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Camden News - by DAN CARRIER
Published: 7 August 2008

Electric Ballroom boss Kate Fuller at the venue which has been in her family since the 1930s. Inset Bill Fuller who has died at 91 ’
Legend behind Ballroom dies, but fight for venue will go on

HE arrived in Camden Town in the 1930s with little more than the price of a cuppa in his pocket – but when Bill Fuller passed away, he owned a Nevada goldmine, a string of nightclubs, a building firm and property across the world.
Mr Fuller, 91, was the man behind the Electric Ballroom, and friends have revealed that up to his death from a heart attack in California at the weekend, he was keeping a close eye on any future plans to demolish the celebrated nightclub that helped make his fortune.
The Camden High Street venue has been threatened by the wreckers’ ball for five years – London Underground want to revamp the station and pay for the work by developing the site.
Family friend Mick McLoughlin, the licensee of the Parrs Head in Camden Town, first met Mr Fuller when he worked at the club when it was called the Buffalo in the 1960s.
He said: “Bill was still fighting to preserve the old Buffalo – he was fighting it on his death bed. He’ll be missed – but his daughter Katie is a grand lady and will continue her father’s work.”
Mr McLoughlin said whenever the mogul came to London, he’d come to the Ballroom, which played host to names ranging from the likes of Paul McCartney to Public Enemy, U2 through to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
He added: “He was good fun, he’d have a drink with you.”
Fellow music mogul Vince Power, who set up the Mean Fiddler group, first met Mr Fuller in the 1990s.
Although Mr Fuller’s daughter Kate runs the club, Mr Power said his death would be an end of era.
“In business, he was straightforward,” said Mr Power. He gave it to you the way he saw it and would not negotiate. Camden Town may eventually end up looking like one big glass box and lose all its character. I’m sure Bill would not want to see that happen, and would want the fight to go on.”
Mr Fuller was born in County Kerry in 1917 and moved to London in the early 1930s.
Then The Buffalo Club had a rough reputation: trouble would start between Irish immigrants from different counties and after one dust-up too many, Kentish Town police closed it down.
Mr Fuller stepped in.
Interviewed in 1997, he said: “I went to the chief of police in Holmes Road. He was an inspector Harris and a hard man to bargain with but I said ‘I’ll make a deal with you: if you ever get called in to sort out a fight here, I’ll put the lock back on the gate’.”
In 1978, the Buffalo Club was renamed the Electric Ballroom. Its place in the pantheon of music venues was assured with performances by the Sex Pistols, and The Clash in its early years.
Mr Fuller never forgot his Irish roots.
The Pogues used the Ballroom as a rehearsal space and he flew in from America to watch them. When Van Morrison arrived late into London for a gig, Mr Fuller gave him a room in the flat above to sleep in afterwards.
In the late 1960s, he headed to California and Nevada where he became involved in the mining industry.
His fame in Nevada increased when he became an unlikely hero in a case of a miscarriage of justice.
When Las Vegas casino owner Ted Binion was found dead in 1998, police believed his stripper girlfriend Sandy Murphy and her secret lover Rick Tabish were responsible.
They were both convicted of murder but Mr Fuller, after watching their plight on the news, felt they had been treated unfairly and stumped up the legal fees to have an appeal heard, and then to get them out on bail.
He had never met the couple but was convinced they had not had a fair trial. With his help, the murder convictions were overturned in 2003.

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