Music sheet cover
Designed by Alfred Concanen, printed by Charles Sheard
Museum no. S.2778-1986
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Born in 1842, George Leybourne started off singing in the East End under his real name, Joe Saunders. His big break came when he was engaged for a year at the Canterbury Music Hall at £25 a week. The song 'Champagne Charlie' was such a hit that it sent his wages up to £125 per week. He was the Victorian equivalent of a film star and lived the lifestyle to match his image, riding around London in his own carriage and four horses, with a selection of beautiful women. He dressed the part too, in a shiny top hat and fur collared coat and grew huge whiskers known as 'Piccadilly Weepers'. The song Champagne Charlie earned him the sponsorship of champagne producers Moet and Chandon because of the advertising he provided for their company. They gave him a retainer and supplies of their product. His lifestyle caught up with him eventually and he died in 1884 at the age of 42.