|The Last Post|
Famed British editorCopyright © 2008
The editor who shepherded Britain's Melody Maker through its evolution from popular music journal to the publication-of-record for the rock era, Jack Hutton died of lung disease at the age of 80.
Although he was born in Australia, Hutton grew up in Dundee, Scotland, and was a proud Scot throughout his life.
He became a journalist at 15, working at the publishing house of D.C. Thomson for papers that included The Hotspur, Dandy and Beano. After serving in the Royal Air Force in France -- during which time he began playing the trumpet -- he returned to Dundee to work on The Sunday Post. At the paper he met Joyce Fisker, and the two of them opened the Dundee Jazz Club. They married in 1953.
In 1954, the couple moved to London, where Hutton was hired as a reporter by Melody Maker -- a 26-year-old music weekly whose subject matter included jazz, dance music and popular artists like Charlie Chaplin and Sammy Davis Jr. In the early '60s, Hutton championed the so-called trad jazz revival in Britain, but he also had his ear on the rise of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Hutton was named editor of Melody Maker in October 1962, and he quickly set about re-designing the paper to present a more youth-oriented image, spurred on by competition from its rival, New Musical Express.
Under Hutton's leadership, the paper provided extensive coverage of the British Invasion and later developments like The Who, Cream and Jimi Hendrix, but it also retained its jazz focus with critic Max Jones.
Hutton left Melody Maker in 1970 to start a new weekly, Sounds, and build a small empire of specialty journals that included Kerrang!, Music Week and Popswap.
He retired from Spotlight Publications in 1987 and devoted much of his time to performing with The Codgers, a group of friends who were trad jazz fans. He was forced to give up the trumpet in 2003, when he was diagnosed with tubercular meningitis. He was working on a book of memoirs when he developed a fatal chest infection.
Hutton is survived by his wife of 55 years and their two daughters.