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New Book Explores Life of Malibu's 'Little Man on Wheels'

The biography, written by Jerry Derloshon, tells the stories of surfing icon Dewey Weber, one of Malibu's superstars in the 1960s.

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.

Shelley Merrick September 16, 2012 at 03:23 PM
CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you Jerry. As one of Dewey's first team riders and his second woman rider (Rosemari Reimers-Rice) was the first, let me be the first to congratulate you on the publication of "Little Man on Wheels". Along with riding on Dewey's team I had the opportunity to work in his shop in Venice. To this day the sound of routers and the smell of resin takes me back to that wonderful time in surfing history. Many nights the entire Weber crew would leave work and head to my home at Latigo Point. The neighbors and surfers alike would watch in awe as Dewey showcased his unmistakable and beautiful surfing style. While home for my Father's memorial two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to surf Malibu on a quiet Monday morning. A friend loaned me a board...a pre-performer 9'8" Weber! My surf session was magic. It was an honor to know, and to surf and work for Dewey. I can't wait to read the book and slip into a time and place I will never forget. Mahalo, Shelley
Jessica E. Davis September 16, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Thanks for sharing such a wonderful memory, Shelley.
John Mazza September 16, 2012 at 08:13 PM
On Saturday Sept 29 there will be a book signing at the Surfing Heritage Foundation that will include famous surfers Greg Knoll, Skip Frey,Linda Benson,Kemp Aaberg,Mike Tabeling, Shea Weber and others. There will also be an exhibit I have sponsored of Dewey Weber that will run through November 30. If you wish to attend check out their web site http://www.surfingheritage.org/
M Stanley September 17, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Congratulations to Jerry and also to Dewey's wife Caroline, and sons Shea and Corey. This has been a long time in the making, thanks to all involved for continuing the legacy and ensuring future surfers have a detailed biography to inspire and guide them. Chair of Surfing @ Pepperdine seems like a natural given the unsung contributions to CA economy from the sport and surrounding lifestyle that so many identify with So Cal and especially with Malibu. I hope this book signals one more step towards elevating the sport of surfing and bashing old stereotypes.

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