Even the most famous skateboarder in history has to call in a few favors when it comes to collaborating with Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan. Tony Hawk learned this while working on his charity project Boards + Bands, which features musicians painting their famous song lyrics on renowned skateboarders' decks.
Stemming from an idea from Ben Harper -- who's also a board member for the Tony Hawk Foundation -- the charity auction will raise funds for new skateparks around the country. The A-list talent involved? McCartney, Dylan, Tom Petty, Metallica's James Hetfield, Jimmy Cliff and the late Adam Yauch, teaming with skaters Jamie Thomas, Rodney Mullen, Bucky Lasek, Bob Burnquist and more.
"The wish list pack is pretty huge and iconic and it took a lot of connections and phone calls," Hawk tells Spinner. "[Dylan's] came in pretty quickly once the board actually got out. The only one that didn't come through, as far as I know, is Elton John."
Hawk chose to donate the board he used in the first-ever skate exhibition in India. Rather than request a specific song, he let McCartney do the honors. The former Beatle opted for "Blackbird."
"He did his own because I didn't want to impose. I didn't know what his feelings are about certain songs, like if John Lennon was the co-writer, so I just let him go and do whatever he wanted. And I knew that I would love it.
Hawk says he mainly spoke with McCartney's manager and finally met him at a dinner party in L.A. during Grammy week. "It was pretty surreal. I didn't realize they had basically rented the entire restaurant, and so when he arrived and sat down he was sitting with Joe Walsh and Elvis Costello and Johnny Depp was nearby and it was crazy.
"I got to talk to him for a bit. He told me his grandson I think was into skating and he was very cool, very conversational. It was one of those things where obviously everyone's clamoring to get to him even though it was sort of a VIP thing, so I didn't want to hog his time. It was very cool for me. Just in terms of the Beatles, they opened my eyes to music. The first album I bought was Sgt. Pepper's."
Hawk was also excited that Yauch, who died in May following a battle with cancer, was able to participate, writing out the words to the Beastie Boys' "Bodhisattva Vow" over three of Bucky Lasek's boards. MCA also illustrated a fourth board.
"To be honest, from all accounts that I knew, he was in recovery," Hawk says of his late friend. "It didn't sound like they were canceling their tour dates, it sounded like they were postponing them, so I never really thought that it was terminal."
The auction kicked off last night and will run until Thursday, Dec. 13. Hawk, who's currently loving the new Grizzly Bear and Paul Banks albums, says he hopes to raise over six figures (skateparks cost anywhere from $5,000 to over $500,000).
"We're really excited about it. They're going to have to outbid me for the McCartney board, that's all I have to say."