R.I.P. Numbers Owner Robert Burtenshaw, aka DJ Robot

Categories: Gothtopia

This was the empire that Burtenshaw built, a true home to alternative music that in later years has become the last bastion of goth in a city once renowned for it. Others like NRG, Excess, Ocean Club, and Hippo Hyperia, came and went, but Numbers endured.

"Some rich kid who hung out here would see what we were doing and open his own club," Burtenshaw said in a 2003 Houston Chronicle article. "Sometimes they didn't last a year."

Burtenshaw was remembered fondly by Christian Kidd of The Hates. Kidd met Robot when he moved to Houston in the '70s and bought a VHS editor from his friend Dale Brooks in order to learn video production. Robot offered to print flyers for The Hates to help the band save money, and the two would often attend shows together. Bouncers once hurled him out of Agora for handing out Hates flyers, and he was know to heckle opening bands he deemed inappropriate to the show by shouting out, "Play 'Smoke on the Water!'"

Burtenshaw even asked to play bass in The Hates, and was taught their catalog on the instrument until Robert Kainer returned from college to resume the role.

Burtenshaw's obsession with music and especially with video production was groundbreaking in the days before MTV and YouTube. In an apartment stuffed with Art Deco and Marilyn Monroe memorabilia he painstakingly collected music video footage to edit together and present. His legacy of video brilliance still resonates on the two big screens that loom over the Numbers dance floor.

"It really saddens me to hear of his passing," said Kidd. "I cherish the laughs and his love for the music at the time as my passion for the early scene. Now more than ever I regret the lost opportunity that he might have had as a musician. He was such a fan and that could have translated into being a unique artist especially since there was a DIY ethos in our subculture at the time."

Jef With One F is a recovering rock star taking it one day at a time. You can read about his adventures in The Bible Spelled Backwards or connect with him on Facebook.

Location Info



300 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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So sad. I saw Ministry, Book of Love, Erasure, Fron 242 and others. I went so often that the Tow truck guy gave me a free unlimited parking sticker in 1987. RIP.


RIP man, I have been going to numbers since the mid-eighties.  Excellent live venue.  Like Classic Fridays too RIP man!  GREAT PLACE TO GO CHILL!


WoW! Hate to see this. Even though I haven't seen or talked to Robot in over 20 years, the year I spent working at Numbers still holds a special place in my heart. Great guy he was. Rest easy.



beautifully, beautifully written for a valuable soul. 

rest easy, sir.

MadMac topcommenter

RIP. I saw a lot of good shows but I never knew the man behind it.


I haven't been to Numbers in years, but I went there often in my teens and twenties. I fondly remember seeing Jane's Addiction there for only $6. In 1994, I spent many nights there both dancing and cheering on the Rockets as the big screens showed the playoff games while the music of Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, etc. made up the soundtrack.

Burtenshaw is a Houston legend who will be missed.

Susan Joachim Hurta
Susan Joachim Hurta

So sad- brings back some cool memories- - for example, I was once in a crazy fashion show at numbers back in the eighties-great club- amazing that he was there the whole time.

Jonathan Barbeito
Jonathan Barbeito

As a kid growing up in the 90's spring tx you were an outcast if you didn't listen to George straight or Garth Brooks so to find #'s @ the very young age of 14 it was a godsend because it put me in contact with people who were like me, shakers of the norm, I would spend many a night dancing, hanging out upstairs and outside just excited about all the people that shared my love for non top 40 music and a different life than the ones my peers so pressed for. Numbers will always have a special place for me in my heart as a place that help me accept who I am and who I am now. I hope that the rest of the guys there can keep the place around for another generation and maybe when my son is old enough I can hear stories abour his time there.... thank you robert for my church and of course record rack

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