The ending of his life had no gory echoes of The Sopranos, Goodfellas, The Long Good Friday or popular culture gangsterism.

Like Arthur Thompson, the gangland godfather whose footsteps he followed in, Tam "The Licensee" McGraw died of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 54.

For a man synonymous with violence and organised crime in Scotland over the past 30 years, it was the inglorious end suffered by so many middle-aged men in Glasgow's east end and elsewhere in Scotland - a dodgy heart.

One of the wealthiest "businessmen" in Glasgow, he owned numerous businesses, from security companies to taxi firms to pubs, as well as a property portfolio in Scotland, Ireland and Spain with an estimated worth of £10m.

The real money came through his extortion and drug trafficking activities, which some sources claim were worth around £15m.

Born in Glasgow's east end in 1953, he became involved in low-level criminal activity including shoplifting and housebreaking during the early-1960s.

After several spells in approved schools and borstals during his teenage years he was recruited into the "Bar-l gang", based around the Barlanark area of Glasgow and specialising in armed robbery.

A willing and eager participant in the gang's post office raids throughout Scotland, he eventually became one of the most wanted criminals in the country but managed to evade police for some time before eventual arrest in a failed robbery of a social club outside Glasgow, as he loaded several crates of alcohol into his van.

Although McGraw was arrested while trying to flee on foot after his vehicle overturned during a brief high-speed chase, charges were dropped and he was released the following morning.

It was the beginning of the rumour mill, fuelled by both rivals and gangland contemporaries, that McGraw may have been a police informant, supplying information on associates in exchange for police protection from his own illegal activities. His trial and subsequent acquittal for the attempted murder of a police officer in 1978 did little to quell the speculation.

By the time the early- 1980s had arrived, McGraw's criminal empire had begun expanding into the burgeoning heroin trade, the profits concealed through the purchase of nightclubs and pubs.

He was also identified as a figure in one of the most notorious incidents in Scotland during the 1980s, Glasgow's "Ice Cream Wars" which resulted in the murders of six members of the Doyle family in Ruchazie in the east end in 1984.

Thomas "TC" Campbell, who was later acquitted of the crime, has claimed in the past that McGraw had started the blaze.

It was also during this time that McGraw acquired the nickname "The Licensee", explanations for which vary.

According to some, the nickname followed his entry into the pub business and because he could obtain licences for taxis and ice cream vans.

Rivals say it was because he could commit offences without fear, in return for informing on others.

Paul Ferris, a one-time close accomplice who became arguably his biggest rival in Glasgow's world of organised crime, claimed in his autobiography that McGraw became involved in dealing heroin due to his connections to corrupt police officers, receiving confiscated drugs which he sold on the streets.

One of McGraw's businesses at that time was the Caravel Bar in Hallhill Road, Barlanark, held in the name of his wife, Margaret.

Next door was Mac Cabs, another firm held in his wife's name.

The Caravel was suddenly bulldozed after underworld informers gave police intelligence that it had played a role in the deaths of Joe "Bananas" Hanlon and Bobby Glover, who were executed with shots to the head either as revenge for the murder of Arthur "Fat Boy" Thompson, son of Arthur Thompson Sr, or because they were the only witnesses to the murder.

The timely demolition, it was suggested, ruled out a planned forensic investigation.

Mr McGraw made the headlines when in 1998 he was arrested for drug smuggling. He was at the centre of a 55-day trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, one of Scotland's longest and costliest drugs trials, during which it was alleged he bankrolled a massive drug-running operation between Morocco and Scotland. He was acquitted on a majority "not proven" verdict but several associates, including his brother-in-law, received lengthy jail terms.

The judge, Lord Bonomy, said the trial had shown "a disturbing example of organised crime in the midst of needy Glasgow communities".

Mr McGraw's counsel, Donald Findlay, QC, described him as an Arthur Daley figure "ducking and diving" in the black economy, and that, coupled with his legitimate business activities, explained why he was in possession of huge sums of money.

Following his acquittal he became increasingly elusive, spending more and more time on Ireland and Tenerife.

In 2002, he was involved in an altercation with his adversary Ferris, who later went back to prison for the brawl, suffering wounds to his arms, wrists and buttocks.

Although protected by a bulletproof vest, he had received only minor injuries.

He later reportedly held a meeting with Ferris, with whom he had been feuding for some time over the allegations in his book, and agreed to pay him £2m in compensation for his losses following McGraw's takeover of his territory while imprisoned.

His right-hand man Billy McPhee was stabbed to death while watching football in a packed pub in Ballieston, in the east end.

McPhee had survived being shot in the face just four months earlier.

He also had a major fall-out with his lieutenant and brother-in-law John Healy. There was an attempt on his life in the Royal Oak pub in Nitshill, on Glasgow's southern boundary, in 2004, during which two men, John McCartney and Craig Devlin, were seriously wounded.

The pub mysteriously burnt down a month later.

In 2005 a bankruptcy case against McGraw was lifted after a hearing at the Court of Session, bringing to an end an investigation into his financial affairs during which he declared his assets as £116.