Nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow has died at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer.
The businessman, who had wanted to keep his illness private, died in the early hours of Thursday morning after spending time in hospital, a spokesman said.
His publicist, Matt Glass, told the Press Association: “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.”
His eponymous London club on Covent Garden’s Upper St Martins Lane will continue to operate “as normal”, Mr Glass said.
Stringfellow started in the nighttime trade in the early 1960s and recalled booking acts including The Beatles, The Kinks and Jimi Hendrix to play at his clubs.
In 1980 he opened Stringfellows in Covent Garden in London’s West End and went on to create venues in Paris, New York, Miami, and Beverly Hills.
With its topless girls and exuberant after-hours entertainment, the Stringfellow brand became a byword for debauchery and sexual kicks that echoed of the empire created by late Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner.
The mogul said his clubs had hosted A-listers including Prince, Marvin Gaye, Rod Stewart and Tom Jones.
And it was not just celebrities who experienced Stringfellow’s hospitality - Professor Stephen Hawking once joined him for dinner at one of the venues.
Born in Sheffield in 1940, Stringfellow was the eldest of four boys who were brought up by the women in his family after the men went to war.
He served a brief prison sentence in 1962 for selling stolen carpets, a sharp lesson which he said put him on the straight and narrow.
In a 2012 article for The Guardian he attributed his entrepreneurial spirit to his “feisty” mother.
He said sex was never a topic of conversation in the house, while his father declined an invitation to visit one of his establishments in his later years.
Married three times and a grandfather four times over, Stringfellow is survived by his wife, Bella and four children, Karen, Scott, Rosabella and Angelo.