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Peter Stringfellow: Les Best of Hatters Hall in Faversham pays tribute

By Anna MacSwan

A Faversham record shop owner who worked with Peter Stringfellow during the nightclub owner's heyday has described him someone who was 'everyone's friend' and 'always there for you'.

Les Best, who owns Hatters Hall in Preston Street and lives in Whitstable, frequented Stringfellows club in Covent Garden during its golden years as a celebrity hangout.

It was Les, a former music manager, who introduced the so-called King of Clubs to the singer Frizzby Fox, then his flatmate, who went on to be his partner for 10 years.

Preston Street, Faversham. Les Best. Picture: Tony Flashman FM4169511 (2432351)
Preston Street, Faversham. Les Best. Picture: Tony Flashman FM4169511 (2432351)

He said the news of Peter's death from cancer at the age of 77 had come as a shock.

"I got the news about 6.45 this morning. I knew he hadn't been too good, but I didn't think it was fatal," he said.

The pair worked together for eight years during the legendary club's early years, where Les, who has promoted David Bowie, Roxy Music and Robert Palmer, helped to look after guests.

They were introduced in the early 1980s through mutual friend Billy Shears, who knew Peter, the son of a steelworker, from Sheffield.

Paying tribute to his love of partying, Les said: "He introduced me to so many people, everyone from royalty to every star under the sun."

"He was very businesslike, but at the same time, was a big fun guy. One time, I was about to leave Stringfellows, and he said you can't, there are only six people left in this place and it's the last night of the Bunny Club. We ended up partying all night.

"I met Ronnie Wood from the Stones, I met Lady Di and her brother Charles, a friend of mine through him was Joe Frazier, the boxer. I just met so many people through Peter because all the celebrities wanted to be at the club.

"I was involved for all the heyday years. I've had breakfast at six in the morning with him, with champagne, and scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.

"There were nights when he took over the Hippodrome and we had amazing parties there. One night we were there and it became my birthday, so he put a party on, which must have cost £2-3,000, in appreciation for me helping him out."

Peter Stringfellow (2436109)
Peter Stringfellow (2436109)

He has particularly fond memories of going to Boxing Day parties at Peter's flat in a converted church in Hampstead Heath.

"You expect it to be the down part of Christmas but it all became one big party.

"He was really charismatic. He just became everyone's friend really quickly.

"My memories are that he was always there for you. He would party with you and along with you and make you feel amazing."

Another is how Peter would phone Les's mother, Elsie, each year on October 17, their shared birthday.

Peter, who was widely known as a ladies' man, went on to open clubs in Paris, New York, Miami and Beverley Hills, and booked acts including the Beatles, Kinks and Jimi Hendrix to play at his clubs.

"I stayed in touch right the way through until about three years ago. I didn't go to the lapdance club as much because it wasn't my sort of thing, but we stayed in touch in general," Les said.

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