Really sad news this week that Roy Bailey, folk singer and pioneering sociologist, died on Tuesday of heart failure aged 83. He’d been unwell for some time, but it’s still a horrible shock to know he’s gone. I was lucky enough to meet him a number of times through my friend Robb Johnson, and he was always kind, mischievously entertaining, genuinely interested in you, and very generous with his time: he let me interview him at length for a Masters dissertation a few years ago, and, despite some inconvenience, also made a point of meeting my kids first and giving them a signed CD (they loved his children’s songs).
His work showed a deep interest in the realities of real people’s lives, in the injustices we face, and in triumphs of righteousness and reason. As a gifted performer he was able to bring these stories to light from all over the world – he must have enlightened and inspired thousands over the decades by getting these ideas across in his ever-charming, non-confrontational way. But underneath it all there was always the same unmistakable, profound rage at the cruelties people suffer – yet, crucially, never outweighing an equally open-armed compassion. He sang with such depth and unaffected truth, he was a real and genuine soul singer.
His loss is a huge hole and I’m really grateful to have met him. Love and best wishes to those who knew him. Thanks always, Professor Bailey, for your thoughts, your singing and your time.
There’s a full obituary here. (pic Nicky J Sims/Redferns)