Fred Barnes: The Black Sheep of the Family

Christopher Green as Fred Barnes - photo by Milan Svanderlik

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Stories, songs and an insight into a forgotten star

Meet the ‘wavy-haired, blue-eyed Adonis’ from 1885. British Music Hall singer Fred Barnes’s hit song, The Black Sheep of The Family, and outrageous appearance both made him a star and were the architects of his downfall. Performer and curator Christopher Green presents an evening celebrating Barnes through story and song.

Fred Barnes’s father, a butcher, became increasingly appalled at his son’s behaviour. Thwarted from attempting to kill Fred with a meat cleaver, he killed himself instead. Fred responded by spending his inheritance on lavish living and the start of an assiduous desire to drink himself to death. By the 1930s was willing to sing his greatest hits to anyone in a pub in return for a drink. At the height of his fame and sophistication he had a pet marmoset who would sit on his shoulder while he sang.

Christopher Green is working on a theatre show in collaboration with Wilton’s Music Hall on Fred Barnes. He is the author of Overpowered: The Science & Showbiz of Hypnosis and has reinvented the stage hypnotism routine in his act The Singing Hypnotist. Christopher writes regularly for BBC Radio 4 and has won many awards for his cabaret and theatre work.

Enjoy food and drink purchased from the Knowledge Centre Bar from 18.00 and after the event until the Bar closes at 22.00.


Name: Fred Barnes: The Black Sheep of the Family
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546