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Roy Bailey

+ {Band Of Hope}

Born 20 October 1935, London, England, some fervent folk fans among you might recognise the name of ROY BAILEY through his work with LEON ROSSELSON; the latter had invited Roy to replace MARTIN CARTHY in embryonic 60s outfit the Three City Four.
Inspired by the working-class folk of PETE SEEGER and The WEAVERS and encouraged by fellow Brit-folkie EWAN MacCOLL, ex-serviceman and now socially-motivated teacher BAILEY set about stretching out his full-time day-job as lecturer, then Head of Faculty, at Sheffield Polytechnic, to include a career in music; with wife Val Bailey and ROSSELSON, he delivered an EP and an album of children’s songs, OATS & BEANS & KANGAROOS (1968) {*5}.
His eponymous, Bill Leader-produced set in ’71, ROY BAILEY {*6}, was augmented by the aforementioned CARTHY, JOHN KIRKPATRICK (writer of tracks `Dust To Dust’ and `Poverty Knock’), ROSSELSON (writer of `Palaces Of Gold’) and STEELEYE SPAN fiddler Peter Knight. Roy was to re-establish his musical partnership with ROSSELSON on more than one occasion, the collaborative `That’s Not The Way It’s Got To Be’ (1975) and LOVE, LONELINESS, LAUNDRY (1977) {*7}, the latter a set which gave top billing (this time) to BAILEY but was penned by ROSSELSON (who played on virtually everything); it was produced by CARTHY (who featured on guitar), with BAILEY (and at times, Val) taking the vocal role. Squeezed in between these two long-players, the solo NEW BELL WAKE (1976) {*6} – which also featured Chris and John Leslie on respective fiddle and concertina – should’ve given him a bit of commercial success.
To a lesser extent, with BAILEY & ROSSELSON’s IF I KNEW WHO THE ENEMY WAS… (1979) {*7}, the former was given more vocal cues; producers on this occasion were CARTHY, KIRKPATRICK and Sue Harris – all in session once again. KIRKPATRICK also appeared on subsequent work: HARD TIMES (1982) {*5} and …. FREEDOM PEACEFULLY (1985) {*6}, all mainly using little-known outside writers such as Geoff Pearson, Brian Pearson, Charlie Murphy, Dave Rogers, SI KAHN; Roy’s wife Val always provided backing vox, while KIRKPATRICK’s missus, Sue Harris, was in session for LEAVES FROM A TREE (1988) {*7}.
The late 80s marked out a transitional time for BAILEY – who’d suffered a heart attack in 1988 – after his hard decision to retire from the teaching profession, although in sharp contrast he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in ’89, two politicians at least giving him subsequent accolades. Labour MP Tony Benn (who was a guest speaker at one of Roy’s many benefit gigs) described RB as “the greatest socialist folksinger of his generation”, while Culture Minister Chris Smith declared him “one of the world’s best carriers of the people’s message”; an MBE was duly granted BAILEY in 2000, an MBE that was returned six years later in his protest against the government’s foreign policy in Palestine and Lebanon.
Dutiful to the plights of the afflicted and disillusioned, BAILEY maintained a healthy degree of recording output in the 90s, collaborative sets with Stalking Horses, The BAND OF HOPE (with piper Steafan Hannigan, CARTHY of course, KIRKPATRICK and DAVE SWARBRICK), ROBB JOHNSON and a handful of solo sets kept BAILEY in esteemed profile. The 00s were equally productive for the unassuming BAILEY; diverse albums with said MP Tony Benn (THE WRITING ON THE WALL: LIVE AT CAMBRIDGE 2000 {*6}) and MARTIN SIMPSON & JOHN KIRKPATRICK (SIT DOWN & SING {*6}) found the minstrel gain even further respectability both in music and political circles. On 2009’s BELOW THE RADAR {*7}, solo-billed BAILEY was again accompanied by KIRKPATRICK, along with MARTIN SIMPSON, ANDY CUTTING, Donald Grant, Andy Seward, David Ferrard and Kellie While; with much the same line-up (plus the addition of Val and their grandchildren), ROY BAILEY’s TOMORROW (2010) {*5} was enjoyable easy-listening.
Even after a digi-EP in 2014, entitled `Stories’, and a concert set LIVE AT TOWERSEY FESTIVAL 2015 (2016) {*6}, BAILEY was still playing to packs crowds everywhere he went. Sadly, his final performance at that same festival in 2018 was his last, as he passed away due to heart failure on 20th November.
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Aug2015-Nov2018

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