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Peter Stringfellow dies aged 77

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Nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow has died at the age of 77, a spokesman has said.

The businessman, who had cancer which he had kept private, died in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The so-called King of Clubs opened many venues around the world and his eponymous club in London’s West End became a magnet for celebrities.

The Beatles, The Kinks and Jimi Hendrix were among those he booked in his six decades in the industry.

His family have asked for privacy. He leaves behind his wife, Bella, and four children.

His publicist, Matt Glass said: “It’s very sad news. He passed away in the early hours of this morning. It was kept very private, he didn’t want to tell. He wanted to keep it a secret.”

He added that the Stringfellows club in Covent Garden will continue to operate “as normal”.

Former boxing champion Frank Bruno was among those to pay tribute, describing him as “a great guy and king of the discos”.

BBC Radio presenter Tony Blackburn tweeted: “He was a terrific guy who lived life to the full and was a wonderful person to be with. He was always full of fun and, to me, was a big part of the 60s and 70s.”

Comedy actress Su Pollard, who worked with him, said he was “a fantastic role model for other entrepreneurs”, adding that she liked him because “he was always warm”.

Stringfellow underwent treatment for lung cancer after being diagnosed in 2008.

However, he only told family and close friends and kept the diagnosis a secret for nearly six years – until it was leaked in 2015.

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Image caption Peter Stringfellow at the Bacardi London Club and Bar Awards in 2001

Son of a Sheffield steelworker, Stringfellow started in the night-time trade in the early 1960s and held normal music nights until the 1980s.

In 1980 he opened Stringfellows in Covent Garden, describing it as the world’s premier gentleman’s club, and it has become one of the capital’s longest-running nightlife venues.

“I went to a strip club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the 80s and loved it,” he said. “I then immediately opened up Stringfellows New York and it became a great success as I changed it to a strip club.”

He then went on to launch venues in Miami, Beverly Hills and Paris and the Stringfellow brand became known for its topless girls and after-hours entertainment.

The strip club pioneer said his clubs had hosted stars including Prince, Rod Stewart, Marvin Gaye and Tom Jones – while Professor Stephen Hawking also joined him for dinner at one of the venues.

However, his success didn’t come without any pitfalls. His clubs in Miami and Los Angles were a disaster and put him in huge debt.

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Media captionPeter Stringfellow tells 5 live: “The girls have always been very clever”

Stringfellow described the legacy of his lap dancing clubs as having been “a positive force in terms of our sexual attitudes”.

He said: “These clubs broke down the fear a lot of people have about sex.”

He was known as a ladies’ man but would neither confirm nor deny claims that he had slept with more than 3,000 women.

His behaviour, often described as outrageous, earned him critics and in 2003 he was voted by Channel 4 viewers as the 18th worst Briton.

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Media captionPeter Stringfellow and Mary Beard talk feminism

Born in Sheffield in 1940, Stringfellow was the eldest of four boys and they were raised by the women in his family after the men went to war.

He left school at the age of 15 and ended up in the British Merchant Navy, travelling the world aged 17.

In 1962 he served a brief prison sentence for selling stolen carpets, which he said was a sharp lesson which put him on the straight and narrow.

In an article for the Guardian in 2012 he attributed his entrepreneurial spirit to his “feisty” mother.

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Image caption Peter Stringfellow and wife Bella, who quit the Royal Ballet to become a lap dancer at Stringfellows

However, he didn’t describe himself as a businessman. “First of all I’m not a businessman, I’m just a bloody good club owner. I’m very autocratic and have a very good team but ultimately I make the final decision.”

Married three times and a grandfather four times over, Stringfellow married former lap dancer Bella – 41 years his junior – in 2009.

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Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44394076

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