Champagne Charlie



  • The nickname of George Leybourne (Joe Saunders; 1842 - 84),the music hall performer who popularized a song of the same title.He first sang it in 1867 at the Canterbury Music Hall, London. WhenJ. J. Poole, musical director of the Metropolitan Music Hall, sawhis performance there, he dubbed Leybourne "a regular lion ofa comic", thereby coining the music-hall term lion comique.

    Although Leybourne himself was a Midlands mechanic who firstsang in East End taverns, his stage character was a whiskered man-about-townwith monocle and fur collar. His songs praised the delights of drinkand he lived the part off-stage, drinking only champagne, dressingextravagantly, and driving a carriage-and-four.

    By the 1880s Leybourne's popularity and health were declining.His last years were spent managing and chairing smaller halls; hewas sometimes joined on stage by his daughter, Florrie, for a shortroutine.

    The character in the song was suggested by the original ChampagneCharlie, the 4th and last Marquess of Hastings. He was the most notoriousspendthrift and wastrel of the mid-19th century. One night he lostthree games of draughts for £1,000 a game. He then cut a packof cards for £500 a cut, and lost £5,000 in an hour and ahalf. He paid both debts before he left the room.