Herb Neumann might not be a guy that most skaters know, but anyone who knew the man knows how important he was to skateboarding. Herb was more than just a low-key local legend in North Jersey, he was a great skater, innovative creator, and most of all a friend and mentor to myself and others. Herb passed in November 2014 after fighting cancer for many years. The news was tough. Without Herb, skating would be different and so would be my life, and the lives of my friends. He gave us all a lot and for me, that keeps his memory alive in my head every day.
I bought my first skateboard from Herb. I bought my first longboard from Herb. For years I went to his shop, called Skatewerks, and bought stuff from him. Over time, we became friends just through talking at the shop. My friends also got to know him better and soon we would all go there together, buy some wheels or something, and just talk about boards. One day Herb let us join him for a little skate session. The hill was small and only a few blocks from the shop, so like he would do, Herb simply closed the store and went skating. We followed him down the hill. At the bottom you have to turn 90 degrees either left or right, and we decided on left. All of a sudden there was a pickup truck in front of us. My friend and I both tried to slide but didn’t have the skill at the time. His board got totally run over and mine ended up stuck under the truck’s rear tire. Herb meanwhile had gone through the corner with no issues and skated back over to us worried that our parents would never let us near him again. I will always remember this day because it scared the shit out of me, and it made me realize how bad I was (and how good Herb was) at skating.
A while later (when we had more skill) Herb showed my friends and I a massive, smooth, consistently car-less hill close to our hometown. Since then we have skated this hill almost as our go-to, and have even held slide jams there. This hill is a dead end from the top, so at the bottom is the critical 90 degree turn onto the cross street. I will never forget driving Herb’s car down the hill behind him as he bombed it carving deep, then stuck the chicane and smoothly made the critical right turn at the bottom. His style is something I’ll never forget. He inspired me to try his line a few weeks later – full bore bomb, through the corners, then to the right at the bottom. I slammed on my head hard trying the final turn, to the point where my full-face chipped and cracked a little. I have never tried it again, but something tells me I need to now. This memory of Herb is just another reminder to me of what a great skater he was, and how much he loved to do it.
This photo is of a commemorative board that Stimulus made in Herb’s memory. Only 50 were made I think, but I’m still gonna ride mine. The board’s graphic is one of the steezy-est photos I have seen. Herb could shred like nobody else. This board is just another thing to remind me of Herb and what he gave to me. Lately I’ve felt more inspired. I’ve had more of a desire to skate, surf, snowboard, and to push my limits in general, and I know that comes from Herb’s memory. He was always pushing himself and skating no matter what, and that will stick with me forever.
One thought on “Herb Neumann: Low-Key Legend”
Beautifully said! You got me choked up! Thanks for sharing and keeping his memory alive!