About Rivethead Magazine:
Rivethead Magazine has never been the sole production of any one particular individual, but if anyone is to receive credit for our existence at all it would have to be our Founding Editor Lisa E. Sullivan. Our staff roster was composed of some of the most legendary names in Houston music of the times, and Houston music journalism. Currently, we are Andrew C. Schlett, Managing Editor, Lisa E. Sullivan, Founding Editor, and Wendy Jasper, longtime staffer and the closest thing we have to a real rock journalist.
The Official Rivethead Magazine Website is dedicated to preserving the original vision and mission of Lisa, and also to the memory of our lost brothers and staffers Joe Claytor, Bill “The Master” Bates, and Wes Weaver. Rest in peace gentlemen. Please smile down upon our efforts!
The Story of Rivethead (in the five years spanning 1988-1993)
Early in the autumn of 1988 a young lady named Lisa E. Sullivan sat down in her bedroom and set out to writing a newsletter about her little group of musician friends and the activities of their bands. She xeroxed off some copies and passed them out to everybody she knew. October 1988 saw the release of the first of these newsletters, titled “The Rivethead” and the second came out in December. Although 1988 produced only these two newsletters, the seeds sown in the fall of this year would grow into a major music publication and thrive all the way up until almost the mid 90’s. Bless you Lisa, for your vision, for your ambition, for your drive, and for your vast success with Rivethead!
1989 was a year of tremendous growth and many firsts for Rivethead. In February we published our first ever hard-copy printing press edition, stepping up the game from Lisa E’s original typewritten newsletter. A photo of Metallica graced that first cover; thankfully they did not sue us, so we followed up in March with Queensryche. Our first all-original hand-drawn showcase cover art appeared in July, with Tod Waters being the first artist to debut on the front page of Rivethead. September brought the First Anniversary Issue and as the year progressed, so too did the size of both our staff and our reach.
As Rivethead became more and more recognizable, more and more well known, more writers wanted to write for us and more musicians wanted to appear in our pages. The ensuing years would bring a series of very big-name Rivethead interviews, and artwork, but this all started in 1989.
The seeds planted in 1988 had spent all of 1989 growing, maturing, and filling out into the full splendor that Rivethead was very close to realizing. 1990 brought thicker and more well-composed actual newspapers than we had been doing up till this point. Our staff roster swelled to unparalleled numbers and our journalistic reach expanded to start covering this entire region, not just the inner 610 Loop Houston area. With Lisa E. Sullivan’s steady hand at the helm, our circulation numbers skyrocketed and by the end of this year we had already hit the 10,000 copies per month mark. Having your own original artwork on the cover of Rivethead became a thing to be coveted, and sought after. Appearing in our pages guaranteed that your band was going to be heard of by somebody. But even more, we found ourselves providing a sort of cohesiveness to the Houston underground music scene which it had heretofore lacked; through our very existence as a local music publication we were able to provide focus, quality content, and exposure just by getting the issues out there. We were from the underground, by the underground, and for the underground and we knew it. Other papers tried — Public News now and then got their hands dirty, the Houston Post sent scene reporter Claudia Perry around to a few shows, and this new upstart paper back then called the Houston Press would occasionally come out to the Axiom — but by and large we alone were the print voice of our musical community. Of course we continued to cover world-famous touring bands, attracting bigger and bigger names as time went on. We celebrated our 2nd Anniversary with an enormous two-month Sept/Oct blowout edition, took a quick little rest, and got back to work in November. By the close of 1990 Rivethead had become an undeniable force in Houston music, and 1991 lay ahead of us like a vast uncharted ocean.
As 1990 drew to a close and 1991 began, the upward growth of Rivethead continued at an astounding pace. Looking back from the distance of almost a few decades now, 1991 proved to be the year of dominance for our little paper. Our distribution numbers soared, the size of the paper itself usually ran about 32 pages each, our local and national coverage continued to be unparalleled, our rock photography was totally unmatched, and more advertisers than ever were interested in appearing in our editions. Our journalistic output reached a fevered peak in 1991, we added color to our covers, our artwork continued to be first-rate, and our staff rosters continuously listed names which, today, are legendary in H-town. 1991 proved to be the top of the mountain for Rivethead. Everything we had been working toward in the three previous years came into full fruition and we were not to be stopped. Late in 1991, just after the release of our 3rd Anniversary edition, Lisa E. Sullivan sold the entire thing to Rivethead Enterprises, a collective entity composed of the late Joe Claytor, Keith and Cindy Venatta, and Mark McGregor Wright. They installed Gene Bartholomew as Executive Editor and kept the Rivethead train rolling. By the end of 1991 our apex had been reached, and there were only 1992 yet to come.
If 1991 saw us reach the summit of the mountain, it was in 1992 that we started down the other side. As all natural things must run their course and eventually fade away, so it was also to be with Rivethead. This process was gradual and largely unnoticed at the time. In the beginning of ’92 we still had it going on, the issues continued to be large, the staff rosters lengthy and star-studded, we had color in virtually every issue and we were interviewing some of the biggest rock names yet while still keeping our ear to the local underground. Over the course of this year, though, things began to change. The dedicated drive and commitment which Lisa E. had brought to the paper seemed to wane in her absence. It was in 1992 that we started skipping over some months; our publishing schedule became erratic, and the public could no longer be sure that there would be a new issue on the stands by the 3rd of each month. In fact, only eight issues were published this year. As a result, interest started to fizzle among advertisers and the general public. At one point during this year, Rivethead was being put together in an upstairs office at the Axiom — a beloved place but one where distraction was rampant and linear focus very hard to achieve. Our 4th Anniversary Issue, although thick with heavy-hitting rock journalism and stellar photography, was published with the sparsest of staff rosters. The confidence, drive, and sense of purpose we had carried with us all these years began to fade, and as we entered 1993 the best thing that could be said of Rivethead is that we had very recently been great.
And there you have it. To the best of our recent editorial knowledge, the only issue of Rivethead to be published in 1993 was Issue #46 in January. If anybody out there has any issues beyond that — these may or may not even exist — please let us know. During this year Joe Claytor struck out on his own with a short-lived spin-off publication called “Riveted”, but it was not the same and never gained the widespread acceptance or circulation numbers that Rivethead had enjoyed. Our beloved little rock paper, which once had ruled the world, or at least our inner-loop Houston scene, simply faded away into obscurity and ceased to exist. Forgotten for many years, the Rivethead name would rest in peace for nearly two decades until one day in 2010 when Lisa E., recently divorced and looking to find her own identity again, dug it up, dusted it off, and established the Rivethead Facebook page. From there this website was born. Our new digital version is nothing like our old hard-copy paper was, but we still love it, and if you have come this far through the website and these Archives, then probably you do too. Thank you, dear readers, for giving us a reason to carry on.