowing style. Still kick-flipping. HELL... we were freestyle demoing at the GFL last month he was pulling Rat Hops on his long board! Mike Rogers… for the Grind For Life… for his courage and grace. He is the hardest working- man in skateboarding today. Mark Lake… He is older then me, He has had major surgeries, and is still killing vert. He gives me hope! Chris Baucom, Kelly Lynn… both still ripping with Style and Power.

What excites you the most about skateboarding today?

The youngest skaters coming up excite me the most. They do it all. They are all around skaters… Not just street… but vert ramps, bowls, pools, parks, ditches… even freestyle. To them it’s all fun to do. The great skate terrain being built all over Florida. Stuff we only dreamed of. Bucky’s Bowl… I think we are seeing the future there.

As a follow up question Dan, what do you think sucks about skateboarding today?

The skaters that are still clinging to division in skateboarding, they seem to take joy in it! Commenting: Oh, Flippy Flappy Street is this… Oh, Vert is Dead that… Dissing a part of the sport they don’t do. Hearing things like S.P.o.T’s vert ramp is going away. I understand the dollars and cents of it. But how is a kid gonna learn vert if he has no access to it. Skateboarding has always gone in cycles. If vert ramps in parks go away… they will just reappear in backyards. It will go underground for a while and reappear in the mainstream some years down the road. The hardcore vert ramp riders will keep it alive. I think Bucky’s Bowl is the start of taking Vert in a new direction. What sucks personally? Getting old and bad injuries as of late. Getting hurt permanently on stupid little falls. Looking at all this great terrain we have today and not being able to ride it the way I used to!

Back in the day how many days a week would you skate?

I never really kept track. I skated when I wanted to. Most of the time it was everyday for 4-5 hours. Working at and skating for Cadillac Wheels helped. And later… Skating for free at Solid Surf didn’t hurt either. When my parent built our house in Delray they had the driveway purposefully poured in jet smooth concrete with a street light over it just for me to skate. Many late nights I would skate out there… alone in my thoughts…freestyling… working out tricks… thinking about lines in the pools and bowls… very calming… relaxing.

When you drive past businesses that used to be skate parks what goes through your mind?

Who told you about that? That’s one of my “things”. I work real near where Skateboard USA was on I-95. I drive past it everyday… it’s a sad and yet… a good feeling… I can’t explain it.I pulled into the parking lot of the Arby’s on Oakland Park Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale and stood where the Solid Surf Peanut Pool was. I swear I could here the old sounds… feel the ghosts of the past… eerie! When I was on the West coast a few trips ago I drove by where Rainbow Wave used to be to show Andrew. The building was still there. I showed him where the halfpipe was… I was sad… and yet it made it me smile from all the memories that came flooding back. Whenever I’m in an area where an old skate park was, I make it a point to try and find the spot, Get out and walk the old course. You need to try it sometime. I can’t explain it. It’s like… coming home. Sensation Basin is big on my “to do” list.

Who were your skate sponsors?

Oh, let’s see… It started with the local surf shop. Nautilus Dive Surf and Ski, then Frank Nasworthy and Cadillac Wheels, Kryptonics and Independent Trucks, then Little/Megatron, Walker for a short time, then Powell Peralta flow, Fox Surf Shop, Boca Surf and Sail… I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. Sorry if I left you out! More recently The G.F.L., Claussen Hearty Garlic Dill Sandwich Slices and Team L.S.D… that’s Love Skating Daily.

Today, are you currently on any skate team or company flow lists?

Mmmmm… kinda Lake Skates and others… but all informally, it’s also good to have a son who rips and has sponsors. And my having old and new friends in the industry in California and Florida, if ever I’m in that bad a shape for gear I can always count on a hook up!

What about food?

Lucky Skate Pickles of course! O.K… Specifically… True L.S.P.s are Claussen Hearty Garlic Dill Slices, Ice Cold out of a cooler. Accept NO others! It all started at the Kona Nationals some five or six years back. 105 degrees in the shade… Everyone was dying. The snack bar was out of ice and cold drinks. They had one pickle left in the jar on the counter and Merrick (Crittenden) beat me to it. I said “Hey man let me have a bite!” I took a bite… He took a bite… The thing was cold, salty and refreshing. Merrick and I looked at each other and that was it! Off to the nearest Publix! Claussens were/are the only pickles refrigerated so we grabbed a few jars of the quarters, iced them and brought them back to the park. The skater pounced on em! 3 jars were gone in 15 minutes. Over time we refined it to the garlic sandwich slices because you get more in the jar to share and they are just the right satisfying size. Plus they are shaped like skateboard decks! Some square tails, some Popsicle, and so on. Some time early on Carlos Galvis made me a Lucky Skate Pickle Tech Deck. It looked so cool that it made me want to make the decks for real. Merrick and I sat at his kitchen table and over a few beers we came up with a design and shape for a deck we liked. Not just a popsicle… but something functional we would want to ride. At that time the Florida Skater OSSS (Old School Skate Board Series) was just firing up as well as the Grind For Life. We wanted to do something to help them out and come out with a cool deck at the same time. We got total support from Paul (Schmitt) and Chuck Hults, Kelly Lynn did the graphics, Paul and Chuck did the boards and Team L.S.D. (Love Skating Daily) and the Lucky Skate Pickle Deck was born. Hackett has one, as does Wentzle, Jay Adams, Conway, Ed Womble, GBM… The list is long and distinguished.

This leads me to the obligatory Burger King question, how were you selected to become the skateboarding Burger King in that classic television commercial?

By 1980 Solid Surf was my home. You could find me there most nights. These guys showed up looking for/casting kids for a Burger King commercial. I was 20 at the time. Not really the cute little kid anymore. But still I made it a point to get in front of these guys every chance I could…. 540s on the bank, kickflips, spinning 360s. Whatever part of the park they went to… I went. Pool, Banks, Bowl, flats… tricking it up, hamming it up. I heard them talking… “Hey we could have a skateboarding Burger King!” long story short, these guys were from the J. Walter Thompson Agency and AFI Films. They cast Robbie Weir and I that night. And the skateboarding Burger King went national for nine months. Cha- Ching!$$$. I bought a brand new Camero with the money, new film and editing equipment… consumer video was still in the dinosaur stages at that time. I helped put a down payment on condo for one of my bothers. I blew through the money pretty quick.

Do you think it’s time for Burger King to update the spot for today’s skateboarders, but utilize you as the historic skateboarding Burger King?

Hell Yes! That new Burger King is freaky looking…scary! But I could see it! It starts with our old commercial… (sings) Skateboarding, Skateboarding… Moving fast, Getting low… then morphs into modem music with Bucky, Andy Mac, etc… or Adam Taylor! Just BLASTING! Along with somebody in the new BK suit just killing it. The spot ends with a final shot of the new king and the old king (me) holding skateboards, side by side, walking off into the sunset… Announcer’s end tag line: It’s Good To Be The King! God knows I could use the money now!

Can you get me some free fries?

If the new commercial happens… You’ll get the fries.(smile)
I have some Ice Cold L.S.P.s just waiting for you!

If you could gather a group of twenty skaters to session with all at once at the skate spot of your choice past or present, whom would you include in that list, and where would the session take place?

Skaters from any era as well?…
Wow! At first I’d have to say Solid Surf Peanut Pool, but then I think about Winchester’s pink pool… or the small kidney down on the end at Cherry Hill and how perfect and fun that was. Cadillac and the Basin where just too burly… No, Yeah, I’d have to say Solid Surf Circa 1981… The whole park. Starting with a great freestyle session to include Tim Scroggs, Rodney, Jim McCall, Joe San Tangelo, Henry Serria, Bobby Little, Kenny Hilton… I know I’m forgetting someone. We break and head over to the Peanut Pool and join in with… Steve Anderson, Mark Lake, Mike McGill, Chris Baucom, Kelly Lynn, GBM, Ed Womble, Pat Love, Mike Folmer, Chuck Lagana, AG, Paul Schmitt, M.R., Chris
Conway… Cal guys like Andy Mac, Steve Caballero… young guys Like Po and Adam Taylor… Yeah Po, I’m calling you young! How many is that? The list is endless! Sorry if I left you out… ummm… Bruce Walker… My son Andrew… see what I mean… endless.
Dan, what’s your opinion of Longboarding, and are you out there cruising on weekends?

It’s not a passion of mine but I like it. I have a Surf One “No Ka Oi” board I like to kick around on. I start out cruising but always quickly tend to try to freestyle with it! It’s a hoot spinning 360s on a 43 inch board!... or slashing frontsides on banks… a very “surf-ish” feel to it. No… lately I’ve been doing quiet, private little freestyle sessions on the “Sugar Boo” (Reverse Freestyle - Lavallee Pro Model). I’ve got to get back to the parks… but there is no good crete south of West Palm. I like watching guys who rip long boards like that “Science” guy… Bruce Walker… GBM, Kelly Lynn and Chuck Dinkin’s at the Bear in New Mexico. Chuck Dinkins! See what I mean about the session list being endless!? Robbie Weir! How could I forget him! You Cleo!.. See what I mean?

Do you think there should be more old man events, for skaters in our age group?

Absolutely! The G.F.L. has always had them and you see a lot more adding them which is a good sign. As the X-Games/Vans/Maloof guys get older, I think you’ll start seeing a Seniors tour/circuit starting up. The G.F.L. needs to add a 50 and up division just so LG and I can duke it out! (laughing)

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but you were inducted into the Florida Skateboarder Hall of Fame I think back in 2005. How did that make you feel and what was going through your mind during your induction?

I’m not worthy… I’m not worthy! Yeah… 2005. For me it’s a huge honor… And I’m humbled because you’re voted in by the current Hall of Famer’s. Only Inducted Hall of Famer’s Vote. And to even be thought of by that crew is an honor! I mean look at the original 16… Folmer, Gelfand, Charley Gonzalez, Hunter Joslin, Lake, Lynn, McCall, Peddie, Plummer, Marty Ramos, Clyde Rodgers, Paul Schmitt, Scroggs, Walker, Wilson, Barry Z…. I kind of look at them as the original Mercury 7. Whoa! Now I’m really showing my age!!! But who WOULDN’T be honored to be thought of as part of that crew!

What has been your family’s opinion of skateboarding over the years? Were they pushing you in the sport?

Yeah… My parents were very supportive. They had the driveway to our house built special just for me to skate. They took me and all that crap up to the U.S. Open at Kona in 78 when I won the AM freestyle. Let me go to Cal that whole summer. I didn’t know it at the time but they helped keep Cadillac Wheels Concourse going as long it did. The plug would have been pulled much sooner if they hadn’t. My first date with my future wife Donna was to the Solid Surf Peanut Pool in 81 so she knew all about my skateboarding going in… Knew I wasn’t going to change… She took me as I was... as I am still. We are a family of skaters. Donna skated some back in the day… and of course my son Andrew.
My daughter skated when she was younger and got quite good really fast. She was a natural but gave it up for her love of Soccer. With Douglas High School she had a National Championship, 3 State Championships and had a college scholarship until she blew her knee out for the second time. And so it goes…

Which skaters do you session with these days and how often do you get to skate?

I work WAYYYYYYY to much and Skate WAYYYYY to little! The first rule of fight club is…
Fight Club on occasion with LG, Robbie Weir, Mark Lake, my son, Bert Parks… The regular Olliewood crew. As stupid as it sounds… but in my current physical/injury state, Olliewood is hard for me these days! Coral Springs… a P.O.S. Modular Park. It does have a nice 6 foot halfpipe (That permanently numbed and mildly disfigured my arm) and a 3.5 mini. A good freestyle area. I’d love to have a nice Oviedo/OSP/ Cocoa type flow area around here… but the closest is an hour away. My backyard mini halfpipe that I got from Paul Patala… It needs a new surface again and I just don’t have the bucks right now to do it… which bites! Anybody want to donate 6 sheets of used skatelite??? I skate with M.R. and the GFL demo team crew whenever they are in the area and I can get to them. Will Cox, Po, Speedy Pete, Kurt T. Merrick… but it’s been a while. The GFL in November was the last time I saw them. It was great fun to Skate with the Beeb’s (Bob Bebe) and Bruce Walker, Andy Mac and Tim Ebuagh! Lately I’ve been doing solo freestyle
sessions over at Mullen’s park on the cooler nights. I have this little circle patch of smooth concrete with a street light. I reminds me a lot of being out in front of the house in Delray under the street light…
I’m pretty permanently beat up physically… and work a lot of hours… So it has really cut down on my skate time. I need to get back to the parks.

Given the choice, would you rather session a ramp or pool?

Yes. That’s like asking me would you like $100 or $1000? The answer is: YES! Given the choice I would pick the pool… But it would have to be the “right” pool. I’d take a smooth grippy ramp over a bad pool any day and vise versa. Now I’m gonna stir up some sh*t… I’m a believer that backyard pools should be skated in backyards… with all their quirks… that’s the fun… I love em. And yet… A skate park pool should be flawless… with shallow ends that the average skater can ride. I mean what would it hurt to put a 4 foot tranny on a 4 foot shallow end? I know I suck, but I’d still love to be able to crave or rockslide over the stairs without scraping my nose. Enough on that… Both kinds are good. They both have their place.

Over the years skaters sometimes develop preferences, such as in skate shoes, wheels, etc, what are yours?

Early on… Logan Earth Ski, Bennett Trucks, Road Rider 4’s and classic low top Vans. Later… an Ollie Tank model or McGill Fighter Jet with Tracker Six Tracks or Indys, Bones Mini Cubes or Rat Bones. Hightop Leather Nikes.
A Cab Mech Dragon step in. Currently a 15” wheelbase Lucky Skate Pickle, with Indy 169s and Bones GFL 60mm wheels, or Conspiracy Alien Shot Greens for the slippery stuff. Half Cabs or Suede Nike 6.0 Hightops.  For freestyle a Reverse Freestyle “Sugar Boo” Indy 126’s and Bones Rippers Bones (always) and Conspiracy wheels… GBM turned me on to those. But I don’t like 101 Rocks. I’ve been an Indy fan since the Krypto Days.  Bearings?... Standard Bones Reds for everyday. For price vs. last you can’t beat em. Given the choice… Bones Super Six Balls. But they don’t last long and cost more then I want to spend.

Dan you’ve put a lot of hours into skateboarding, do you think skateboarding has given you back all that you’ve put into it?

The medical bills…. The pain… (laughs) No…It’s given back HUGE! Way more then I put into it. It bought me a car, It let me travel all over the place, Kept me in shape… well… until recently. The comrade… The great friends… great experiences… the stress relief… the pure FUN it’s given me. Yeah it’s paid back 2 fold.

Any companies or persons that you’ve met over the years that you’d like to thank at this time?

Frank Nasworthy for coming up with urethane wheel and sponsoring me early on. Steve Alba… Alba family, and Don Hoffman of Upland for putting us up that first Cal trip and opening the door to Krypto and Indy. Steve Anderson for getting me ON Kryptonics, Alan Gelfand and Stacy Peralta for hooking me up with Powell flow. Craig Snyder, Fineman, Glen E…Anybody who ever took a photo of me and put it in the magazines.  Paul Schmitt for the Lucky Skate Pickle decks and taking Andrew and I all over Southern California. 15 parks in 5 days plus the DC Ramp!… letting us stay at his house. The Florida Skater website and Steve Marinak, for reconnecting me to my skateboarding family, and Bruce Walker for all the inspiration throughout the years.