Tom Morey: a fascinating character, a universal thinker, an extraordinary musician, and a relentless inventor | Video Still: Wybenga

Tom Morey is more than just the inventor of the bodyboard and bodyboarding. He's a fascinating character, a universal thinker, an extraordinary musician, and a relentless inventor. Let's hear what he has to say about sports, and life in general.

His words and his thoughts are part of American history. Tom Morey was born in Detroit on the 15th August 1935. Tom Morey started surfing shallow two-foot waves on his dad's back in 1947 at Main Beach, in Laguna Beach, California. With time, he progressed to bodysurfing.

When he was ten years old, he spent three months in bed recovering from rheumatic fever. He had the chance to relax, hear a lot of music, and conversations on the radio. But he also practiced and improved his drum skills.

He learned to play Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" featuring Gene Krupa, and became interested in making music, and composing songs. Like "The Boogie Song."

Tom Morey (drums): playing with Lin Halliday and friends, circa 1955 | Photo: Tom Morey

By the time he was 13, he was one of the hottest wave riders in Laguna Beach. A few years later, Tom worked at the Disneyland, but he often skipped it to go surfing.

In his adult years, he graduated in Mathematics, worked for Douglas Aircraft, founded Morey Boogie, and continued glued to the surfing world. Tom doesn't like the word "legacy," but he knows and appreciates all the love he gets from fans from all corners of the planet.

A day with Tom Morey is better than reading a book. We've gathered some his best quotes, ideas, and thoughts. Take it away, Thomas Hugh Morey:


I don't smoke. I don't drink. I don't do any drugs. I don't even do Aspirin.

The world is set up today to sell people stuff. And boy, do we buy and are we suckers.

I've had a more vivid imagination than many people, perhaps. Because it is not diluted with too many things.

When I'm in my dream stage, I can stop and look, and see people - some that I know, many who I'd like to know, some who are still living, and many who have passed away. One of the guys I see quite often is Miki Dora.

Hobie [Alter] and I were not what you call friends. I was younger than him, and I could work with him, but he didn't want me to work with him. But later on, we became good friends. We dated the same girls.

You've gained a great deal of understanding and capability. Anybody that's a day or week older than you, pick their brains, get their information, and copy their moves. I cannot overestimate the importance of just copying. You're not original; I'm not original - nobody is. So, we are all interrelated.

Copy immediately. Don't be the last guy to pick up on something that's good, thinking that you don't want to be a copycat. That was what they called us when I was young. It intimidated me for a while, but then I learned that is what I am - a copy of other things.

I am a naturally gifted human with an unbelievable package.

You don't need to have a whole bunch of stuff. The commercial situation in the world is teaching us to buy and fix ourselves a lot - to have the car, to own a house.

The best day with your new car is the day before you buy it. You're in the showroom, it smells great, and you're thinking about it. But as soon as you drive off the showroom, the price is cut in half, and you've got to maintain it. Everything you own, you maintain. And it's enough you've got a body to maintain.

Ideas are revelations, and they come in order.

Organic is good. But you have to remember that really good vegetables and things are brought to your specialty markets - how do they get there? They're flown there, but what do those pilots drink, smoke and eat?

I've been taught that beauty is skin deep. That is a false teaching. Beauty is what you are.

Gerry Lopez' handwriting - you got to take a look at that. That tells you who he is. Why he can surf Pipe as well as he does. Just read anything that he has written in hand.

I wanted to play the trumpet. But my musical instructor said to me: "Sorry, your lips are too thick."

There is Satan. But it's not some cliched thing with a tail and pointed ears. It is the IRS, the documents, and contracts.

The idea of the patent is good but lost its validity.

I am neither white, black, red, brown, American nor Russian at heart. I Tom Morey, I am a surfer, first and foremost! How about you?

The term "bodyboarder" sucks.

I helped revolutionize life on this planet. Gave billions of hours of pleasure to millions of people.

If you want something to surf, then figure out how to make it yourself. That's the real kick. Riding what you created.

I have zero interest in beauty contests, showoffs, tricks, kids reducing their opinions of tricks to what other kids did, showing off for some number on a score sheet.

The best surfer I ever knew, no one would ever have heard of him, today. Nor do I remember his name.

Before dropping in - whether into simple beach break, business or marriage - plan for its end as well.

I don't see any difference between bodyboarding and surfing - it's all surfing.

You don't get to feel the contour of the ocean until you get on a boogie board.

Boogie is a good feeling. When people say it, when they say that word, they loosen up; it’s nice. The promise of this thing is that you get to boogie. Just saying "boogie" is fun.

I have been fortunate to be part of something that was destined to happen.

Go slowly. Don't make a display of yourself because at all ages - and especially at younger ages - you're dumb and incompetent, and awkward. I am dumb and incompetent, and awkward - the same with you.

Handle every situation like it's a wave. A wave is an opportunity - you figure out where the good ones are, you take off, you ride for a certain period of time, and then you pull out. You do not ride the wave to the very end because it dumps on the damn rocks. So you pick and choose your waves carefully, and when to get in and get off, and how long to stay, and what to do. It's all a progression from birth till death.

I didn't shape. I am a designer. I only shaped three surfboards in my life. But I found guys who could shape, and I knew what I wanted. So, that's how I worked. Well, alright, I may have shaped ten boards.


Are you a Tom Morey fan? Discover his 10 Commandments of Surfing.

A beautiful chaos, the ultimate surfing wave, a freak of nature, the advanced surfer's testing ground, a specialty wave, the premier tube riding arena, and, ultimately, the Mecca of surfing.

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