Three Untold Tales From Ozzie Wright's Best Mate, Vaughan "Deadly" Blakey
"I really do believe Oz has this little magic part of him... He’s got something going on that the rest of us don’t have, in terms of seeing beauty in life."
(Ed. Note: Vaughan 'Deadly' Blakey and Ozzie Wright have been best mates since their first day of kindergarten.
Since then, the Sydney-based duo has made surf movies together, started a band together, and built two wonderfully divergent careers in the world of surfing. Their symbiotic relationship (Oz the in-water talent, Vaughan the surf media don) has allowed Oz and Vaughan to create iconic pieces of Australian surfing history, which will be passed on for generations.
Vaughan has been around for many of the pivotal moments in Ozzie's career, but also for some childhood struggles, which makes him the ideal candidate to share a few remarkable stories that Oz would never tell about himself. (Oscar is quite the modest gent!)
Below, Deadly highlights some important and entertaining moments from Ozzie's past.)
Coming in hot!
I remember in the early days of Ozzie's career, when he was filming 156 Tricks, he went to Europe with his mate Cowboy to get clips. Not many crew at that time were consistently bringing that punk-skate aspect into surfing, but Oz was right on top of it.
Oz had this session at a French beachie where he just went absolutely fucking psycho. He landed every single trick he tried and then would run up the beach giggling after every ride. I heard a crowd started to gather, and by the end of it, there were people clapping and cheering with every air he did.
This is was probably one of the best surfs of Ozzie’s whole life. Unfortunately, Cowboy, who he’d employed to film 156 Tricks, had hooked up with some chick the night before and went to Spain on a romantic getaway with her, so he missed the whole thing. Not one wave was captured.
I know that that session would grind Ozzie a little bit even to this day, but it would never be something he’d say out in public [about Cowboy], because he’s the most loyal friend of all time. So I’m just basically dropping Cowboy straight in shit with this one.
Cowboy, did you get it mate?!
In the early days of us partying and experimenting with psychedelics, Oz would go running into the bush because he thought he could talk to the trees.
He’d come back and say, “Man, I was running through the bushes as fast as I could and trees were telling me, ‘Go left! Go right!’," and he reckons he could sprint through thick scrub and not hit a single branch because the trees were saying, "Duck! Go left! Go right! Up! Down! Barrel-roll!"
That said, I really do believe Oz has this little magic part of him – like a sixth sense or something about him that sees the world differently. I think colours are more vibrant and nature sort of talks to him. He’s got something going on that the rest of us don’t have in terms of seeing beauty in life.
When Oz was younger, it was just really high highs and incredibly low lows. Maybe coming through that in your formative years helps you appreciate just how magical the world can be, if you can get through it.
"Lean back," howled the moon.
Ozzie’s dad, Rick, was super talented.
He had a mega gift for wordplay and was an awesome illustrator. But Rick was also stuck in the real world of having to be a landscaper and worked really hard in his life. The frustration of wanting to spend all his time doing his art, up against the realities of having to work hard to support a family, really got to him.
There’s a famous story where Oz came home from school bummed one day, and Rick asked him what was wrong.
Ozzie was like, “I’m over school. I hate it.”
Then Rick said, “If all you want to do is draw and surf for the rest of your life, that’s all you have to do.”
When Oz was between 12 and 15, his dad actually said that to him. That was unheard of at the time, and it played a major role in dictating the course of Ozzie’s life. He dropped out at 15 and started pursuing surfing and art full-time.
And still to this day, Ozzie can't stop making.
Then Rick died on Christmas morning when Ozzie was 18. It doesn’t get any more traumatic.
That same year his dad died, Oz also busted his knee. He needed a full reconstruction, six months of recovery, then he did his ankle straight after, which was another three or four months.
So Ozzie spent the year that his dad died lying in bed.
The main outlet that Ozzie had to process emotions and get rid of whatever problems he had was surfing. And he didn’t have that. All he had was his brain and drawing. We were all at work or school so he didn’t have many people around. He just had to deal with all this grief.
But I think that tragedy must have played a role in forging Ozzie’s desire to make the most out of life. He came out of that depression just chomping at the bit to get stuck into life.
But he’s always had it—that creativity and that spark. Even since primary school, he was the kid everybody wanted to be friends with. He still is.