Legendary nightclub impresario Peter Stringfellow has died at the age of 77, it has been announced.

His publicist, Matt Glass, told the Huffington Post and other outlets that Stringfellow had passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning (June 7th).

“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,” Glass said.

An iconic figure in London’s nightlife scene for decades, Stringfellow owned a small empire of nightclubs around the world, with the first of them opening way back in the 1960s. Initially, he launched them as live music venues, booking the likes The Beatles, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones and Jimi Hendrix.

Peter Stringfellow and wifePeter Stringfellow with his wife Bella

By the 1980s, however, his nightclubs became synonymous with lap-dancing and topless girls. London’s Covent Garden was the home of the most famous one, with other clubs in Paris, New York City, Miami and Beverly Hills.

It’s believed that Stringfellow was battling with cancer, an ordeal which he kept private. Three years ago in 2015, he had revealed that he had beaten lung cancer.

“I couldn’t believe it when they said it was the Big C and it was lung cancer. I’ve never smoked in my life and it’s the worst cancer you can get at my age. I was told if I’d waited until I had symptoms like coughing and wheezing it would have been too late to save me.”

He is survived by two adult children, Karen and Scott, and his wife Bella and their two young children Rosabella and Angelo – who were born in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

“My last child was born 48 years ago, so I’m up for the challenge,” Stringfellow said upon the birth of his youngest three years ago, when he was 74 years old. “I know it’s going to be tough so, of course we’ll have nannies - a night nanny, and a day nanny and a holiday nanny and an aeroplane nanny. I’m ready for the hardship.”

More: Peter Stringfellow aiming to become a father again in his 70s [archive]