Skate Culture

Denny Riordon The Ultimate Skate Pioneer Of The 70s And 80s

Denny Riordon: A skating pioneer and legend

Denny Riordon was an East Coast pro-skater who skated freestyle, ditches, pools and pretty much whatever else he could find to skate.

He saw action in both the 70s and 80s eras of skating, skating against and with the likes of Stacy Peralta, Lester Kasai and Rodney Mullen.

Denny Riordon Skate History

Denny Riordon started skating in 1974 at Ocean City Beach while on a senior week trip at school.

In the early 70s, when he first started skating, boards were super skinny, and it was before the time of sealed bearings and kick tails, so he was limited to carving and S turns in his first year of skating.

As a pioneer in early skate style, he started riding steeper ramps in 1975, beginning with the Pot Springs Ditch.

Denny Riordon Sponsorship

Although Denny Riordon was one of the first skaters sponsored in the 1970s, people didn’t really start hearing about Denny Riordon until the 1980s.

He first started touring with the Pepsi Team in the late 1970s – 1977 to 1979, to be precise. He originally had a sponsorship with brands such as Megatron Trucks, Vans and 360 Sportswear.

In the early 1980s, all skating sponsorship deals and competitions evaporated  as a result of a global economic downturn.

But Denny Riordon continued skating for the love of it and went on to become the first skater to represent Billabong in the 1980s.

Denny Riordon Skateboards

Early on in my skateboarding life, I fell in love with the Denny Riordon “People in My Head” graphic as advertised in TWS in 1988.

I still consider it one of the great bits of skate art, though — regrettably — I have no idea who actually did the graphic. Here was the ad in question:

Denny Riordon People in My Head Skateboard
Denny Riordon: People in My Head Skateboard

Denny’s original skateboard pro-sponsor was Kryptonics and later Toxic.

Whenever this deck comes up on collector forums, the response is always the same: there is a strong positive response to the deck art as a strong bit of skate art very indicative of the 1980s period.

Denny Riordon’s deck came in both a full-sized street model and a smaller freestyle model.

Here are a few variants of the Riordon “People in my head” model, coming from both Kryptonics and Toxic:

Denny Riordon People in My Head Skate Art

A Denny Riordon Interview

I recently came across a great interview with Denny. Here is an excerpt:

So what other things were there to skate? You mentioned backyard pools. Were there any because I never had any when I was growing up?

Well there were a couple of things that happened. 

There was always two weeks in the spring time when the pools would get drained for cleaning. 

Like Town and Country pool on Cranbrook Road, we would go in there and dry it out and make sure it was good. 

We’d ride those pools for two weeks straight. We’d go from one community pool to the next. 

It got to the point where sometimes there would be 30 guys in there in the shallow end and cops would come and we’d all scatter. 

Twenty minutes later, we’d all be back. 

Another one of our not so smart ideas, that we did anyway, was we would look for newspapers piled up in front of houses and if they had a pool and we’d drain it.


We had a pump system and we would literally drain pools and skate them until the people came home.

That was pretty much what was going on, it was the whole Dogtown thing. We were doing the same thing, just on the other coast.

To read the entire article, see: Going Home Again: A Journal of (Re)Skateboarding.

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