Stab Magazine | Remembering Bruce Brown
414 Views

Remembering Bruce Brown

The surf world mourns an icon.

news // Dec 12, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Seminal surf filmmaker Bruce Brown peacefully left this world Sunday evening in Santa Barbara, having left an indelible, beautiful mark on it.

He was 80 years old.

In 1966, Brown released The Endless Summer and turned the sport of surfing on its collective head. Things would never be the same thanks to his vision, candor, humility and desire to show the world how damn fun riding waves really is. 

Brown’s filmmaking career kicked off in 1958 with the release of the jazz-infused Slippery When Wet. Classics like Barefoot Adventures and Surfing Hollow Days followed shortly afterwards, but it was the debut of The Endless Summer with Mike Hynson and Robert August that launched him, and surfing at large, into the cultural stratosphere. 

A master of turning lemons to lemonade, in 1963, Brown took a paltry $50,000 budget and set out with Hynson and August. The legend goes that the movie wasn’t originally intended to be an around-the-world adventure, but a travel agent informed Brown it was cheaper to hop around the globe than make specific trips to already popularized surf zones. Brown created The Endless Summer narrative virtually out of thin air, which is pretty remarkable if you think about it. That simple twist of fate led to discoveries in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and, of course, Hawaii…“home of the endless summer.” 

Brown’s entertaining, somewhat sarcastic narration coupled with The Sandals timeless soundtrack and John Van Hamersveld’s iconic cover artwork proved to be the perfect storm. The Endless Summer wasn’t just an instant success in the burgeoning surf scene, it cut much deeper. Selling out theaters across the country, it helped shed to beach-blanket perception of the sport that Hollywood was perpetuating. 

In 1971, Brown turned his lens on motorcycle riding, filming and producing On Any Sunday in the sand dunes above Dana Point with his old friend and actor Steve McQueen. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1972.

His last major project came in the form of the 1994 release of The Endless Summer II. Produced alongside his son, Dana, the film stared a skipping Pat O’Connell and square-jawed Robert “Wingnut” Weaver as they reprised some of the locations shot in the original film and paid homage to a host of legends, while introducing the mainstream to names like Kelly Slater, Tom Curren, Gerry Lopez, and Cloudbreak.

Brown once said, “You can’t tell how good a wave is until you ride it.”

It was that mindset, that belief, that sent surfers into the wilds in droves. Brown’s lust for adventure and his willingness to pretty much try anything paved the way for all those that came after him. He paved the way for intrepid surf explorers like Kevin Naughton and Craig Peterson. And from Jack McCoy to Kai Neville, Phil Edwards to Kelly Slater, Brown’s vision lives on in every surf movie we watch and every surf star we herald. His fingerprint is still on so much of what we enjoy about surfing and how we perceive ourselves.

“Many of us ride winter and summer, but the ultimate thing for us would be to have an endless summer,” said Brown. “The only way to do this is to travel around the world.”

Brown, like The Endless Summer, now belongs to the ages. It’s up to all of us to remember, revere and keep traveling, keep exploring, and most importantly, just keep surfing.

On the event of Brown’s passing, surfers took to social media to share their memories of Brown, and the influene he and his films had on their lives: 

 

Screen Shot 2017 12 11 at 11.07.00 AM
Screen Shot 2017 12 11 at 11.02.09 AM
Screen Shot 2017 12 11 at 11.01.43 AM
Screen Shot 2017 12 11 at 11.00.35 AM

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

7:11

What Happens When You Borrow A Pro’s Board?

Joyride: The Shrizz from PANDA surfboards.

Aug 16, 2022

2:17

Mick Fanning Samples California’s Finest Local Produce

Mayhem at Lowers.

Aug 16, 2022

Mountains Died So You Could Surf

The value of sand.

Aug 15, 2022

9:12

UPDATE: People Are Still Surfing ‘La Jetee’ in Reunion Island

Returning to the best & sharkiest air wave in the world, as seen in Mod…

Aug 14, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Female) Surfers

What the Stab reader survey teaches us about taste.

Aug 14, 2022

2:14

Kelly and Local Gal to Win Teahupo’o?

Local insights and a firing forecast.

Aug 13, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Male) Surfers

Insights from the 2022 Stab Reader survey.

Aug 13, 2022

16:04

Fear And Loathing in Mainland Mex

Parker Coffin, Harry Roach, and the Roark crew embark on an authentic Oaxacan (surf) trip.

Aug 13, 2022

Tahiti Preview: The End Of The Road For 72% Of The CT

And hello there, blob of swell.

Aug 12, 2022

3:24

While Everyone Flocked To Tahiti, Kelly Stayed in Jbay

...And proceeded to rip the hell out of it on a "borrowed" 5-finned Tomo.

Aug 11, 2022

1:38

Can A GQ Cover Boy Take Out Teahupo’o?

Kauli Vaast is your incredibly handsome Tahiti trials winner.

Aug 11, 2022

Watch: Ramble On With Caity Simmers 

An action-rich tour behind the scenes of her triumphant first voyage to Oz.

Aug 11, 2022

PSA: Surf Filmers Not Welcome In Nicaragua

Cameras and drones are being seized on arrival, Stab spoke with two recent visitors.

Aug 11, 2022

Inside The Alternative Surfboard Marketing Machine 

Two of the biz's best — Matt Parker and Blake Peters — spill many beans.

Aug 10, 2022

The Tragic Parallels Between The Murder Of Ricardo Dos Santos & 8x World Jiu Jitsu Champion Leandro Lo

Two Brazilian sporting icons killed brazenly by off-duty police officers.

Aug 9, 2022

The Pick-Up, Vans US Open: In The Belly Of The Beast

Finger flips, shaping with Zion Wright, slurpees, Hawaiian takeovers, and the king of Surfline rewinds.

Aug 8, 2022

Albee Layer Discusses His Not-So-Budding Acting Career And The Upcoming Film “Sweet Adventure”

"Matt and Nora were tripping a little harder than I was just because they weren't…

Aug 8, 2022

Zeke Lau & Bettylou Sakura Johnson Win The Vans US Open Of Surfing 

Hawaii dominates HB.

Aug 8, 2022
Advertisement