An illustrated biography of surfing legend DEWEY WEBER based on more than 100 interviews completed over a three year period.
Little Man on Wheels is the compelling biography of Dewey Weber, surfing's first superstar. Richly illustrated, the book follows his meteoric ascent to the top of the burgeoning 1960s surf industry to his freefall into alcoholism and financial ruin.
Based on more than 100 interviews with many of surfing's most notable pioneering figures including Greg Noll, Nat Young, Lance Carson, Mickey Munoz, Marge Calhoun, and Linda Benson, Little Man on Wheels follows Dewey's youth in Manhattan Beach through his friendship and breakup with Dale Velzy, to his reaching superstar status as the father of hotdogging and his launch of Dewey Weber Surfboards -- the most innovative and successful surboard manufacturer of his time.
Little Man on Wheels details his friendship and collaboration with shaping genius Harold Ige, Dewey's marriage to Caroline, the shortboard revolution and demise of longboarding, and Dewey's signature impact on the resurgence of longboarding in the 1980s, and ultimately, his downward spiral into alcoholism. The book concludes by describing the enduring legacy of the Weber brand through the work of his eldest son, Shea Weber and how the iconic Dewey Weber Surfboards remains popular worldwide.
Excerpts from author's introduction:
Time was, and then it wasn’t. And it will never be again.
It’s been 50 plus years since Kathy Kohner’s dad, Frederick penned the best-selling novel Gidget in 1957. The book and movie of the same name starring Sandra Dee in 1959 introduced surfing to everyone from Bakersfield to Virginia Beach and the Great Lakes to Texas, and all points in between. Gidget had a cataclysmic-like Big Bang impact on the sport of surfing in California which, before the book and movie, was an activity enjoyed nearly exclusively by lifeguards and watermen and a few adventurous women mainly along California’s coast from San Diego to Santa Cruz. They clustered locally at places like Windansea, San Onofre, Dana Point, Palos Verdes Cove, the South Bay, Malibu, and Santa Barbara. If you paddled into surf on a long board, stood up and rode a wave in California in the 30s, 40s, and early 50s, you probably knew a large percentage of surfers of the era. You either carved your own board by hand or knew someone who would make one for you. You adapted to the design changes as they evolved from solid redwood boards, “kook boxes,” and balsa wood Malibu Chips to the foam and fiberglass version that “modernized” surfing.
Malibu was one of surfing’s evolutionary hotspots. Tom Blake, a kind of Tom Edison of surfing, rode waves here in the late 1920s. By the Second World War, Malibu had earned a solid reputation among surfers up and down the coast. The sport’s modern-era Founding Fathers who plied these waters included Bob Simmons, Joe Quigg, Matt Kivlin, Dave Sweet, Pete Peterson, Dale Velzy and others. It didn’t take long for Malibu’s incomparable perfection to become a magnet for the fast emerging talented few whose skills grew by leaps and bounds with every new innovation.
In days gone by, everybody who’s anybody surfed the Bu and they surfed it often and well. The legends who made Malibu as much as Malibu made them have all surfed over the same reef I’m surfing this morning – Lance Carson, Johnny Fain, Mickey Dora, Butch Linden, J. Riddle, Mickey Munoz, Kemp Aaberg, Linda Benson, and so many others. Their images adorned full-color photo spreads in Surfer magazine and they were the ones early surf filmmakers like Bud Browne and Bruce Brown focused their lenses on during Malibu’s glorious years.
One surfer, as much as any in the history of Malibu, lit up the place like few have ever done, either then or now. He was a South Bay surfer named David Earl Weber and everyone knew him as “Dewey.” In a sport where nicknames were as common as sunburn, another of Dewey’s nicknames was “Little Man on Wheels.” He was first called the Little Man on Wheels by San Clemente surfer, filmmaker, writer, artist, and creator of Surfer magazine, John Severson. Why? Dewey’s footwork on a longboard was something that had to be seen to be believed. Small, compact, strong and athletic, Dewey was a frenetic board rider, constantly in motion, turning powerfully, driving down the face of a wave, pulling off huge cutbacks, stalling, scampering to the nose and quickly back-peddling just as fast. He was a blur in the water and did things no one else had even thought about, much less tried. His aggressive, charging, flamboyant style defined what was meant by the term “hotdogging” and as such, Dewey Weber has been called “the father of hotdogging” and “the original hotdogger.” In deference to Dewey’s then radical style which drastically departed from a more common “stand erect, stand still” approach, Dewey’s style was revolutionary.
So, I think of Lance Carson this morning as I sit in the lineup at Malibu, and Mickey Dora, Buzzy Trent, and Kemp Aaberg. I think of “Tubesteak” Tracy who built and lived in a shack right here on the beach in the 1950s before he and Mickey Munoz dubbed Kathy Kohner “Gidget” and before her father turned her real-life tales of “surfing Malibu with the boys” into a blockbuster movie. I think too, of Dewey Weber, and what it must have been like to see him in the lineup in medium to high surf just tearing the place apart. I think of his white-blond hair, his red trunks, and his powerful dominance of every wave he paddled into, and how he seemed to pull off the impossible. People who surfed with him here and watched him over the years, including Lance Carson have said of Dewey’s mastery of Malibu, “On a good day, no one could touch him.”
I never knew Dewey Weber. But I knew of his legend. As a gremmie growing up in Downey, California in the early 1960s, I regarded Dewey with awe. I have studied films of him surfing and spent hours pouring over hundreds of still photos of The Little Man on Wheels in and out of the water. Working with Caroline Weber, and her two sons and daughter, and with Dewey’s friends like Harold Ige, Greg and Jimmy Noll, Nat Young, Sonny Vardeman and Leroy Grannis, and more than 100 former friends, employees, and admirers of Dewey, a clear portrait has emerged. Now that many of the most celebrated, pioneering surfers from the 50s and 60s are getting on in years, books are starting to tell their stories. These books recall an extraordinary time in the history of the country when the California surf culture was born and exported practically overnight across the nation and around the world, creating a billion dollar industry.
This story is of the man who more than any other surfer was the sport’s first marquee star. In the water, whether riding big waves on Hawaii’s North Shore or ripping up California’s beach breaks Dewey made it hard to look at anyone else. Other surfers emulated his style as he radically changed the perception of what surfing actually was. He was, in summary, a surfer’s surfer.
Dewey applied the same high energy, hotdogging style and showmanship to running the surfboard business he launched in 1960 in Venice, California at the age of 22 with a $1,500 loan from his father. Working with his friend, Harold Ige, who died suddenly on January 4, 2012, and later his wife, Caroline, the trio built Dewey Weber Surfboards into one of the industry’s most successful companies making Dewey one of surfing’s first millionaires. The list of shapers, glassers, and team riders who worked for Dewey and Harold reads like a Who’s Who of Surfing as Dewey's charisma and magnetism attracted the most talented people who helped catapult surfing from a little sport enjoyed by a relative few into a huge global industry.
Dewey’s influence on surfing made him an International Surfing Magazine inaugural Hall of Fame inductee in 1966 along with other leading figures of the day including Mickey Dora, George Downing, the “Father of Modern Surfing,” Duke Kahanamoku, and Greg Noll.
Noll was a childhood friend of Dewey’s going back to their Cub Scout days and Greg became the most well known big wave pioneer and a hugely successful surfboard maker in his own right. Dewey’s stature in the surf industry was so well known that when Dewey died on January 6, 1993 an NPR producer from the East Coast interviewed Greg and asked, “Does this mean the end of surfing?”
Dewey’s death was indeed big news. His memorial service and paddle out off the coast of Redondo Beach attracted several hundred people and was covered overhead by a news helicopter. Articles reported his death, at 54 years of age, in the Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, London Independent, and Wall Street Journal. Hardly before the post-paddle out gatherings that were held in his honor had broken up, Disney Studios presented the Weber family with an option for film rights to Dewey’s life story.
And so it begins, Little Man on Wheels is the story of surfing’s first major superstar and the story of the rise of surf culture itself. This is the story of a time that was, and then it wasn’t. And it will never be again. Little Man on Wheels explores where Dewey came from, who he was, what he won, and tragically, what he lost. Finally, it is a story of how his legend continues today and how the influence of this competitive, driven, and conflicted man survives long after the premature end to his own dynamic life.
For more on the project visit: http://deweyweberbio.blogspot.com/
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A sincere note of thanks and the author's lighthearted PARTLY TRUE HISTORY OF SURFING FROM 3,000 BC TO GIDGET. Excerpt: Islanders used discarded parts of canoes to ride waves on their stomachs, like dolphins, and then found they could actually use larger pieces of wood to ride the waves while standing erect. Anthropologists would later refer to this link in the evolutionary chain as Surfererectus.Estimated delivery: Mar 2012
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Thank you note, copy of the author's lighthearted PARTLY TRUE HISTORY OF SURFING FROM 3,000 BC TO GIDGET, and a 5x7 inch color print of the Dewey Weber StoryboardEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
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Thank you note, 5x7 inch color print of the Dewey Weber Storyboard and two Dewey Weber Surfboards decalsEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
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1 copy of signed hardback edition and sponsor credit listing back of bookEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
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22nd Street Sponsor credit in large type front of book and 1 copy of beautifully bound signed and numbered collectible limited editionEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
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Weber Performer Sponsor credit in large type front of book and 2 copies of beautifully bound signed and numbered collectible limited editionEstimated delivery: Aug 2012
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Your own signed and numbered limited edition Dewey Weber Performer Storyboard -- an actual Performer with a collage of images of Dewey's life covering the deck of the board, PLUS, a Little Man on Wheels Sponsor credit in large type front of book along with a beautifully bound signed and numbered collectible limited edition of the book. Visit http://deweyweberbio.blogspot.com/ to see an image of the StoryboardEstimated delivery: Aug 2012