Friday, February 26, 2010

Bob "The Bullet" Biniak
original Z-Boy
Bad Ass Mother Fucker

Bob Biniak was someone I've known since I was probably twelve years old. You can read in my DogTown book how we first met--it would not be appropriate to include it here. But as his wife said in her note to some of his personal friends thursday afternoon: "Bobby loves Life and lived more in his short life than many us of can ever imagine to do." From what I knew of Bob I can attest to this not being an exaggeration or a cliché.

Back in DogTown's heyday Biniak was known as one of the toughest, hardest skating dudes out there. Few could match his skills skating the infamous pipes out in Arizona or on the vertical flat wall of Mt. Baldy. In pool skating he was a clear innovator as witnessed by my lens, and Craig Stecyk's even earlier when he was interviewed in SkateBoarder magazine's first ever "Pool Riding Symposium." Bob early on received the coveted "Who's Hot" bio, and later, only for the most respected riders, a full length interview in SkateBoarder. He was also voted as one of the top ten Skateboarders of the year in SkateBoarder magazine's first annual poll held in 1977.

In my personal experience he was far and away the toughest guy on the original Zephyr skateboard team. Bob drove a "Beemer" way before most of his comrades even had cars, or were rock-starring out. He led a life that early-on, spanned everything from rumored, sinister behaviors to a career in professional golf, while the rest of us were still just acting like kids. Bob waited for no one and was the ruler of every situation I ever saw him in. He leaves behind many friends and family including his wife Charlene and daughter Brie (now 5 years old). He suffered a massive cardiac arrest on Sunday and passed away Thursday at 12:51pm EST in Florida. He will be missed.

Here are a few more classic photos from my archive taken by Craig Stecyk that were included in our DOGTOWN - The Legend of The Z-Boys book, and my color shot of BB at the Dog Bowl that was the last page in his 1977 SkateBoarder Magazine interview, and in my book Fuck You Heroes.

Just found this great photo
shot by the late Warren Bolster.

UPDATE: New blog started by the family & friends: Biniak Bulletins

and from ABC NEWS "This Week" :


  1. I had an opportunity to speak with him last year. A really nice guy - perhaps time had mellowed him out a little. But he had a great sense of humor and an edge...

    M. Brooke

  2. I am in total disbelief. Earlier this week, Skip told me that Bob had a heart attack and that he was in a coma. I thought to myself that many people have had MI's and have managed to overcome it with a procedure and a life-style change. Then this a.m. I heard second hand that Jeff Ho said that Bob died. I logged onto this site and am so bummed. Bob was my Malibu surfing bud before he bailed back east. I saw him at the Venice Skatepark dedication and got a bro-hug from my pal. And now he's gone? Polar Bear, Baby Paul, and now Bob. His smile will be indelibly etched onto my tabula rasa as I will never forget Bob Biniak.

  3. Wow so young RIP Biniak. Legend forever!

    I grew up reading Skateboarder magazine in the 70s and 80's and I always cherish the memories of seeing photos of Bob's skating. I still have copies of those magazines too and look at them frequently. We will never forget you.

  4. Wow. What a shock it was to hear about this. I never met Bob, but his interview (along with your photos, Glen) was in one of the first SkateBoarder mags I ever saw. Those words and photos helped form my opinion of what radical skating was all about. And since then, whenever I've heard or seen his name mentioned, it has always been with great respect.

    My deepest sympathies go out to Bob's wife and daughter, and to everyone who knew him and was close to him. RIP, Bob...

  5. Hi Glen, I came across this on Boing. You probably don't remember me - we were actually in the same class at Revere.

    I skated with Steve Olpin, Jeff Patterson, and the 'Sades original crew.

    I was saddened to hear of Biniak's passing, even though I never knew him personally.

    Even more, I was shocked to learn about Paul Cullen, who I remember blowing us all away on the day Stacey brought him to Olpins' concrete halfpipe in the fall of 1979.

    We are all getting to the point where life catches up with us. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all the great photography over the years, and especially for catching so many of the great first gen of radical skaters for posterity. Biniak and Cullen will live forever in your photos, and we are all thankful for that.

    Charles "Chuck" McClelland

  6. My Heart goes out to his wife Char and thier daughter Brie, Friends,and many Fans!We dated briefly when we were teenagers,I loved to watch him Skate he was aggresive and determined,he will always be a Legend. He was very funny to be around he would come out and say thinks that we thought to say but would'nt. Bob will always remain in our Hearts and Memories. May Bob Rest In Peace,sleep with the Angels my dear friend. With Respect and Love~Anita(Romo)Molina

  7. Chris Cahill is very Sick at present,he is in need of a Liver Transplant within one years time or it will be Fatal. Please everyone keep Chris in our Prayers and send positve thoughts his way,so he will find a donor soon~Lets Pray for our Zboy~Much Respect and Love~Anita(Romo)Molina

  8. Thanks for a nice tribute to our old friend and fellow Dogtowner. I will miss him. I always remember him being forceful and unaffraid and so full of fun. Jeff Ho and and his girlfriend Babette will be hosting a sunset memorial at the Venice Skatepark this evening.
    I hadn't seen Bob since 2005, but saw his wife and baby down at the beach a while back. They were a nice couple. I spent a lot of time with him and Char on the sets and the making of Lords Of Dogtown in 2004. Everytime Bob showed up with a cocktail in hand, we knew we would get some comic relief.
    The kids on the set adored him and I remember one day on the at Marina Del Rey set, many of us were standing around in the parking lot talking, (including Heath Ledger, Paul Constanineau, Steve Olson, etc.) laughing and skating and he walked up and says a boisterous hello. We all watched the actor Johnny Knoxville pass in front of us wearing the most rediculous looking disco suit imaginable with grommets at the pant legs and arms. There was a pregnant pause and then Bob blurted out "What does he think this is? The Starwood?" Many of us knew what he meant and burst out laughing! The Starwood was a place many of us frequented in the 70s for disco dancing and concerts on Sunset Blvd.
    He was also gracious enough to stick up for me when one of the Lords co producers enjoyed harassing me. Many of us were invited to the Ritz in Pasadena down the street from the psuedo Dogbowl set. Catherine Hardwicke invited the Z Boys, some of the cast and crew for a complimentary drink after filming wrapped. I was taking photo's of eveyone there and Kareem decided to keep whispering to me that he didn't want me there and "to move out of the way". Bob saw and heard what was going on and told him "She's okay right where she is!" Rest in peace my friend.

  9. Gonna wite about this for my blog at any pics of him or othr stuff please send my way.

  10. I'm feeling sad! We were just local kids on the beach living life, while others were reading, and dreaming the life. I'm just a local girl. R.I.P Bobby. May God bless you, and keep you until than.

  11. At the time we were invincible. R.I.P Bob
    Blake MacIntosh
    Mandeville cyn

  12. Saw Bob skate twice when we went down to SoCal to hit all the parks when I was a kid in 77. He was the most aggressive skater I had ever seen. What an absolute bummer. He left no stone unturned in his 51 years. RIP bruddah

  13. RIP Bob. I still recall one afternoon in '77 or '78 in Reseda, having another after-school session in our local pool when we were paid a visit by Jay Adams, Bob and a couple other legends who must have heard of our place via a grapevine; good memories all. Reading these tributes to Bob brings it back like it was yesterday. Thanks for being such an inspiration, and condolences to your beautiful family.

  14. Glen,

    I don't know why news of Bob's untimely passing is just hitting the National news just now, but it got me here to your eulogy so it's all good.

    I came out to Cali in 1976 to go to college in Pasadena, so I guess that made me a pseudo-Val. Nevertheless, once school was out for the summer in 1977 and 1978 I religiously went down to Ocean Park beach nearly every day.

    During that time I made a casual acquaintance with Jim Muir (who seemed like a super nice guy) and I remember reading "Skateboarder" (including your absolutely iconic photographs) and being in awe of all the Dogtown boyz (my own brief flirtations with skating empty pools left me with a few bruises and the realization that verticals and coping grinds were best left to Professionals).

    While Tony was my favorite and I liked Jim I felt a kinship with Biniak because we were similar tow-headed blondes (and, perhaps not surprisingly, I look pretty similar to his recent photos nowadays as well). He was a tougher SOB than I ever was, but I admired him nevertheless.

    I am also 51 and had my own episode with a MI 9 years ago. Luckily with medication and elimination of vices I've managed to hang in there ever since, but with my Dad and most of my uncles felled by heart attacks I often think in my case that it's not a matter of if, it's when. So when my peers like Bob Biniak are taken from us suddenly it's a real shock and a reminder that life is short and can be taken away from us at any moment.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Biniak.

  15. A man wears many hats throughout his his lifetime. What makes this so sad, is the most important hat (Fatherhood) is the one he did not get to wear long enough...


  16. My father used to party with Bob's two older sister and told me a story about one party at the biniak house when he saw a 12 yr old Bobby sitting on the porch bored so he grabbed a piece of wood and screwed on some rollerskate wheels and set him loose. Dad said he rode that thing up and down the street all night