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