A new biography of surfing's first superstar, Malibu's Dewey Weber, delves into the rich history of Southern California surfing culture.
Jerry Derloshon, who serves as the senior director of public affairs at Pepperdine University, wrote the book after being asked several years ago to take on the project by Caroline Weber, Dewey’s wife and business partner.
At 215 pages, the book is set to be published on Sept. 20.
Malibu Patch: You spent four years researching, writing and putting together Little Man On Wheels: Surfing Legend Dewey Weber. What surprised you most about Dewey Weber, one of Malibu's surfing superstars in the 1960s?
Jerry Derloshon: What surprised me most was Dewey’s competitive drive. He dominated anything he put his mind to – national Yo-yo champion (3x) as a youth; 3x high school wrestling state champion and four-year varsity letterman; a trick-riding unicyclist, and then finally, feats as a surfer and a surfboard maker – by far, as Malibu local Lance Carson said, “the sport’s neon sign.” He was truly surfing’s first superstar.
Malibu Patch: What impact did Dewey have on Southern California surfing culture?
Jerry Derloshon: He epitomized “the surfer look” – white-blond hair, muscled body, and sun tanned, and was among a handful of surfers like The Endless Summer’s Mike Hynson whom surfers and landlubbers wanted to look like and be like. During the early 60s, budding surf magazines and surf films celebrated the ”bleached-blond” lifestyle and it caught on across America. Peroxide sales skyrocketed as brown-headed teenagers nationwide bleached their hair to look like Dewey, Mike, and another blond headed standout surfer at Malibu, Johnny Fain.
Malibu Patch: What lasting legacy does Dewey have on Malibu today?
Jerry Derloshon: The generation of grey beards who watched Dewey surf the Bu, like Hermosa Beach Walk of Fame awardee and retired lifeguard, John Baker, a phenomenal Malibu surfer, even today, says of Dewey riding Malibu, “On a good day, no one could touch him.” Dewey’s legacy lives in still photos and film taken in the era he dominated, and now, in this biography.
Malibu Patch: What drove you to choose this subject?
Jerry Derloshon: In a way it chose me. I was asked many years ago by Caroline Weber, Dewey’s wife and business partner, to be the one to write the biography of the Little Man On Wheels. We’re all getting older so I thought I had better get on it.
Malibu Patch: I understand you plan on donating two of your books to the Malibu Library? What do you hope people get out of the book?
Jerry Derloshon: I hope people who read the book will enjoy this thorough and compelling look at an amazing architect of surf culture – both the best of his life and the worst of his life; his angels and his demons. And ultimately, I hope people will appreciate the impact he had on surfing and on how his legacy endures today.
Malibu Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
Jerry Derloshon: It’s available on Amazon.com, Ebay, and www.littlemanonwheels.com, and a book signing is planned for Diesel Bookstore in Malibu this fall.