GUS ELEN






Born ERNEST AUGUSTUS ELEN on 22nd July 1862 in London, the son of Edwin Elen, a draper and his wife Mercy Elen.

 

Gus Elen began his theatrical career busking in the streets of London, mimicking the stars of the day in pubs and entertaining as a minstrel on the sands at Ramsgate. 

 

 

It wasn’t however, until March 1891, when he performed at the Middlesex Music Hall, that Gus Elen found his niche as a singer of coster songs and went on to become one of the greatest music hall cockney comic vocalists of all time.

 

With brilliant comedy characterizations and songs that were full of earthy realism, but always tempered with a good dash of cockney irony, he sang with a true East End spirit that endeared him to his audiences.

 

His repertoire has given Music Hall some of its best-loved songs that include; “If It Wasn’t For The ‘Ouses In Between, “Never Introduce Your Donah To A Pal”, “ ’Arf A Pint Of Ale”, “I’m Very Unkind To My Wife” and the highly popular “It’s A Great Big Shame!”

 

 For over 30 years Gus Elen topped the bill at all the leading Music Halls in the United Kingdom, as well as touring America.

 

He retired at the height of his fame, only to make a comeback in 1931 at the age of 70 touring the London Variety circuit.  As a mark of the esteem he was held in, he was invited to appear in the 1935 Royal Variety Performance at The London Palladium.  

 

Not many people knew that for many years Gus Elen was a real-life Santa Claus for each Christmas, he would distribute toys and dolls to 600 poor children of Balham, Battersea, Clapham and Wandsworth.

 

Gus Elen passed away in 1940 at the age of 77 at his home at 3 Thurleigh Avenue, Battersea, where a commemorate blue plaque now stands.

 

He was laid to rest at Streatham Park Cemetery. 

 

 

The Songs Gus Elen sang:

 

ALLAYS IN JAIL

ALL BY MYSELF

‘ARF A PINT OF ALE

BANG WENT THE COPPER

BOOM-DE-AY-TA-RA-RA

THE BORE O’ BEF’NAL GREEN

BUFFALO BILL

BUT THAT’S NOTHING

THE CABBY

CATCH ‘EM ALIVE OH!

THE COCKNEY CABBY

THE COSTER’S MANSION

THE COSTER’S MUVVER

THE COSTER’S NIGHTMARE

THE COSTER’S PONY

A COVE WHAT’S LIVED IN LONDON ALL ‘IS LIFE

DICK WHITTINGTON

DON’T STOP M Y ‘ARF A PINT OF ALE

DOWN BY THE ICEBERGS

DOWN THE DIALS

DOWN THE ROAD

‘E AS MY SYMPATHY

‘E AS THE AS-ER-DACITY TO GRUMBLE

‘E DUNNO WHERE ‘E’ ARE

‘E GRUMBLES

‘E’S A REG’LAR BARNEY TOMATOE

‘E TALKS LIKE A PICTURE BOOK

THE FAITHFUL COSTER

THE FAITHFUL DONAH

THE FINEST FLOW O’ LANGUAGE EVER ‘EARD

THE FLYING MAN

A FUNNY LITTLE THING IS A BABY

THE GOLDEN DUSTMAN

GO LIKE THIS

GOOD RIDDANCE

THE GREAT SPINK PEARLS

HAUNTED BY DAISY BELL

THE HAUNTED IDIOT

I COULDN’T GET OUT

IF IT WASN’T FOR THE ‘OUSES IN BETWEEN

IF I WAS KING OF ENGLAND

I HELPED MYSELF

I’M GOING TO SETTLE DOWN IN ENGLAND

I’M HAPPY

I’M VERY UNKIND TO MY WIFE

INKY

I SHALL NEVER FIND ANUVVER PAL LIKE BILL

IT’S A GREAT BIG SHAME

IT’S A MARVEL HOW ‘E DOOS IT BUT ‘E DO!

IT’S A SPRAHTIN or THE COSTER’S MOUSTACHE

IT’S NAUGHTY

IT SOUNDS SO WERRY PRETTY

IT WAS GONE

THE JILTED SHOEBLACK

JUST BECAUSE SHE’S GOT AN  ‘ANDLE TO HER NAME

THE KING OF THE CASTLE

LIFE’S WORTH LIVING AFTER ALL

THE LUCKY TREASURE SEEKER

ME AND ‘ER AND ‘ER AND ME

MEN YOU MEET IN A PUB

MERIAH

MRS CARTER

MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOUR’S GARDIN

MYRTLE

NATURE’S MADE A BIG MISTAKE

NEVER INTRODUCE A DONAH TO YOUR PAL

THE NEW CUT COON

THE NEW PERJARMA HAT

NICE QUIET DAY

NIXIT IN YOUR SKI

NOT TONIGHT

OLD GRANNY GLADDY

‘OO COULD BE HAPPER THAN ME?

OUR PRETTY LITTLE WILLA DOWN AT BARKIN

OUR TYKE

THE PAVEMENT ARTIST

POSTMAN’S HOLIDAY

THE PUBLICAN

SEVEN DIALS

THE SKIPPER IN THE MERCANTILE MARINE

SOME ‘O YER DO GIT ABAHT

SOMETIMES

THE STAR OF CAPTAIN COE

THERE AIN’T NO GITTING RID OF ‘IM AT ALL

THE THOUGHTFUL THINKING MAN

‘TIS A LADY

THE UNEMPLOYED QUESTION

THE WAG OF THE DOG’S TAIL

WAIT TILL THE WORK COMES ROUND

WHAT A GARDEN

WHJO’S THAT A-SQUALLING?

THE WRONG ‘UN

YOU CAN ALWAYS SHUT YOUR EYES AND ‘EAR THEM GROW

YOU COULD SEE AS ‘OW ‘E DIDN’T FEEL AT ‘OME

YOU’VE GOT TO STOP JUST WHERE YOU ARE

YOU WOULDN’T ‘IT AN OLD ‘UN WOULD YER!