Houston, who passed away last month aged 66, will be remembered for his
contribution to journalism and publishing, and for his gregarious and
He was best known to the public as the face
of Royalty Magazine, but this was the last in a long list of
journalistic and publishing achievements in a career that spanned five
Bob was born on 3 May, 1939, in the Scottish village of
Bailleston, a few miles outside Glasgow. He went to Coatbridge High
School, after which his mother hoped he would enter the civil service.
But his horizons had been broadened and it was journalism that
attracted him. His first job was for the local newspaper, the Airdrie
& Coatbridge Advertiser. It served as an excellent apprenticeship
for when he moved to London in the early 1960s.
In 1963 he was offered a post at the Melody Maker as assistant to the editor.
Welch in The Independent paid tribute to Bob’s contribution to the
famed music journal during its finest days: “He became part of a
legendary teamâ€¦ his imaginative use of bold headlines – for instance,
‘Dylan Digs Donovan’ – encapsulated the mood and events, while Mick
Jagger was shown handcuffed and under arrest.
Houston also helped produce a colour Melody Maker supplement called ‘Music Maker’ and wrote pungent album and concert reviews.”
leaving the Melody Maker in 1970, Bob took up a post close to his
heart, as editor of The Miner, the journal of the National Union of
Mineworkers, as the union re-asserted its national importance in an
historic battle with the Conservative government of Ted Heath.
Mirror columnist Paul Routledge described his role: “Bob, a big,
sociable Scot from a Lanarkshire pit village, articulated the hopes and
fears of the miners and their families in an award-winning tabloid
newspaper that was a credit to his professionalism as well as for the
union. He didn’t do it for the money. He did it because he believed in
what he was doing.”
During his groundbreaking career, Bob also
worked for The Sun and launched his own music journal, Cream. He is
best known, however, for his founding of Royalty Magazine in 1981. With
his experience in all aspects of publishing – Bob could equally turn
his hand to design, writing and editing – he felt the wedding of the
Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer was the ideal opportunity to
launch a new title of his own. His judgement was spot-on, but the
magazine would have been stillborn without the multi-faceted talents of
its founder and editor. For the next 24 years, Royalty was Bob’s
calling card as he forged a strong identity for the magazine.
Bob will be remembered by his family and friends for his warmth and joie de vivre, which never deserted him.