Regular visitors to the site will know that some of the best content on Brand New Retro comes from New Spotlight magazine.
Its publisher was John Coughlan who launched Spotlight magazine in Cork in 1963. Issue 1 sold 2,000 copies and as readership grew the format changed to tabloid size and John launched Spotlight as a national pop monthly. Production moved to Dublin in late 1964 and ‘New’ was tagged on to the title. By 1966 New Spotlight had sales of 55,000 with 200,000 readers and in 1967 it went weekly.
Aged 69, John passed away in February 2013.
Below, as a guest post for Brand New Retro, John’s daughter Louise speaks highly of her dad and the days on his first ever magazine.
John Coughlan – A legacy in his own right
It all started in the 60’s when show band music was very big and cropping up all over the place. At the time John was working as a cub reporter in the Cork Examiner with his dad Steve who was Editor in Chief, but he always wanted to start his own music magazine. He approached Murt Lucey and asked if he would like to back him in this new venture, Murt agreed and they became partners. Sales of the magazine exceeded 45,000, so he made the move to Dublin. Soon after John met his wife Margaret and they became the golden couple.
There was a great atmosphere in Spotlight, and Donal Corvin, James Morrissey and Sam Smith were the core workers. John treated his staff very well and one hour lunch would sometimes go on for a few hours. On the first issue Brenda Lee “Little Miss Dynamite” was on the cover.
John met all the big stars of the day including The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Phil Lynott, Roy Orbison, Tom Jones to name but a few. He even presented the Beach Boys with an award.
John was very generous with his time and would often give young writers a break. Donal Corvin interviewed the late Terry Wogan and Roy Esmond took the photographs. Donal also met the famous Peter O’Toole, but unfortunately the article did not make the Spotlight magazine.
John ran a celebrity night every Monday in The Television Club in Harcourt Street where all the stars would attend. He and Margaret would hold court. John was passionate about music and enjoyed networking with the popular music bands.
In the later years, John started another magazine called Starlight, which wasn’t as big a hit as Spotlight. He had a keen interest in travel and went on to publish the successful Holiday Magazine. He liked nothing more than to tend to his garden and so he came up with the idea of Autumn Home and Springclean magazine. These were published in conjunction with the RTE programme Live At Three with Derek Davis and Thelma Mansfield.
John may have passed away over three years ago, but he has given so much inspiration to a lot of people that his legacy will live on.
Photos from Coughlan family collection and New Spotlight.
Check out Louise’s travel blog here