RIP IN PEACE: Bill Miller

Bill Miller BERNIE MCGINN 72Frontside rock-n-roll      Photo: Bernie McGinn


Skateboarding died today…as it does every once in a while.

And even though we all have those unseen strings connecting us, pulling us a little bit this way and that, they are bumpy alliances at worst and tailwind kinships at best, and so we all cruise on and adjust our trajectory a little bit, smoothing forward and moving down the line.

But this is an eruption. A bomb.

Today we lost Bill Miller.

In my world, Bill was a skateboarding force. Learning tricks, embracing culture, leading through motivated example, and carrying the heavy torch through one of skateboarding’s smallest and most Lord-of-the-Flies eras: the early 80s.

We were lucky. There were a lot of backyard ramps and there were a lot of punkers to show us the way. And Bill understood the assignment like few did. He showed up at every session with a few new tricks. He knew skateboarding’s most obscure details. He tuned in along the line connecting punk and skateboarding and willingly shared what became our soundtrack, our values, our ethos.

But mostly, he was the smartest, the funniest, the most sarcastic, and the most motivated skater in our bubble.

In your world, Bill was the visiting road tripper, he was the interstate communicator, and he was the sole organizer of the Midwest Amateur Ramp Series (M.A.R.S), promoting and running his backyard vert contest series in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and his home state: good ol’ Nebraska.

Listen to the man himself on Bill Miller Live, 2023

Before Lincoln, Nebraska, even had a real skate shop, Bill petitioned the biggest skateboard companies to support his efforts, and then he transmitted those summertime contest rituals to the rest of the disconnected. Through Thrasher Magazine’s monthly communiques and skateboarding’s most effective and most underground network of zines, Bill invited like-minded weirdos from all over the country to ply their maneuvers in the friendly confines of the ubiquitous Middle West backyard vert ramp—often placing in the top five of the very contests he organized.

Bill Miller was peerless, he was unrivaled, and he was the fucking best.

Bill Miller MATT BRAMLETTEFrontside lapper      Photo: Matt Bramlette

There will be more eruptions, there will be more bombs, skateboarding will experience a zillion deaths, and there will always be bumpy connections that skateboarding unapologetically provides for all of us. It doesn't seem right, but it happens, and it's very bad and very stupid and it's going to happen again.

I don't think I'll write his name on my shoes. I won't wear a black armband. I'm just gonna be sad for a while. After that, I'll go places where we skated together, where we worked together, where we learned together, and I'll smile. Because I think now he's not only in my thoughts, but he knows my thoughts—he knows your thoughts—and that's gotta be pretty damn sweet.

Rest well my restless friend.

Rest well to the Birdman.

––Kevin Wilkins
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