Alfred Peek Stevens
(1839 – December 26
), best known by his stage name Alfred Vance
, was an English singer
in the 19th Century music halls
Early life and family
Vance was born in London
in 1839. He worked initially as a solicitor's clerk, before appearing in Music Halls.
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 Park, London.
Vance died while performing on the stage of the Sun Music Hall, Knightsbridge, on 26 December 1888. He is buried in Nunhead Cemetery.
- The Chickaleery Cove
- Jolly Dogs
- Walking in the Zoo
- Cliquot, Cliquot
- Act in the Square, Boys
- Alfred Vance makes a cameo appearance in the fictional novel Lestrade and the Brother of Death by M. J. Trow
- Oxford Companion to Popular Music by Peter Grimmond - ISBN 0-19-280004-3