Sunday, October 2, 2011

Terry Nails

“What’s the Point?” –A Look Into the Life of Rock Star Terry Nails

Local celebrity, Terry Nails, has lived the Hollywood rock star life for over 50 years. His life has ranged from being a professional, Guinness record-holding skateboarder, to being a rock legend playing with bands and artists like Tommy Tutone, The Pointer Sisters, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Jones, and even Eddie Money. Nails sits down for an interview, shares some wild stories, and gives some advice to rising young adults and college students.

Nails grew up on the outskirts of Las Vegas, Nevada. His family traveled a lot between Nevada and California, which gave Nails the chance to get into the early skate and surf scene. His brother and him would go to the nearby skate rink, rent a pair of roller skates, and then run out the backdoor with them. They used the steel wheels from these roller skates to nail into pieces of wood to skateboard on, trying to emulate surfing movements on the concrete. As he progressed in the skateboarding profession, he got to skate with concrete legends like Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and even Stacy Peralta, all members of the Zephyr Skate Team in Dog town, California in the early 1960s. Nails even went on to hold a Guinness World Record for fastest land-speed on a skateboard at 55 mph. Unfortunately, his record was succeeded shortly after a year.

His dad was a successful jazz musician and member of the band The Four Freshman. He had Nails taking piano and guitar lessons as early as three years old. For awhile he lived across the street from one of the guitar players in Big brother, James Gurley, and Gurley transformed Nails into a bass player. “Guitar players are like spoons players. They’re a dime a dozen. Everybody needs a bass player and there are not many good bass players. You actually play like a bass player,” said Gurley.

At this time in his life, Nails was living in San Francisco by himself, had just got done touring with the Grateful Dead as a roadie. He even went on to live with the Dead on a ranch for a little over a year. Music became his life. Shortly, he started playing bass for Tommy Tutone and manning the bass for musicians as varied as Ozzy Osbourne, The Pointer Sisters, and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols. Rachel Bardin, writer and photographer from the Drift Magazine, said “Terry Nails was the guts of skateboarding, surfing, and rock and roll.”

Nails has been doing his own radio show, The Big Surf Show, at Flagler College’s Radio Station 88.5 WFCF in St. Augustine, Floirda, for a little over seven years now. He works part time at The Surf Station, also in St. Augustine, selling surfboard after surfboard for owner, Tory Strange. Strange said “Terry’s been a great employee here for eight years, and has sold more boards that any other employee I’ve had. He’s a fantastic friend, a stylish surfer, and a thrill to have working at the shop. He’s jamming”

I asked Nails what advice he would give to the upcoming generations, and he had quite a heavy input.

Boshart (Reporter for Flagler College)- “Is there anything you would want to suggest to college students, or young adults wanting to go out and make a name for themselves?”

Nails- “Well, everyone’s got their own life, do what you’re going to do with it. If you feel like you really need to do exactly what society says to do, then maybe that’s your path, but mine’s never been that, you know? What do you want to do? You’ve only got this one time, only one life, you don’t have anything else. Are you going to go and do all this work, work that you don’t want to do, and work until you retire? What’s the point? How many people do you know that worked really, really hard, saved all this money, and lost their asses? None of them are able to do anything they wanted to do. Screw it. Are you going to play by those rules again? You got to make the rules as you go. You know what the definition of insanity is? It’s repeating the same action over and over again, and expecting different results. That’s insanity to me. I’ve seen so many people that just sold their lives, down the river so-to-speak, to get to retirement and they either got fired just before, so they didn’t get their retirement, or they died right after that. If you’re going to enjoy life, go out and have the adventure now, while you can. This is just me, it’s who I am.”

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