My Hat is a Helmet – Fred Gall’s early Tracker videos

Young Fred Gall

When one looks at the skateboarding career of Fred Gall, if we consider him to be in the final chapters of the epic right now (and I hope to god we don’t), there is a poetic completeness to the how it begins and ends. In a public life on video that will span 3 decades; a life full of adventure, bondo, beers, and beanies, the whole wild ride is bookended with an onslaught of lip tricks on wooden ramps at Granny’s house. It feels right that Fred made it through alive and by some miracle is safely back home,  skateboarding in Sewaren, New Jersey.
In fact, Fred recently confirmed with us that the parking block he brought to Granny’s yard over 30 years ago, which we saw again in Fred’s Epicly Later’d episode from 2007, is still at the house. Against all odds, a couple of poor choices, some amazing luck mixed with some real tragedy, Fred is here with us, skating nearly every day, and apparently working on a couple new video parts for release later this year.

But let’s start towards the beginning.
By the time Fred Gall was 11 years old he was already well on the road towards skateboarding success. Despite living in the East Coast, he had already attracted a sponsorship from Alva skateboards (which would then rebrand as New School), as well as affiliated truck manufacturer Tracker. By the time Fred is 13 years of age he has had parts in no less than 4 videos.

Fred’s part starts at 30:20.

Lil’ Fred’s footage from the 1991 New School video Minus One is mostly just a smattering of park miniramp tricks and recordings from a pair of plywood contests in some dilapidated lot. But we also get treated to a couple of street tricks including a decent curb cut backside 360 ollie.

The Brotherhood (1991) appears to have been filmed in a single afternoon and features all the crud camera handling, early 90s post-punk skate music, giant pants, and late shoves you would expect from the era. Fred is presented quite literally as a “12 & Under” child and the B-roll of him playing in Gymboree reinforces that image. This is just acorn footage. But there are glimpses of the mighty oak he is to become in that short-stair 360 flip and even some switch ledge action.

The companion piece to Brotherhood, also from 1991, is Tracker’s Stacked. I’m honestly not sure which video was released first between these two Tracker vids and the New School part.

Similarly filmed in a day or two, Stacked gives us a sampling of young Fred’s transition skills. From Granny’s driveway to the Brick Town skatepark, this part is actually quite clairvoyant. Noseblunt backside reverts? Backside 360 ollies? Quarter to quarter frontside ollies? We will be seeing these tricks again. A lot.

The final slice of Freddy’s prehistory is from Tracker’s 1992 Disturbed video. With just 40 seconds of footage from Fred’s California adventure, we can see the first blooms of unmissable Gall. The switch skills. The slouch! And that backside 50-50 attempt on a handrail was gnarly.
By the time Disturbed was being filmed, Fred had been recruited by Dyrdek as the first non-inaugural member of the Alien Workshop team. The switch frontside 180 down the smaller Carlsbad gap was featured in his TWS checkout. He was on Spitfire and was just starting to make pilgrimages down to Philadelphia where he would start to push the boundaries of switch ledge skating, the impact of a shop video, and how many beers one can drink before having late-night Wawa hoagies.

KellyRyan_LovePark
photo by Kelly Ryan

But wait, according to Fred, somewhere out there is a missing New School video part. Fred told me, “I know what song I skated to, but I haven’t seen the video in like 20 years probably. I skated to the Magical Mystery Tour. You know, the Beatles. And it was all footage from when I went to the Atlanta finals and they just had a camcorder. They filmed me skating the gas station across the street.” I still haven’t found that video on the internet.
Any help out there, people?

Bonus Fred:
Here is a tiny bit of young Gall from a Sub Zero contest in Woodbury, NJ as featured in the rare Eastern Exposure 1 video from 1993 (starting at 9:21):

You might have to watch this video on Youtube.

Bonus Bonus Fred:
Joe Hiddleson, who was there, man, has posted some raw footage he and Dan Wolfe captured of the 93 Sub Zero contest. Joe’s instagram is chock full o early 90s East Coast treasure.

Young Fred is at 3:40

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