Tributes to ‘King of Clubs’ Peter Stringfellow as nightclub owner dies at 77
Su Pollard says owner of topless dancers venue was 'a fantastic role model for other entrepreneurs'
08 June, 2018 — By Richard Osley
SHOWBIZ friends were yesterday (Thursday) paying tribute to Peter Stringfellow after the West End nightclub owner died aged 77.
The so-called “King of Clubs” had run his main venue in Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, since the 1980s, attracting a celebrity clientele and commanding high-profile publicity. His penchant for flamboyant clothes – he was teased for wearing leopard print – and lion’s mane hair made for an unmistakable character and he often made television appearances during the 1990s.
DJ Tony Blackburn said: “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 1960s and 1970s.” Ex-boxer Frank Bruno described him as the “king of the discos”, while Hi-de-Hi! actress Su Pollard told the BBC that he had been a “warm” man who had been “a fantastic role model for other entrepreneurs”.
He was criticised for being at the helm of what was to become one of the best-known venues for topless dancers and the view that he had built his fame on objectifying women. “I don’t want anyone coming into my clubs thinking they are going to get a sexual encounter,” he said in one interview. “Of course it’s sexually stimulating, but so is a disco, so is a pretty girl. So is David Beckham with his gear on. So are the Chippendales.” In another, he said the “gentleman’s club” had been “a positive force in terms of our sexual attitudes”.
Stringfellow had begun a career as a nightlife promoter in his home town of Sheffield in the 1960s and booked The Beatles to perform at the Azena Ballroom. As well as the Covent Garden venue, he opened clubs in Paris, New York, Miami and Beverly Hills with varying success. In 2006 he opened Angels, another adult entertainment club, in Soho. He had been treated for lung cancer.
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.” The club would continue to operate as normal, he added.
Meanwhile, anecdotes about the club owner were being shared online. Comedian David Baddiel said: “I met Peter Stringfellow once. He had a sense of humour beyond the haircut. “I asked him what he’d be doing if he hadn’t ended up running strip clubs. He said: “Two words: benefit fraud.”