Hailing from the influential San Francisco BMX scene of the early 1980s, Drob was part of a special crew called the Curb Dogs. The Curb Dogs were ahead of the curve. Led by the late Dave “Vander” Vanderspek, the Curb Dogs blended BMX and skateboarding at time when that just didn’t happen. Drob’s brother, Ray Meyer, a crucial Curb Dog, was a professional freestyle skater and had a pro model on Santa Cruz (side note: King-Dog Vander is one of very few people to ever hold down simultaneous sponsorships for BMX and skateboarding, as well). The Curb Dogs did their best work in the streets, at a time when the focus of BMX freestyle was more parks and pools, with some rudimentary flatland tricks in the mix. Drob was one of the main members of the squad, blending flatland moves with 3D environment of Golden Gate Park and the varied terrain of his homeland. Around this same time, Drob became a member of the inaugural Skyway Freestyle team.
While the Curb Dogs were doing their thing in NorCal, the BMX media down south started to take notice. When Freestylin’ magazine came to life in 1984, Drob and the boys were right there, showing the BMX world what they were all about.
On a personal level, I’ve known Drob a long time, but I won’t pretend we are super tight. During my days in the Southern California BMX media, Drob stayed mostly up north (or on tour) doing things his way, while many of his contemporaries were pushing for more coverage and chasing BMX dreams of fame and fortune. While the media whores might have squeezed more juice out of the magazines back then, Drob’s secure position in the comfort zone of the SF Bay (then and now), make a clear statement that he was and is doing this for himself and his crew, not for some bullshit BMX fantasy league. Drob’s the real deal, and has been all along. For the love of God, he still rides a coaster brake.
Interview By Lee Sultemeier
When you are talking about old school street riding innovators and pioneers, you don’t get any more OG than San Francisco’s Maurice “Drob” Meyer. Along with fellow Curb Dog and NorCal legend Dave Vanderspeck (R.I.P), as well as dudes like Pete Augustin, Eddie Roman and Dave Voelker down in San Diego, Drob was in on the very early days of what we now know as BMX Street. Drob was boosting fastplants off shit and manualing the entire length of the ledges at Embarcadero in San Francisco before anyone under the age of 30 was born. That’s a fact. As part of the epic Skyway team of the early and mid-80’s, he has traveled the world enforcing gnarly street justice on spots across the globe. At 50 years young, he continues to pin the proverbial throttle and still shreds at various Bay Area skate parks and spots to this day. It was an absolute honor to interview the dude and listen to him tell his story and speak the BMX gospel….
Interview By Lee Sultemeier
How did you get into BMX, what year was it, and what was your first real BMX bike?
Well, as far as how I got into it, I just saw other kids in my neighborhood riding around and stuff and thought it looked pretty cool. My first real BMX bike was a used, worn out, spray painted black Schwinn Stingray that I got off my older brother in 1975. I remember it didn’t have a full pedal on one side, just a spindle (laughter). I was the 2nd youngest in a family of 8 and we were poor, so I never got anything brand new until I got sponsored by Skyway years later.
What part of San Francisco did you grow up in, what neighborhood?
Patrero Hill neighborhood originally, then moved to the Lakeview neighborhood when I was like 12. Lots of ghetto stuff was popping off in the Lakeview neighborhood back then when we moved there. I would just go out cruising on my bike and explore the streets..Get chased by neighborhood hoodlums and the cops..I considered my bike like a cowboy’s horse, just going out and seeing what trouble I could get into on it.
That is an awesome comparison, a cowboy’s horse!
(Laughter)..That’s how it was, that’s the way it felt. Just going out and seeing what kind of stuff I could get into on my bike. It was freedom.
Living in a bad neighborhood, did you ever get your bike stolen?
The very first bike I ever had, it got taken from outside of a Safeway by this neighborhood punk. Everybody knew him. He took it up to the top of a parking garage and threw it off the roof. He just did it to be a punk.
Yeah, it was…Also, in the ’80s after I was sponsored by Skyway, my garage got totally cleaned out by some thieves. This is in ’87 or ’88. Then a few weeks later I’m driving home on my motorcycle and I see this young chick riding on my chrome Skyway T.A. I knew it was mine because I had painted some white over the chrome to give it a two tone look..(Laughter)…Kinda customized it…Anyway, I see this chick riding it down the sidewalk and I turned around and drove my motorcycle up onto the sidewalk and chased her for about half a block and caught up with her at the corner.
All Hell’s Angels style!
(Laughter)…Yep, totally…Anyway, I catch up to her at the corner and she’s just horrified and scared to death. And this corner we were at was in a serious area. Full on dealers and pimps hung out there, so they were all getting antsy and wondering what’s going on, like “what’s this whiteboy’s trip?”..(Laughter)…Anyway, she told me a friend sold it to her and she actually helped me get all my stuff back. I didn’t have to go to the cops or anything.
That’s an awesome story…Now, let’s get into the early street riding scene at Golden Gate Park / Embarcadero (San Francisco). This is back before the term “BMX street riding” even existed. A lot of really epic and pioneering street shit was happening there, and it was getting a lot of magazine coverage. Guys like you and Dave Vanderspeck, as well as Augustin and Eddie Roman down in San Diego, built the ground floor of street riding in my opinion.
It’s really interesting how that scene evolved. Back before I started riding there a lot, the skate scene had already been happening there for a little while and I had been down there and checked it out. My best friend at the time was Tommy Guerrero (legendary street skating pioneer and Bones Brigade member) and I started going down there and riding all the time. This is in late ’82 or early ’83.
The fact that you were friends with Tommy Guerrero is pretty fuckin’ awesome.
(Laughter)…Yeah, I first met TG in 1978 through my older brother Ray, who was down with all the crew from California Precision Skateboards. That was the very first skate shop in San Francisco.
We used to go to all go to skateparks and punk shows together. It was a fun scene for sure.
What year did the Curb Dogs start?
Let’s see…I’m gonna say ’83, but our first show was in ’84. Vander (Dave Vanderspeck) was the force behind the Curb Dogs. He was the one on the phone booking shows and printing T-shirts in his garage, he was just always hustling. He was a great promoter as well as a rider. We were doing shows on our own portable halfpipe in the mid-80’s. We had big crowds at the shows too. He also had the very first BMX halfpipe contest in his backyard. He had a series of halfpipe contests. He threw a street contest in ’85 which pre-dates any organized street contests that I ever heard of. Vander was way ahead of his time. He was just 18 or 19 years old during the time he was doing all this. He was an amazing dude.
I always forget Vander was a vert rider also. Him being such a street riding pioneer I tend to just think about his street stuff.
Yeah, he was a ripper on vert. He was a really good skater also.
I still remember during his flatland runs at AFA contests he would do a surfer, and one of his buddys would hand him a skateboard and he would acid drop onto his board from his bike while doing a surfer. That shit was epic.
(Laughter) Yep…He was always doing totally original stuff.
How did your Skyway sponsorship come about?
There was a huge ABA race held at the Cow Palace here in San Francisco every year, and in ’84 they had us do a freestyle show in the parking lot. There was a really good crowd and the show was super awesome. Chuck and Jon Raudman, the brothers that started Skyway were there. Chuck still holds the patent on Tuff Wheels. Anyway, Chuck and Jon struck up a conversation with Vander at the Cow Palace show and had several phone conversations with him in the 2 weeks that followed and ended up giving him a deal and basically let him pick a team. I was lucky enough to make it on there. Skyway being a NorCal based company and us all being from the same area was a big plus. The magazine coverage that the Curb Dogs and the San Francisco scene had been getting helped us out for sure. It just all fit together at the right time. We went on a European and British tour not long after I got on the team..It was so sick..England, Germany, France,Belgium, Denmark. We were all over the place. Skyway gave Vander a prototype of what would become the Skyway Street Beat just prior to leaving to go over there. He rode that for the whole tour. We had a lot of fun over there, England especially. The scene over there was huge. They really had it together.
That’s rad…Tell me about the legendary madman, Hugo Gonzalez. Was he on that tour?
No, he was still on GT. He got on Skyway not long after that tour.
Hugo was a beast. He Jumped the fence out of the bowl at Del Mar. Then 360’d it. Then did a fence ride on it out of the bowl before anyone was even doing wallrides on walls. He has done so many crazy things on vert..540’s over huge quarterpipe gaps and stuff like that..Hugo is a badass..I saw him last weekend actually.
Sick…I’ve known his brother Oscar forever, but I’ve never gotten a chance to meet Hugo…Getting back to Skyway, so many legendary riders rode for Skyway. You, Hugo, Vander, Hoffman, Craig Cambell, Eddie Roman, Kevin Jones, Carlo Griggs, Bob Kohl..Cheri Elliot.
They have had a ton of rippers for sure.
Were you still on Skyway when they picked up Hoffman?
Yeah I was. His first Skyway summer tour was my last. That would have been 1987. I’m stoked to have been around Mat during his early years. Skyway beat out every major BMX company at that time to get Hoffman. Doing shows with him was amazing, he would blast these super high airs and super stretched can-cans and come back in all nose bonk style (Laughter). So rad. He was always ripping so hard. You could tell he was a warrior even in his mid-teens.
So awesome…What led to you leaving Skyway?
Well, they had signed me as a flatlander, and I wasn’t really keeping up with the latest tricks. I wasn’t really interested in keeping up at that point, to be honest.
You were too busy doing unbelievable street tricks that were years ahead of their time to worry about flatland.
(Laughter) I definitely liked riding street more.
You were like Pete Augustin and Eddie Roman in the sense that y’all had started off as flatlanders, but had lost interest in it and just started street riding full time..Before anybody else was doing that.
Yeah, pretty much…Street riding is a different trip.
You worked at the Skyway home office after you rode for them didn’t you?
I did. I really enjoyed it. I was able to do my part and contribute some designs. They were and still are a great company.
I’ve seen on social media that you still shred.
Yeah, I still go session the local skate parks every so often. I go down to San Jose to the Lake Cunnigham skate park now and then. I like the set-up there. I still go to Wilkerson’s jams. I just saw Ron last weekend. The Old School BMX Reunions they have out here at Woodward every year are always a blast.
Stoked…Drob, I gotta tell you that it was truly an honor to interview you. Big thanks to you…R.I.P to Vander…Cheers.
Hell yeah..Thanks to you guys too, and thanks to my wife and kids for being awesome.