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13 November 2014

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You are in: South Yorkshire > SY People > Profiles > Peter Stringfellow

Peter Stringfellow being interviewed about the closure of the Mojo club

Peter Stringfellow

Peter Stringfellow, the son of a Sheffield steelworker, has supposedly had hundreds of girlfriends - if not thousands. He's known for having a few pounds in the bank too... We ask him about his life.

Peter Stringfellow, the ladies man and strip club pioneer, has come a long way since his modest upbringing in the steel city of Sheffield. He came into BBC Radio Sheffield in 2008 to speak to Gareth Evans about his life and the famous Mojo Club on Pittsmoor Road in 1960s Sheffield.

Peter and his dog Fune McCool

Peter and his dog Fune McCool

Peter was born in 1940: “I left school when I was 15 years old as it was a waste of time for me. My mum and dad recognised that I was a different kind of guy,” says Peter.

"My dad was a quiet man, born in Sheffield in 1919. I used to ask him why he went straight back to the steelworks after being through Austria, Germany, Italy, Scotland in World War 2, then back to Sheffield and his old job. He said, 'That's what we did, son'."

When he left school, Peter worked as a projectionist at the old Wicker Cinema and then The Regal. Peter recalls his father's views on his career:

Kath, Peter Stringfellow and Jill Saxilby grooving on stage at the Mojo, 1965

Kath, Peter and Jill groove on stage at Mojo, 1965

"He did call me once when I was about 17 and said, 'Son, it's about time you got a proper job'. So I went into English Steelworks down Attercliffe way. I went there for my dad and put my notice in after two weeks. I was there for six weeks. It was a great influence: never go back again!"

Stringfellow speaks to Gareth Evans (Nov 2008)

Peter Stringfellow and his fiancee Bella came to Sheffield in autumn 2008 for the launch of a new book about the art of the King Mojo Club 'and Beyond...'

It was published to raise money for the Sheffield Children's Hospice. Peter came in to BBC Radio Sheffield to speak to Gareth Evans about the book and the success of the Mojo. You can hear the interview by clicking on the link below.

Art on the Mojo nightclub stage

Art on the Mojo nightclub stage

Although Peter and his brothers Paul and Geoffrey moved down to London to find their fortune in the 1980s, many of Peter Stringfellow's family still live in Sheffield:

"My brother Terry stayed up here. We've been to visit Aunty Dorothy and Uncle Patrick, we're going to see Aunt Sybil, Aunt Jean, Uncle Jack... it's nice to know the older family are still around."

The young Peter Stringfellow broke away from his roots, chasing money and girls. He ended up in the British Merchant Navy and was travelling the world at 17.

Membership cards from Peter Stringfellow's various clubs

Membership cards from Stringfellow's various clubs

“I went ashore in New York with $10 dollars in my pocket and was amazed. It was like something out of a superman comic. When I came back to Sheffield I still had New York in my head and I had something that no-one else I knew had – worldly experience and the desire to have money, and lots of it.”

The Black Cat Club

Soon Peter opened his first club in Sheffield, the Black Cat Club.

King Mojo Club on Pittsmoor Road, Sheffield

King Mojo Club on Pittsmoor Road, Sheffield

“I had the Beatles at the Black Cat and then wanted more of what they were having. So I opened up more clubs, most notably Mojo which became one of my most successful clubs. I have no doubt in my mind that the Arctic Monkeys' [also Sheffield based] parents went to that club.”

King Mojo on Pittsmoor Road

The Mojo Club was open for three years until 1966, in an old Victorian house on Pittsmoor Road.

John Hall and Tina Turner at the King Mojo Club

John Hall and Tina Turner at the King Mojo Club

Some of the biggest names played there - Jimi Hendrix, Ike and Tina Turner, The Small Faces... but it wasn't the easiest club to get to:

"It was one bus into town, from town to the Wicker, another bus up Pittsmoor Road, maybe even another bus! You had to really want to go to the Mojo Club!

"Bus after bus used to empty the crowd. In three years, English pop exploded - The Small Faces, The Who, The Spencer Davies Group...

"We discovered soul music coming in from America. Wilson Pickett, Alvin Cash and the Crawlers came all the way to Sheffield from Philadelphia. There were Ike and Tina."

Mojo posters designed by Colin Duffield

Some of the big names at the Mojo

Peter Stringfellow recognises that his special skill was to mix all sorts of music under one roof, and this led to the popularity of the club.

"I mixed them all up - I liked everybody's music, not just one sort... I'd put Herman's Hermits into a blues show - you cannot really do that!

"But I think, if music's good, I like it - the genre doesn't matter."

Jimi Hendrix at Mojo

Stringfellow recollects a visit from an American legend who at the time was a known as a "weirdo."

"We paid £50 for Hendrix - there's an advert in The Sheffield Star archives which says, 'The well-known weirdo Jimi Hendrix.'

Mojo poster, by Colin Duffield (?)

Poster against threats of closure - Colin Duffield

"Someone tipped the police off saying that Hendrix had drugs. They didn't have a drugs squad in those days so they sent the fire brigade! The fire officer said, 'Come on then son, where are these drugs?' Jimi Hendrix had this big reefer and he said, 'Sorry man, I don't do drugs.' They had no idea and just walked out! Jimi played the most incredible set that night."

Alcohol is available almost everywhere nowadays, but when Peter started out his clubs weren't licensed: "The Black Cat Club, The Blue Moon Club, Down Broadway - no alcohol," says Peter. "I didn't get a license for alcohol until 1969 for a club I called The Penthouse." Instead, Sheffield's teenagers hung out in Coffee Bars like Bistrotheque on Sheffield High Street.

Art at 'Down Broadway Bistrotheque'

Down Broadway: the Bistrotheque, after the Mojo

In February 1966 the Mojo Club was closed down by the authorities owing to "nuisance caused by noise." Peter Stringfellow went on to open Bistrotheque on the High Street in Sheffield, and then the successful Penthouse club.

Pop art and beyond

The Mojo Club wasn't just a place for progressive music - it was also a hot spot for contemporary art.

Two Sheffield lads Dave Manvell and Paul Norton were responsible for nearly all the art on the walls of the club, while Colin Duffield designed the posters for this club and other successors.

"They did it for free at The Mojo Club, these boys and other art students would come and paint the place. There was lots of psychedelic art," says Peter.

Many of the images are reproduced in the book Pop Art of Sheffield's King Mojo club and Beyond...

The book includes art from the walls of other clubs - Chesterfield's Victoria Ballroom, The Ark Club in Sheffield, The Penthouse, the Bistrotheque on the High Street and more - including the high street store C&A!

Stringfellows nightclub, Wardour Street

Stringfellows nightclub, Wardour Street

The book is priced at £9.99 and proceeds go to the Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity.

Strip clubs

Until the 1980s Peter had been holding normal music nights, but at this point he started selling his most profitable “product” – girls, lots and lots of girls.

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

Stringfellows, Dublin in 1996 (© Press Association)

Stringfellows, Dublin in 1996 (© PA)

However, Peter Stringfellow's success didn’t come without any pitfalls. Other clubs in Miami and Los Angles were a disaster and put Peter in huge debt. Yet his passion and dedication didn’t falter and he was soon back on track.

He converted his club in Covent Garden, London from having girls three nights a week in 1996 to rebrand it ‘Cabaret of Angels’ in 2000 when it became a strip club seven nights a week.

“It’s a nice feeling having the success I have, but I have spent a lifetime getting here. I didn’t just win X-Factor!”

He now sits comfortable on his throne of girls and money, but his past has been pitted with debt and critics slagging off his personal life. In 2003 he was voted by Channel 4 viewers as the 18th worst Briton.

“That poll was frivolous and it just made me laugh. As you get older its just all funny.”

The life of Peter

Nothing seems to affect Peter in his personal or business life. It is all about his success and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. Yet is he willing to share his success with anyone else?

“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. When you work for yourself you can go bankrupt but if you’re a chairman of a PLC (Public Limited Company) then you can get a very good payoff. I would possibly consider turning the Stringfellows brand into a PLC and letting people buy shares, but I have no hot plans for it yet.”

Peter Stringfellow in 1995 (© Allstar)

Peter Stringfellow in 1995 (© Allstar)

Let's talk girls

He neither confirms nor denies claims that he has slept with over 3,000 women, rather he is more focused on his future.

“The past is such a long time. I now have a beautiful fiancée who I am marrying next Valentines Day and have three little dogs, two children and four grandchildren who I love all dearly.”

His fiancée is 25 year old Bella Wright, a former Royal Ballet dancer. So is he finally growing up and settling down for good?

“My life at the moment is fantastic and I have no plans to change. The idea of retiring is old and dated. I will continue what I’m doing my whole life as long as it keeps me happy and interested. I will see what comes my way.”

Peter Stringfellow

Wearing his signature leopard print

Peter lives his life by the second and puts his success down to pure determination and passion. He will not settle for anything less than he desires.

“If you can find something that you enjoy and can dedicate yourself to and wake up every morning and think ‘wow’, then you have it. It doesn’t have to be easy and whatever you think your future is going to be like, it’s not going to be that at all. In life you have no idea what is coming, and that is a wonderful thing.”

Watch footage of Peter Stringfellow talking about his life growing up in Sheffield:

Peter Stringfellow speaks to the Commons culture committee (November 2008)

Peter Stringfellow speaks to the Commons

BBC News: Stringfellow slams lapdancing plans (Nov 2008)

In November 2008, the Local Government Association called for lapdance clubs to be reclassified as "sex encounter establishments" (like peep shows in London) which would mean local authorities would have more say in where they are placed.

But Peter Stringfellow strongly opposed the plans, telling the Commons culture committe that this would make it harder for premises to open.

last updated: 12/05/2009 at 15:21
created: 19/06/2008

Have Your Say

Did you go to the King Mojo Club on Pittmsoor Road - or any of Peter Stringfellow's other clubs?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

mick payne
i went all the time to the mojo club in the 60ts brill

Jacqueline Slack
I have some advertisments from the Mojo Club Iwondered if Peter would be Interested in them

michael doughty
went with peter who is my cousin i am 1 year older than peter i now live in sutton on sea lincs

Jennifer Ludlam Nee Jenkinson
Was at the Mojo most nights,that is where I met my Husband of 37 yrs. I went to all of the all nighters. Remember his Mom working in the ticket booth taking the money and Geof stood at the door making sure you had a ticket. The use to have compitions on stage and one was for the best costume. I made a flower costume with petals all around. Don't remember if I won but it was a good laugh. There was some good dancers there,one name that comes to mind is a guy named Wooric. (not sue of spelling )We use to get a pass out and go down the road to the Pub for a drink. I loved those years,I thought the Penthouse was too Posh for Sheffield at the time.

carole haslam nee Battison
Yes l went to petes 1st ever club up City road at St Aidens , love it was alays being grounded by mum for bieng out late , also went to the fabulous Mojo and saw many of the artist there. I was also lucky to go on a couple of the trips Pete sponsored to his night club in London in the eightys . Happy days . Cass

Jacqueline Slack Sheffield
Ithought Pete may be interestedin some original advertising posters on bright orange cardboard advertising who and when were coming to the Mojo Club

Hannah Ambler
My father (Kieth Ambler) is peter's 3rd cousin (so i've been told), He used to tell me some things about how he was rich and successfull but he didn't tell me about the nightclubs.I would actually like to get in contact with him if it would be advisable.Im not entirely sure if he and my father were close or didn't speak.I was born in sheffield and lived there for approximately 2-3 years before i moved away with my older brother and sister and my parents (Keith & Karen) i know this may not be as important as the "nightclubs" but maybe i could visit when im a little older, as i know now my mum would deffinately not approve if i did so at my current age.

Josie Warburton Powell
I lived on the Gleadless Valley Estates and went to school with one of Petes brothers, its been so long ago, but I think the family lived in Hempsworth near the shops and the old school. Not sure, i do recall tho going to the club and i almost sure the Small Faces where there but then again its been a long time so I may be wrong and it was somewhere else, but it was in Pitsmoore.

Tom Field
I sent in earlier stuff about the mojo last night. I have since read on the site that the club lost its licence because of noise nuisance. I stopped going to the club some time before that happened but had heard rumours that the club had been shut because of drugs, This was obviously wrong and there fore would you please not print what i had said earlier because it might not have been accurate.My applogies for any confusion on this matter.

Tom Field
Yepers i used to frequent the King Mojo club in the mid sixties, which was a really cool Mod club. Out side in the car park there were lines of Vespa's and Lambrettas with chrome gleaming in the sunlight. All the girls no matter where they came from and what ever class wanted to be seen on the back of a scooter. I saw a lambretta advertised on the e bay from Vietnam 3 years ago and despite being 57 then just could not resist buying it.I now ride the bike round ny new home In Newquay CornwallI saw most of the top bands there including The Who. I will never forget Pete Townsend smashing all the lightbulbs across the stage then totaly wrecking his amp and guitar. Also remember Keith Moon diving at his bass drum trying to put his head through it.My claim to fame was during the Ike and Tina Tuurner all niter during a break i got her pinned against the wall in the cafe section and snogged her (like tongues and everything)this was promply stopped by Ike who tapped me on the shoulder and gave me the evil eye. OMG was she fit then. She danced and sang for hours. If you think she bcan go now you should have seen her then.Unfortunately, the place was eventually closed dowm with Pete opening yet another club in Sheffield centre called Down Broadway.Peter says earlier that he put the Beatles on at the Black cat which was on the Whicker, but my recolection is that whilst he sold tickets for the Cat he sold to many and had to shift the venue to the Azena Club on White Lane at Gleadless. My friends brother had to go to pick to of the group up at the Manor Hotel who were no other than John Lennon Aand Paul McCartney.Great Memories of a truly great era.

Rob Hollin
I was at the club nearly every night it was open weAll nighters were great,I still have my membership cards

Barbara Whitfield (nee Hopewell)
Great time wouldn't have missed the experience.

Barbara Johnson
I visited the Mojo in either 63 or 64 as my friend and I were loyal "Sheffield's" fans. I recently purchased a cd with their 3 records on for the memory. I now live in America.

Maggie Freemantle from leeds
I worked for a long time at Pete's clubs in Leeds, Cinderella's and Rockerfella's back in the 70s, He was such a fantastic guy all those years ago and great to all his staff.

Janet Harley
Yes I was a regular Mojo goer. Had to get two buses to get there but it was always worth it. Fantastic groups and music. Remember seeing Gino Washington, Long John Baldry, Alan Price etc etc. But my dad would never let me stay for the all-nighters - more's the pity. All good memories though.

Janet Moore
A former Go Go Dancer at the Mojo ClubGreat tmes were had by all

Peter Barnett
Yes I remember the Mojo Club - I saw the Small Faces there and Steviue Winwood - it was a great club with fantastic atmosphere. My friends and I used to come over from Rotherham for a good time.

Leila Higgins
I remember those good all day's it was very dark in there with writing all over the wall's i lived not far away from the Mo jo

Paul Titman
Too young for Mojo, but was a regular "Down Broadway". Remember Billy Stewart appearing there and on one occasion a power cut which put the place in total darkness!

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