Larry Stevenson, a Venice High School graduate who is credited with creating the skateboard "kicktail" and popularizing modern skateboarding with his Santa Monica-based line of skateboards and skateboard magazine, has died. He was 81.
Stevenson, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, died Sunday in Santa Monica, said his son, Curt, in a Facebook posting.
Stevenson invented the kicktail, the upward bend at the back of a skateboard that allows for a wide range of tricks. He also created the first skate team in 1963 and hosted the first skateboard contest in 1963.
Stevenson was working as a Venice Beach lifeguard in the 1950s and adapted the look and style of surfing to make professional grade skateboards. He started the Makaha brand of skateboards in 1963 and hand-crafted the boards out of a garage in the 2600 block of Colorado Boulevard in Santa Monica, according to an account on the Web site of Makaha Skateboards.
He also published Surfguide magazine in the 1960s and the Poweredge skateboarding magazine in the 1980s and 1990s.
Stevenson was inducted in 2010 into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame. His son, Curt, accepted on his behalf and the speech is available on YouTube. A documentary called “Makaha, The Story of the Originator” has been in the works.
Stevenson also attended Santa Monica College and attended the University of Southern California on a swimming scholarship.