the history of

I had already published the first two issues of Thrust Magazine and was hanging backstage passes around my neck as quickly as inconspicuous and unmarked tour buses could shuttle rock-n-roll bands into town for a club date, an opening set, or if they were lucky, a headline gig. One of these free invitations is what brought Sandie, Blackie, and me backstage to a Billy Squier/Kings X/L.A. Guns concert on Friday, December 15, 1989.

I had devised a method to introduce Thrust Magazine to the 7,000 + fans who filled the concert arena, but I needed a lead singer or guitarist of one of the three bands to agree to my shenanigans. The secret weapon—a Thrust Magazine t-shirt—I needed one of them to wear it on stage during its encore.

Billy Squier was unapproachable—he was already a rock star with a nine-year career on Capitol Records, three consecutive platinum albums, and a run of hits, including “The Stroke,”“Everybody Wants One,” and “Rock Me Tonite.” We weren’t allowed near him.

Kings X went on stage first. At the time, I would have been satisfied with its lead singer and bass player Dug Pinnick donning a Thrust Magazine t-shirt for me and for the crowd, but in retrospect, I’m pleased I didn’t waste the execution of my plan too early—not everybody with tickets had arrived into the arena—the seats weren’t full yet.

That meant my only choice for the plan was to secure the help of L.A. Guns, a Hollywood-based sleaze-rock band that had just released its second album, “Cocked and Loaded,” and its video for the single, “Ballad of Jane,” was in A-list rotation on Mtv. Though my idea was for lead guitarist Tracii Gunns to advertise Thrust Magazine to the crowd onstage, Blackie was a big fan of lead singer Phil Lewis (from his previous band “Girl,”) and was eager to meet-and-greet him one-on-one. Using her backstage pass to bypass the venue’s security force, she retreated to the band’s private preshow vestibule for negotiations. When she returned to the stage-left side stage, where I was seated on some roadie gear cases, she told me, “Phil promises he will wear the Thrust Magazine t-shirt onstage.”

Truth be told, I expected Phil to wear my Thrust Magazine t-shirt for one song, and then take it off and go shirtless or change wardrobe mid-set. Was I ever surprised when he wore it throughout the entire set! That night I knew Thrust Magazine was on its way to stardom.

Days later, when Sandie and I laughed about how lucky we were, I told her I couldn’t have bought a billboard on Los Angeles’ Hollywood Blvd. and gotten better publicity for Thrust Magazine than I did that night with L.A. Guns. Though Thrust Magazine’s mission was to thrust fresh bands like L.A. Guns into the public’s eye, L.A. Guns gave Thrust Magazine the thrust it needed, when it needed it. It was a favor I would repay the band a year-and-a-half later when it released its follow-up album, “Hollywood Vampires,” by putting the band on the cover in July 1991.

During the Billy Squier/Kings X/L.A. Guns concert, a second significant event helped change the course of Thrust Magazine’s future. A fledgling writer/photographer named DJ Justice introduced himself to me and asked me if I was interested in taking a look at his portfolio, which he somehow had managed to sneak backstage. I was impressed with his unorthodox method of self-promotion—I had never seen a journalist take his entire portfolio to a concert—but more than that, I was allured by his ability to clearly articulate his ideas and his rock-n-roll passions. It was for that reason—much more so than his professional portfolio—that I invited him to an job interview at my office under less cacophonous conditions.

DJ didn’t have to twist my arm much to prove he was destined to join my team. I quickly learned that he had many talents—not just band interviews and photography, but promotions, mc’ing, and band relations. After I told him he was hired, he asked me how his name and job-title would be listed in the magazine. I told him he was my “Right Hand Dude,” and that’s exactly the title he got in the staff listing below the masthead. Though he only stayed with Thrust Magazine for one-and-a-half-years, some of my fondest memories of DJ are teaching him how to write the introduction (or “deck” of the story, as we called it) so that it flowed seamlessly into the feature story or band interview. Our readers really enjoyed his work, too—first as a contributing writer, then my assistant editor, and finally a full-fledged contributing editor to the magazine.

Go to History of Thrust Magazine Part 3


L.A. Guns lead singer Phil Lewis helps give Thrust Magazine a thrust by wearing its official T-shirt on stage in Tampa, Florida, on Friday, December, 15, 1989.

Two days later, Thrust Magazine founder/publisher/editor Christopher R. Phillips and co-founder Sandie Olmsted smile for the fans at the Thrust/Al Koehn Holiday Bash at the Ritz Theater in Ybor City, Florida, on Sunday, December 17, 1989.

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