Hawaiian set the standard for radical skate-inspired surfing in the 1970s
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 2 November, 2013 : - - Over the clicking of a celluloid reel, a stiff narrator says about Montgomery “Buttons” Kaluhiokalani "Sometimes his surfing is so radical, it makes him look like a wizard casting spells over the waves." Today at age 54 Buttons passed as a result of complications related to lung cancer.
In the 1970s Buttons, along with Mark Liddell and Larry Bertlemann took the shortboard revolution to the next level with radical skate-inspired maneuvers. Buttons polished his act with switch-stance off-the-lips, 360s and laybacks - moves that were incredibly futuristic at the time.
According to the Encyclopedia of Surfing:
Kaluhiokalani began surfing at age nine; at 15 he placed second to future world tour powerhouse Dane Kealoha in the boys' division of the state titles, and also finished second in the United States Surfing Championships. He shot to prominence in 1975, when he and surfing partner Mark Liddell, riding their new split-rail Ben Aipa-shaped stinger boards, set a new high-performance standard in small waves.
Like Larry Bertlemann before him, Kaluhiokalani had spring-loaded legs and a riding style that was at once flamboyant and smooth. More so than Bertlemann—or virtually any surfer aside from eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater—Kaluhiokalani was spontaneous and innovative, stringing together turns, cutbacks, tuberides, tailslides, and 360s with offhanded genius.
Apart from his surfing, Kaluhiokalani was known for his sun-tinged afro (he once described himself as "half-Hawaiian, half black, a little bit Chinese"), and his chattering, laughing, often manic personality. He wore a curly blond wig for a surf magazine portrait shot, and ate sand in a brief but memorable surf movie clip.