Bones Brigade: the most successful skateboarding team of all time | Illustration: SurferToday

The Bones Brigade was a world-class skateboarding team created in 1979 by Stacy Peralta and George Powell.

The founders of Powell Peralta wanted a crew of outstanding competitive skaters who could boost their company's growth.

The Bones Brigade were the best in their disciplines - vert, bowl, freestyle, and street - and ruled skateboarding for over a decade.

Moreover, they revolutionized the sport with new tricks and maneuvers and pioneered how to make money in skateboarding.

The skate collective comprised teenagers who eventually got worshipped and changed many kids' lives.

Stacy Peralta was the glue that held the team together for a long time.

The skater entrepreneur, who had been in the Zephyr Competition Team (Z-Boys), believed skateboarding could be a professional activity.

But Peralta had to convince his product manager partner that a sports team would raise awareness for their business and products.

Once he had the green light, Stacy started picking amateurs he knew he could develop instead of stealing someone else's athletes.

The Bones Brigade: featuring Rodney Mullen, Mike McGill, Tommy Guerrero, Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, and Lance Mountain | Photo: Bones Brigade Archive

Bones Brigade: A Stellar Skate Team

So, the early members were young and unknown riders aged 11-15.

Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen, Lance Mountain, Tommy Guerrero, Alan Gelfand, and Mike McGill were some of the early skaters riding for Bones Brigade.

They lived in different cities and states, so when there were contests, these talented teenagers would fly to California, and Peralta would drive them to state competitions.

Stacy was the manager, father, coach, and fan of the Bones Brigade. He would help the team design winning strategies and plan their runs.

Soon, the amateur crew was winning trophies and challenging the pros.

Peralta needed a name for his collective, but he neither wanted the word "team" nor "skateboarding" in it.

And that's when the creative genius and marketing mastermind Craig Stecyk III fires the expression "Bones Brigade."

Stecyk was a key figure in Powell Peralta's business growth, and he soon became famous for never putting a skateboarding picture in an ad.

Craig believed action pictures, decks, trucks, and wheels were already displayed in skateboard magazines.

Therefore, the brand should only show suggestive ideas and images.

In 1982, the skateboard mania was going down the drain, skateparks were closing, and the industry was collapsing.

Local skate ramps started popping; contests were held all over the country, some in private properties and backyards.

And so the indie grassroots movement started growing the sport again.

The Bones Brigade included the following members:

  • Alan Gelfand
  • Andy Macdonald
  • Brandon Novak
  • Bucky Lasek
  • Cameron Martin
  • Chris Senn
  • Colin McKay
  • Danny Way
  • Frankie Hill
  • Guy Mariano
  • Jami Godfrey
  • Jason Ellis
  • Jim Thiebaud
  • Kevin Harris
  • Lance Mountain
  • Mike McGill
  • Mike Vallely
  • Nicky Guerrero
  • Per Welinder
  • Ray "Bones" Rodriguez
  • Ray Barbee
  • Ray Underhill
  • Rodney Mullen
  • Steve Caballero
  • Steve Rocco
  • Steve Saiz
  • Steve Steadham
  • Tommy Guerrero
  • Tony Hawk

Powell Peralta's Tony Hawk ad, 1986: Craig Stecyk III always saw things from a different angle | Photo: Bones Brigade Archive

The Video Series

Simultaneously, in 1982, the Bones Brigade started producing a series of successful skateboard videos that have become iconic representations of skate culture.

"The Bones Brigade Video Show" (1984) was a huge hit. It sold 30,000 copies and became a cult collection of action shots.

"Future Primitive" (1985) paved the way to street skateboarding thanks to Rodney Mullen's ollie-influenced trick revolution.

"The Search for Animal Chin" (1987) raised the skaters' profiles beyond their wildest dreams, and suddenly, the Bones Brigade were worldwide rock stars.

As a result, Powell Peralta took off, and board production soared. By the end of the 1980s, the company was doing close to $30 million a year.

Eventually, as the first generation of skaters got older and into their 20s, each member moved on to become a professional skater.

George Powell and Stacy also parted ways - they had different visions for the brand.

Peralta left the company he co-founded in 1991 but eventually returned for the brand's second life.

The Bones Brigade was a team in the best meaning of the word.

They supported each other in contests and felt good making Stacy Peralta happy. But above all, they had fun competing and pushing the sport forward.

In 2012, Stacy Peralta shot "Bones Brigade: An Autobiography."

The Bones Brigade filmography includes the following VCR videos:

  • "The Bones Brigade Video Show" (1984)
  • "Future Primitive" (1985)
  • "The Search for Animal Chin" (1987)
  • "Public Domain" (1988)
  • "Axe Rated" (1988)
  • "Ban This" (1989)
  • "Propaganda" (1990)
  • "Eight" (1991)
  • "Celebrity Tropical Fish" (1991)

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