King of Clubs Eddie Fewtrell who sent Kray twins packing dies aged 90
The West Midlands' self-styled "King of Clubs", who infamously sent the Kray twins packing when they tried to muscle in on his empire, has died at the age of 90.
Eddie Fewtrell, who ran Club Millennium in Brierley Hill, died on Sunday morning at his home in Ross-on-Wye.
Together with his brothers Don and Chris he dominated the nightlife scene in the West Midlands during the 1960s and 70s. In his 2008 book King of Clubs, he wrote about the time when Reg and Ronnie Kray turned up to one of his clubs demanding protection money – and how he sent them away after a brief scuffle.
But despite his run-ins with the feared gangland bosses, he vehemently insisted that he steered clear of such activities.
In his autobiography, he wrote: "A lot of people, because I was such a powerful man in the nightclub scene, with lots of people under my control, thought I was a gangster or a villain.
"I wasn't. I was just a normal person who believed in fairness. There's no way I'd take a liberty with anybody."
Indeed, inferences in a book by his son-in-law David Keogh entitled The Accidental Gangster led to a huge fall-out with his daughter Abi, which even saw him consult with his lawyers.
But Abi said she had healed the rift with her father, and she led tributes following his death.
"We’d had our disagreements in the past but I take comfort that we’d made our peace in recent years," she said.
“He was not an easy man, but I’ll always choose to remember him in the years before my beloved mother Hazel died.
"I’ll cherish going to work with him at the clubs with my uncles and cousins and how we used to go for late-night curries with the staff and gambling at the Rainbow Casino and swear blind to my dear mom we were home by 2am."
Mr Fewtrell, one of 10 children born to an alcoholic father in the Aston area of Birmingham, opened his first club with younger brother Chris in 1956, when they bought the old Victoria Cafe in Navigation Street, and turned it into the Bermuda Club.
Eddie, Chris and Don rose to prominence as probably the biggest nightclub owners in the region during the 1960s and 70s, owning venues that included Edwards No. 7 and No. 8, Boogies, Goldwyns and the Paramount Club.
He sold his empire to Ansell's brewery for £10 million in 1989, but found he missed being involved in the industry, and in 1994 he took over the former Queen's pub in Level Street, Brierley Hill,
to create Xposure Rock Cafe.
On opening, he promised "5,000 Watts of noise", and later renamed the venue as Club Millennium.
In the early days, he became friends with stars such as Tom Jones, who he paid £70 for two nights.
A boxer in his youth, he said that taking no nonsense from troublemakers had been a key part of his success in business. He said he had never heard of the Kray twins when they, along with their henchmen Chris and Tony Lambrianou, turned up to one of his clubs demanding protection money.
"The Krays were well-known in London, but in Birmingham I'd never heard of them," he wrote in his book.
"When they told me who they were, it didn't mean a thing. They were on my turf, so my attitude was how could they think of taking me on in Birmingham?
"A little while later, the Lambrianous came down, throwing their weight around, and I did the same with them. I beat them up and threw them out. It's as simple as that."
He claimed to have punched one of the brothers so hard that he was sent flying from one end of the room to the other, and the Lambrianous confirmed the beating took place in their own book, Inside The Firm.
Chris died in 1999, aged 56. Don fell on hard times after his partnership with Eddie broke up, and in 1993 it was reported that he was living in a council flat. He took his own life in 2012 after a five-year battle to save his failing sight.