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Jay Adams skating in an empty swimming pool in the mid-1970sGlen E. Friedman

Skateboarding pioneer Jay Adams dies aged 53

One of the original Lords of Dogtown has passed away of a heart attack

Legendary skateboarder Jay Adams died on Friday after suffering a heart attack while on a holiday in Mexico. The skate icon, who featured in the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys and was portrayed by Emile Hirsch in Lords of Dogtown, was 53 years old.

Adams was one of the original members of the Z-Boys skate team from the Dogtown neighbourhood in Santa Monica, California. With surfing-inspired moves and an aggressive, low-slung riding style, the Z-Boys – and Adams especially – pioneered the basis for modern skateboarding back in the 70s. It's not for nothing that Adams is known among skateboarders as the Original Seed. 

"The news is and was devastating," wrote fellow Z-Boy and film director Stacy Peralta in Thrasher. "Jay was the essence of skateboarding, 100% inside and outside, as pure a form of skateboarding as we may ever see. He was skateboarding incarnate."

In 2001, Peralta approached Adams to appear in his documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, which chronicled the rise of Z-Boys and skate culture. In the process, a whole new generation of skate fans was reintroduced to Adams, skateboarding's wild man. Peralta then cast Emile Hirsch as Adams in his 2005 feature film adaptation, Lords of Dogtown. 

On Friday, Hirsch tweeted that Adams was a "legend who will be missed":

Adams's influence stretched far beyond the skating and surf world; designers such as Martine Rose and Hood By Air collaborator Virgil Abloh have cited Adams as an inspiration in their collections. "He has the most natural ability and the best style... I found him so completely unaware of his beauty and talent," Rose told Dazed in a 2011 interview.

One of those who witnessed Adams' surfing brilliance first hand was photographer Glen E. Friedman, who snuck into empty swimming pools and parties with the Z-Boys to document now-iconic pictures of the 70s scene.

"For so many, Adams was the inspiration, he was the seed," he wrote on his blog. "He was one of the originators, and he didn't do any of it on purpose. He was as spontaneous as they come, and because of that he was one of the sport's great revolutionaries."

Watch the trailer for Dogtown and Z-Boys below: