Sheffield-born nightclub king Peter Stringfellow kept cancer battle secret

Peter Stringfellow and his wife, Bella
Peter Stringfellow and his wife, Bella

Sheffield-born nightclub king Peter Stringfellow wanted his battle with cancer kept secret, it has emerged today after he died in the early hours.

The 77-year-old - one of Sheffield's most famous sons - built up a multi-million pound empire after opening clubs across the world.

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Despite spending his early years working in a potted meat factory, a cinema and as a tie salesman, his drive and desire for a better life led to him becoming a nightclub magnate able to attract top acts and a celebrity following.

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At the age of 13, Stringfellow worked at the Wicker Cinema, before becoming a tie salesman at Austin Reed.

He also spent three days as a trainee barber before spending two years sailing in the Merchant Navy as a kitchen galley boy.

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It was in 1962 that the Pitsmoor-born entrepreneur launched his nightclub empire, opening the Black Cat Club in a church hall he rented out in the City Road area.

Among the up and coming bands he booked to perform were The Beatles, who played there in 1963.

He branched out and opened a number of other clubs in the city, including the King Mojo Club and attracted bands and singers including The Who, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Elton John and Jimi Hendrix.

More clubs opened in Leeds and Manchester before he launched his legendary Stringfellows club in Covent Garden, London, in 1980, which became a famous celebrity haunt attracting A-listers including Prince, Marvin Gaye, Rod Stewart and Tom Jones over the years.

He also opened clubs in America and Paris.

With its topless girls and exuberant after-hours entertainment, the Stringfellow brand became a byword for debauchery and sexual kicks.

Stringfellow's 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 said his London club will continue to operate 'as normal'.

Married three times and a grandfather four times over, Stringfellow is survived by his wife, Bella and four children, Karen, Scott, Rosabella and Angelo.

Mr Glass added: "He leaves behind his beloved wife, Bella and four children, Karen, Scott, Rosabella and Angelo. He was also grandfather to Taylor, Jaime, Thomas and Isabelle.

"Known as the King of Clubs, Peter will be remembered for his flamboyant style, charismatic personality and for being a magnet for celebrities across the planet, with A-list stars across six decades flocking to perform and party at his various clubs around the world.

"His eponymous London club, on Upper St Martins Lane, is one of the capital’s longest-running nightlife venues after opening in 1980, and will continue to operate as normal."