Publisher and journalist who played pivotal role in music business
JOHN COUGHLAN:John Coughlan, impresario, publisher and journalist, who has died aged 69, played a pivotal role in Ireland’s music and entertainment business from the 1960s to the 1990s and was an influential travel writer until shortly before his death.
As managing editor of Spotlight, Ireland’s first dedicated music magazine, he kept fans informed about the showband era, feeding their insatiable appetite for intimate details about Irish acts, publishing updates on the rock, cabaret and folk scenes, and gradually increasing coverage of global pop music. By the early 1970s it had a circulation of 47,000 and was the acknowledged bible of the Irish music industry.
Coughlan, who was born in Cork, was educated at the Christian Brothers College in the city.
He followed in the footsteps of his late father, Stephen, a former news editor of the then Cork Examiner, joining the paper on leaving school. It was not long, however, before his interest in music and travel drew him to Dublin, where in 1963 he launched Spotlight.
Having formed an alliance with the Creation Group under publisher Hugh McLaughlin, he was attributed with conceiving the idea of the Sunday World, in which he was an investor. When Creation went into liquidation in 1977, Coughlan bought the rights to Spotlight. Relaunching it as New Spotlight but later changing the title to Starlight, he published it for a further five years.
Besides spending more than 50 years in journalism, he organised many concerts around the country featuring national and international stars.
Diversifying into the travel sector, Coughlan launched an annual guide, Holiday Ireland. The last issue was published shortly after he fell ill some months ago.
He is survived by his wife Margaret, sons Johnny and Stephen, daughter Louise, mother Eileen, brothers David and Barry, and grandchildren.