Friday, January 26, 2018

Kent Sherwood R.I.P.

Kent Sherwood was known on these pages as the step father of the illustrious Jay Adams, amateur photographer, and the founder of Z-FLEX skateboards, my only hourly employer! Most recently at Jay's request we made a book together compiled of Kent's photographs he made of Jay from the 1960's up til about 1977. It came out independently at first some years back, but was recently re-released with an updated design and some new text via Universe/Rizzoli Publications last year.

Artist, Cultural historian, and photojournalist C.R. Stecyk III wrote about Kent in the introduction of the JAY BOY book:
Kent survives via getting contracts from the U.S. government to sculpt fine technological marvels out of composite materials.

The politicians issue official proclamations which state Sherwood is a credit to us all. And maybe he is, cause he don’t ever look at the awards. Just like his son Jay don’t watch the films. Of the legend he forged before which he cannot now care to remember.

Kent Sherwood is retired and resides in Malibu. He is the holder of a number of patents for pioneering achievements in composite material construction techniques. As many of these innovations involve advance technology and are deemed to be of militarily strategic importance, they are highly classified.

Despite his tremendous success Kent remains the same unassuming Honolulu beach boy I met decades ago in Dave Sweet’s surf shop.

... These photographs reek of Sherwood’s insider perspective back then as the armorer of choice for fun along the oceanfront. And of the kid’s intrinsic role as the test pilot for sidewalk surfing’s future. Forever in a day.

Kent's only request he asked of me, concerning the book was to be sure that 100% of his royalties and advance were split equally among Jay's widow Tracy and his children, Seven and Venice. He loved the way it came out (both times).

Here is the latest edition of the wonderful book
"Jay Boy: The Early Years of Jay Adams".

and here's some "dialogue" Kent wrote upon the re-release of the JAY BOY book:
I was born and raised in Hawaii. When I was four, I was taken out surfing by a beach boy at Waikiki. From that moment on, surfing was my life. Our family moved to California when I was twelve where I finished Junior and Senior High School. I went back to Hawaii after graduation in 1959 where I worked as a beach boy at the Hawaiian Village Hotel for three years.

When I returned to California in 1962 I took up photography as a hobby and began doing all of my own film developing and printing.

In 1964 I was living in the old Alan Gomes surfboard fiber glassing shop on Pacific Avenue in Venice which I had purchased shortly before. I met Jay and his mother, Philaine, at a party in Venice when he was three. We took up residence in my small building in Venice for a year, and then moved to a house on the Venice Canals. Jay was a very active kid and into everything and ready for anything.

That same year I opened up a beach equipment rental business under the P.O.P Pier, which lasted for two years. I would take Jay to the beach daily and let him play in the shore break on a surf mat. After he turned four I made him a small multi-colored surfboard and had a custom wetsuit made for him. I started getting him out on small inside waves. From that point on he was a surfer for life. I hate to admit it but by the time he was ten or eleven he was a better surfer than me. I loved watching him in action and it was very easy to get good photos of him.

In 1972 Jay was eleven and on the Zephyr surf and skate team. Jeff and Skip decided that they would like to get into the skateboard business. Jay and I designed the original fiberglass Zephyr Skateboard which I produced in a small manufacturing building that I owned in Inglewood. We were a family until 1978 when he and his mother decided to move to Hawaii. Jay and I stayed in close contact over the years through thick and thin.

In the late 1990’s Stacy Peralta asked me if I had any old photos of the early skateboarding period. I gave him a box of negatives from that time, some of which he used in his documentary, “Dogtown and Z-Boys”. Stacy returned the negatives to me contact printed in a binder which I gave to Jay as a wedding present.

Jay is now a legend but his fame never went to his head. He is sorely missed but at least I know he passed away doing what he loved best, surfing.

He was genuine with me always. A kind hearted man, who knew his time was up, and left us with dignity.

Kent and I catching up at the premiere of "DogTown and Z-Boys" circa 2002


  1. A very good man know as papa Kent since foam matrix till now may he rest in peace a blessing to have worked for him and with him

  2. I worked with papa Kent at an aerospace company for a few years. I miss him.