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Alfred Peek Stevens (1839 – 26 December 1888), best known by his stage name Alfred Vance, was an English singermarker in the 19th Century music halls.

Early life and family

Vance was born in Londonmarker in 1839. He worked initially as a solicitor's clerk, before appearing in Music Halls.

Career

His first solo appearance was at the South London Palace in 1864, but he had earlier performed in a blackface duo act with his brother in 1860. His act, initially as a cockney singer, evolved into comedy. He was also known as both "The Great Vance" and Alfred Grenville. Vance was a great rival of George Leybourne, writer of Champagne Charlie. Vance wrote and performed Cliquot in response. Vance ended the feud with the song Beautiful Beer. Their style introduced a new genre to the music hall, known as Lion Comique. Vance's popular song "Walking in the Zoo" has been cited by Desmond Morris (in Gestures: Their Origin and Distribution) as the earliest known use of the term "O.K." in its current sense. (It was previously used in America as a political slogan for Martin Van Buren, nicknamed Old Kinderhook or O.K.) The chorus of Vance's song begins with the line "Walking in the zoo is the O.K. thing to do." The song refers specifically to the Zoological Gardens at Regents Parkmarker, London. Another song of the 1860s was The King of Trumps, the sheet music looks great with the playing card for the King of Trumps in colour in each corner with parts of other cards around a great picture of the Great Vance in a top hat, whiskers and a cheroot!! Vance died while performing on the stage of the Sun Music Hall, Knightsbridgemarker, on 26 December 1888. He is buried in Nunhead Cemeterymarker.

Songs

  • "The Chickaleery Cove"
  • "Jolly Dogs"
  • "Walking in the Zoo"
  • "Cliquot, Cliquot"
  • "Act in the Square, Boys"

Trivia

  • Alfred Vance makes a cameo appearance in the novel Lestrade and the Brother of Death by M. J. Trow

References

  • Oxford Companion to Popular Music by Peter Grimmond - ISBN 0-19-280004-3



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