ESPN Music: tom curren

Tom Curren: From top surfer to musician

September, 18, 2012
9/18/12
10:15
AM ET
Tom CurrenCourtesy of HowardWhether strumming a guitar or drawing out a bottom turn, Curren does it with his style.
For 30 years Tom Curren has been reluctantly thrust on a pedestal. First he was America's answer to Australian world tour dominance in the early 1980s, winning his first two world titles in '85 and '86. Then he walked away from competition life, applying his talents as a soul searching, quasi-mystic stylist that made any dog-of-a-board look amazing (in essence ushering in the retro/fish movement). Then in 1990 he came back from the brink of oblivion to win another world title, assuming the status of dark horse legend.

When asked about what makes him happiest today, his answer was simple and immediate, "Tucking my kids in at night."

He's one of those rare surfers that no matter what he does, no matter how time wears on him (he's now 48), you can't help but direct your attention his way. His style, technique and approach has inspired everyone from Kelly Slater to Mick Fanning to Dane Reynolds to thousands of "normal" surfers around the world.

And while that's all been documented, from an early age Curren had an alternate outlet. He was born with the gift of an astute ear and a natural affinity for melody. Not in love with the spotlight and somewhat introverted, like a lot of musicians, the constructs of rhythm and timing blended with spontaneous improvisation served him well as an outlet for personal expression.

"You have to start with structure, no matter if it's your bottom turn or the timing of a song," told Curren.

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