[caption id=“” align=“aligncenter” width=“450” caption=“Cab- mute @ Mt. Trashmore Va Beach 85”]
I must preface this post by saying that Steve Caballero has always been one of my favorite riders. He has style to die for; Teflon smoothness. I always regarded him as a second generation vert rider…yet-perhaps- one of skateboardings most influential. Being as I started in the early to mid 1970s, I was influenced by the Logans, Alva & the Dogtowners, Jerry Valdez and a few others. I saw Caballero come on the scene much in the same way many others out there did. I saw him in Action Now magazine & the early Thrasher newspaper-type magazines. I also saw him in the Bones Brigade video show.
I recall my friend Jim Howell (a long time Stevie Cab fan from day one), calling me on the phone one winter day with news that “cannot wait!” He drove to my house in the snow, picked me up, then we grabbed some brews before heading to his place. He had something I needed to see. I remember that it was super raw outside and the wind was whistling through his old sash windows in his room. I could hear the sleet hissing off the glass outside and thought to myself, “Well, no skating tomorrow.” He started the VCR and I was quickly drop jawed. The Bones Brigade video was a threshold moment for us! We saw what was truly possible on a skateboard & when we watched Cabs part at Winchester, we were floored. It was epic. Steve was -literally-only a little taller than his skateboard it seemed! He flowed like water throughout the park, never at odds with himself or the terrain.I was reminded of the Bruce Lee quote…“Water can flow or it can crash. Be like water my friend.”
To this day, I am still in awe of how stylish & natural skateboarding appeared for him at such a young age. Steve has gone on to become ‘icon’ status in skateboarding. His talents in music have led him to record & tour with ‘The Faction’, ‘Odd Man Out’ (my favorite!), ‘Shovelhead’ and ‘Soda’. He has worked with classic cars & motorcyles for years and his canvas painting & artistry is extraordinary. I have skated with Steve a few times and seen him at various skate industry functions and events. He is always approachable & pleasantly humble. I wondered what made a guy like Steve Caballero ‘tick’. Someone so successful in his varied pursuits surely would be interesting to speak with at length. I picked up my laptop & cell phone….
Speaking with Steve on the phone, I soon found that he was a wealth of information & skate history. He started when he was 12 years old. The first skatepark he ever rode was the Concrete Wave in Anaheim, across from Disneyland. “I got in the pool & got tiles my first day.” He told me excitedly. “I was hooked, Ozzie.” I understood completely. Steve informed me that he had built a quarter pipe previously, as he needed something he could, “go up & come back down.” I asked him about pool riding & what started him on that path. “Vert came pretty naturally for me. Stacy & Shogo were in the mags & pools just seemed so much cooler than street or slalom skating. So, I -naturally -moved in that direction.”
Winchester & Campbell skateparks were near his home, so Steve ended up riding both. The fees for the parks were different. Winchester was $2.75 for two hours, whereas Campbell was 30$ a month. His parents figured it was better to pay a dollar a day, so Steve ended up riding Campbell more often. It would be at Campbell, where he developed his vertical skills. Campbell was also more family oriented & had a park team. Winchester really did not. Back then, parks had teams which competed against each other. Steve made the Campbell team after only a year and a half of skating. He said, “I couldnt believe it! My friend Clay Townsend & I rode together. He was really rad. A great skater.”
“Our team won up north & we were invited to Escondido for the park finals contest. I will never forget this. Fats Macintyre of G&S, tried to have us banned from the contest, because we werent from Southern California. I’ll never forget that…ever! Steve Cathey & Stacy Peralta were judging. They let us ride. Clay got 1st & I got 5th place. Stacy approached us after & asked Clay & I to be on his new team, Powell Peralta.” Steve was providing backround information on important skateboarding history. I was eating it up. I digested all he had said, scribbling furiously on a yellow legal pad. My cell phone kept slipping off my shoulder & I fidgeted…sipping tea. I gathered my thoughts and pointed the interview forward again.
Steve continued, “The Powell Peralta team was, Stacy, Ray Bones Rodriquez, Jay Smith & Ray Ritter.” “I had to talk with my parents & gave Stacy my answer a month later at the Winchester contest. Obviously, I told him yes. I was stoked! Clay actually quit a month later. I couldn’t believe it. He was amazing. Scott Foss ended up taking his spot on the team.” I remembered the early photographs of Bones Brigade riders. Jamie Godfrey, Scott Foss, Cab, David Z and others. They were all selected by Stacy & he had an eye for talent…make no mistake. With the Bones Brigade at a contest, one had to stay on & make their runs. If not, it was folly.
Steve & I spoke about stardom & fame within skating. He told me that when he got into skating, he just skated because it was soulful and fun. There was no stardom, really. “I’ve always enjoyed the challenge. Everything I have ever done or received has been because of skateboarding.” “You know something Ozzie? he asked. “A photograph in the mag was one of my main drives back then…not money. Never money.” The day after Winchester closed, Steve built a half pipe in his parents yard. “One of my best buddies– Norman Poon…his dad funded the money for the wood. That’s how we built it. Eventually, Lance & I added two foot of vert in 84-85. Fausto, Thatcher & Mofo came & told me they were doing a magazine. They shot pics & followed us around while we rode ramps, ditches & pools.” I remembered those early Thrasher newspapers. The ink came off on your fingers & the paper was lame. I loved them, regardless.
Skating was dying & Action Now was faltering. Fausto & those guys were starting a more roots-oriented mag called ‘Thrasher’. I am sure that you know the rest. I asked Steve about his development of tricks like the ‘Caballerial’ and the ‘Boneless’, among others. He had a ready answer & quickly told me of something I had already anticipated. “Eddie Elguera. I was totally influenced by Eddie. He was secretive & would ride alone. He trained with Dale Smith & invented tricks, then would show up at a contest with new stuff worked out.” I would see people do things or see pictures and force myself to learn it. I then decided to slide it further or carve it longer. I just kept pushing everything I learned.”
GSD (Gary Scott Davis) did a FS Boneless on a bank & I took it to vert. I then learned the BS Boneless & did it at Joe Lopes Jam. I introduced the Les Twist there as well. It was all a progression.“ I phoned Steve a few times over the next several weeks, clarifying points & making sure the details were correct. We spoke about style. Steve told me that he always felt a skater should try to make tricks look the best they possibly can. “A trick should be as high and as stylish as the rider can push it.”
We spoke of music. He readily told me that he enjoys making & playing music for people. “When we recorded ‘Odd Man Out’, people just expected ‘The Faction’. ‘Odd Man Out’ was heavily influenced by the ‘Cure’, ‘U2’ and ‘The Mission’, which is how I was playing guitar at the time. Hardcore ‘Faction’ fans didn’t care for it. I just wanted to try different things.”
Steve now focuses his attention on painting, Hot Rods, his family & being a good Christian example to others. He found ‘Jesus Christ’ four years ago & has been quite public about his transformation & beliefs. He seems to genuinely have the ‘courage of his convictions’, something that is sorely missing in this day & age. I told him that Hosoi & his public stance on Christianity is a brave & powerful statement. I said this because I know how people love to tear others down & if a skateboarding icon were to tumble from his perch…the fall would be greatly amusing for some & costly overall. “You & Hosoi have made yourself targets for ridicule in some circles.” I stated, matter-of-factly. He waved that away quickly. “My god loves me & I put my faith in him. I don’t worry about what people think. It’s what God thinks that matters to me.” Personally, I think that Steve is a wonderful example of perseverance & style. He is an example of someone that displays rare courage. I admire this above all else. I must thank JGrant Brittain, Jim Goodrich & MRZ for the amazing photographs. You three have been more than gracious. Skate Long-Ozzie