When weathered skaters tell tales of Uncle Freddy, we often speak of his appetite for excess, his unexpected longevity, and his undeniable likability. Skate folklore yarns are spun of daring rescues from burning buildings and wallride attempts on moving vehicles. He is part action hero, part comic relief, and all skateboarding legend.
It is near impossible to quantify the impact he has had on skateboarding lo these many years. But once we look past the hedonism and the heroism, what we can quantify are the skate clips themselves. What emerges from the data is a portrait of a cradle-to-grave skater who advanced switch tech-gnar progre ssion on two coasts before becoming the archetype of an entire genre of skating loosely defined as “crust”. So set down your bondo and crack a cold one if that’s your thing… it’s time to crunch the numbers on Fred Fuckin’ Gall.
All The Gall
All the parts logged for this article along with dozens of other clips, pictures, links, and commentary from Freddy can be found in the series of All the Gall blog posts on the Warm Up Zone blog. We also highly recommend the thorough Chrome Ball Incident and Bobshirt Interviews with Freddy.
Looking at the chart of Freddy’s top tricks over the entirety of his career, we aren’t confronted with many
surprises. Ollies top
the list, be they over obstacle, on flat, or off some sort of launch, with over 50% of those being landed into some
sort of embankment. As we scroll down the list, we see all the familiar Freddy moves one would expect: Backside
wallrides, treflips, frontside 50s, switch frontside 180s, and backside 360s.
If we were to group similar tricks together, it is interesting that some maneuvers rise in the rankings. When all wallride variations are combined (and there were 22 unique variations of wallrides) it’s tops at 52 instances, a hefty 7% of his entire trick output. Also of note is that Fred only recorded 5 straight up frontside 5-0 grinds (switch and normal combined); but when we total up all variations that include a frontside 5-0 component (such as the popular switch frontside 180 to frontside 5-0), it is one of his more signature tricks with 24 occurrences.
Fred's Least Favorites
What you aren’t seeing in the chart above are the tricks that Freddy just didn’t do that often, or ever. And some of
those might surprise you.
We chatted with Freddy and mentioned some of these missing tricks.
- Smith Grinds - nearly 700 tricks and the only thing even resembling a smith grind is a
stall in a pool. Says Fred: “I had one smith grind ever in my entire life. It was a back smith down the Phoenix
Hubba and it was in a Habitat tour section of a video or something.”
- Hardflips - Unless we’re talking nollie, there aren’t any to be found.And the nollie ones
dried up significantly after Photosynthesis.
- FS Crooked Grinds - Not once. Ever. Says Fred: “I can’t do those to save my life.”
- Fakie flip tricks - when it comes to fakie flip tricks, Freddy just dabbled here and
kickflips, fakie heelflips, and fakie 360flips only happened once each.
Switch 50-50s - Freddy’s switch 50-50 on a handrail at Philadelphia’s City Hall is somewhat legendary, but
we couldn’t find a photo or clip of it anywhere. Says Fred: “It's in Thrasher: On The Road. You will find that
there. I have kinda a little part in there.” Since that video isn’t part of our dataset, there are zero switch
50-50 grinds anywhere. None. Says Fred: “I really didn’t switch 50 unless it’s a rail.”
- Nollie kickflips - "Nope."
- Pressure flips - Make no mistake; Those are inward heelflips. Says Fred: “Dude, no way
would I do a
OBSTACLES OVER TIME
A Tale of Two Freddys: When we line everything up chronologically a
picture quickly emerges of two distinct phases of
the career of Fred Gall with the birth of Habitat serving as a delineator between epochs. On one side we have young
Alien Fred: Featuring tricks in 14 videos through the first decade of his career, this starts with the
Brotherhood video from 1991 and continues through Photosynthesis in 2000 (and I’m including the 4 tricks in Danny
Minnick’s 2001 Collage video in there too). On latter side we have old dirty Habitat Freddy skating in 17
Habitat’s Mosaic in 2003 through an online OJ Wheels part in 2015. The distinct features of the transformation
eras would be the Transition to Transition and the Rise of Crust.
The Transition to Transition: It should come as no shock that as Fred Gall aged, a fetish for the transitions developed. In fact, if one disregards the tricks on the miniramp in Granny’s driveway and Brick Town Park during the Tracker years (plus Philadelphia’s Afro Banks), Alien Fred almost exclusively skates surfaces with hard angles. But from Mosaic onward, over 27% of Freddy’s tricks are done on some type of transition. Fred’s most recent part from 2015 featured 56% transition tricks.
The Evolution of Crust
A Note on Crust: We thought it relevant to record if the trick is at a spot or obstacle that should be defined as “crust”. Considerations towards “crustiness” can include roughness of ground, dilapidation of surrounding architecture, presence of overgrown foliage, necessity of Bondo or Quikcrete, and overall shittyness of the obstacle. When we reached out to Fred and asked him how he would define crust, he simply replied, “It’s like something that people wouldn’t skate”.
The Rise of Crust: Nowadays, Freddy’s skating is synonymous with rugged, dilapidated, shit obstacles. But it wasn’t always so. When all the Gall is taken into account, we are only looking at crust about 25% of the time. If this number seems low, that is almost entirely based on the fact Fred didn’t even start to taste crust until Timecode, and even then it was just that crazy Philadelphia Underground spot. In fact, Alien Fred’s videos only hit the crust an average of 2.8% of the time. Contrast that to Habitat Freddy, who crusted it up 34% of the time. And this trend continues crustwards, with a solid 50% crust in his six video appearances since 2012, peaking out with harsh 82% of tricks qualifying as “on crust” in his most recent part for OJs from 2015.
Some Video Numbers
The table above includes all the videos logged for this analysis along with a small sampling of the many, many
that can be tracked from the data. Some correlations remained consistent, such as the length of the video and the
of lines included; Other observations, such as the strange spike in clips featuring one of both pant legs cinched
are just baffling on a bunch of levels. While the wallride trend, which Freddy launched with a monster kickflip to
backside variation that landed him on the cover of Transworld, took
prominence in the middle portion of his
career, flip tricks (in which we include all variations including impossibles and shove-its) have remained
present even as his taste for transition has grown over the years.
Percentage of ...
Another way to compare how Freddy’s output differs with each part is to compare the distribution of various metrics across them. Each block in the chart below is made up of one-hundred squares, each representing one percent. Click on the videos below to see the percentage of each metric in the selected video. Some observations we saw in this data:
- No SlowMo: For whatever reason Freddy’s skating is rarely presented in slow motion. In fact there are just 12 slow-mo tricks in his entire catalog. If you take Eastern Exposure 3 out of the mix, you’re watching Freddy at regular speed nearly 99% of the time. For comparison, 17% of Jim Greco’s career tricks have been in slow motion.
- All Sides: When it comes to lips, ledges, or spinning rotation, Fred shows no favorites and only does things frontside 7.9% more often than backside.
- Manny-Busters: Fred Gall keeps all four wheels on the ground (or wall). There were only 3 wheelies total… all of nose variety.
- Switching It Up: Overall, Freddy attacked switch (or nollie) about 27% of the time. But this is heavily skewed towards the earlier part of his career. From Eastern Exposure 2 (1994) through Photosynthesis (2000), 47.5% of his tricks were started switch or nollie. This fell off a good deal for the latter portion of his career as post-Photosynthesis Habitat Freddy averages a 15.4% switch/nollie rate. (Note: this doesn’t include tricks that start in normal stance but are executed mostly switch (such as this fabulous backside 180 to switch backside 5-0 in SF).
Click around and see what other of Freddy’s secrets can be revealed.
- 694 - Tricks logged for this article
- 185 - Tricks done on a ledge of some sort - that’s 26.7%
- 123 - Unique ledge tricks
- 82 - Total number of lines
- 76 - Tricks where Fred landed into some kind of embankment
- 68 - Sum of all blunts (slides, stalls, ledges, transition, nose, switch, and otherwise)
- 52 - Combined tricks on banked ledges and bank to ledges
- 35 - Unique variations of 5-0 grinds
- 30 - Number of tricks filmed at Love Park in the 1990s
- 0 - Number of tricks filmed at Love Park after the year 2000
- 26 - Slams (not including when Fred intentionally lands in water)
- 19 - 360flips, not including fakie, nollie, or switch
- 16 - 360flips as part of a line. Says Fred: “Yeah. The go-to trick.”
- 1 - Nollie 360flips
- 16 - Total tricks done on hubbas
- 12 - Unique tricks done on hubbas
- 3 - Tricks done on Hubba Hideout
- 15 - Tricks done with one or both pant legs cinched up
- 15 - Clips of Freddy breaking stuff (Includes blowing things up with explosives)
- 11 - Tricks filmed with that long, luxurious hair flowing. Says Fred: “I just
randomly and then
filmers would be like ‘Yo. Do this one with your hair down. It’ll just look cool.’ So that’s how that works.”
- 8 (Or something like that) - number of beers drank before Wawa hoagies
- 5 - Switch kickflips
- 4 - Nosebluntslides total - and only 1 was on transition
- 3 - Number of Black Sabbath songs. Says Fred: “I’m fully into that shit.”
- 2 - Times Fred is nearly hit by a car on camera
- 1 - Tricks at Burnside
- 0 - Total fucks given
It ain’t over. We have confirmation from Freddy and others that the 2020 clips are stacking
high and there
will be a new
part released through Thrasher before the year’s end. How will this new part fit in with the all the data we just
“It has pretty much everything, except for I’m still trying to get a tech ledge line that I haven’t got yet.”
After discussing all the data with Freddy, we asked him what skater he would like to see analyzed next.
“I don’t know, dude. How ‘bout Andrew Allen?”
Data & Methodology
For this article we logged all of Freddy’s tricks from 31 different skate videos totaling over 63 minutes of footage. Footage from many tour videos, instagram footage compilations, Shorty’s Place compilations, Habitat Field Logs, and stuff we just missed until it was too late were not included.
All efforts were made to remove identical clips that were featured in more than one video (for example: Habitat’s Origins only had 3 tricks that weren’t already logged in Lowcard’s Worst Skater of the Year part). Freddy has had 3 retrospective parts. Of these, Eastern Exposure Zero and the secret part from the Inhabitants DVD were not included. Only tricks from the Dirts Win retrospective that weren’t in other videos were included here.
Thanks to Fred for the insights. Thanks to all the filmers from which we giffed footage. Remember to check the Warm Up Zone for more All the Gall. Follow and interact: @4plymag @warmupzone @freddygall @jdwilbr.
Data and code available here.