Bayless Rose

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Bayless Rose was an American singer and guitarist who recorded for Gennett Records in 1930. Although the music industry was highly segregated at the time, it is uncertain whether he was White or African American.


His four titles issued on the Gennett and Champion labels have been seen as stylistically similar to White blues artists such as Dick Justice and Frank Hutchison, and therefore reissued on anthologies of early White country music by County Records[1] and Arhoolie.[2] However, he was included in an anthology of Black Ragtime Blues Guitar and likened stylistically in the sleeve notes by Paul Oliver to Black blues musicians of the Northern Piedmont.[3] Later reissues have been in collections which are neither exclusively Country nor exclusively Blues.[4][5][6]

Rose is known to have accompanied 1930 Gennett recordings of the Black artists Clara Burston, Walter Coleman and (possibly) Cow Cow Davenport. For this reason he is included in the comprehensive pre-1943 Blues and Gospel discography,[7] and excluded from the comprehensive pre-1943 Country Music discography.[8] However, research published by Christopher King in Issue # 12 of the journal 78 Quarterly suggests otherwise. In an interview, Mildred Justice, the daughter of Dick Justice recalled that her father played with a railway worker called Bailey Rose who she described as "quite a bit older than daddy". He was "the man who sounded the most like daddy" and taught her father how to play "Old Black Dog" and "Brown Gal". She twice asserted that Rose was not Black, but did describe him as dark-skinned and Arab looking. King suggests that he may have been a Melungeon.[9]


Matrix Title Issue Some re-issues Notes
16654-A Black Dog Blues unissued
16655-A Salty Dog unissued
16656- Frisco Blues unissued
16732-- Jamestown Exhibition Champion 16772, 50011 Ragtime Blues Guitar (Matchbox), Ragtime Blues Guitar (Document), Old-Time Mountain Guitar (County) Ragtime guitar solo. Title refers to the 1907 Jamestown Tricentennial Exposition.
16733-- Black Dog Blues Gennett 7250, Champion 16307 East Coast Blues (Yazoo), Ragtime Blues Guitar (Matchbox), (Document) Recorded by Dick Justice as Old Black Dog.
Variant of Honey Where You Been So Long popular among White singers
16735-- Original Blues Gennett 7250, Champion 16307 East Coast Blues (Yazoo), Ragtime Blues Guitar (Matchbox), (Document) Similar to Brown Skin Blues by Dick Justice
16737-A Beale Street Blues unissued
16739-- Frisco Blues Champion 16772, 50011 Ragtime Blues Guitar (Matchbox), Ragtime Blues Guitar (Document) Guitar solo. Title may refer to the St. Louis – San Francisco Railway.

Matrix 16734 was Casey Jones Blues (unissued) by Cow Cow Davenport with a guitarist who may have been Bayless Rose.[10] Matrices 12736-A and 16738—were by Ivy Smith accompanied by Davenport but without a guitarist.[11] Rose definitely accompanied Clara Burston on four songs[12] and Walter Coleman on four songs.[13]


  1. ^ Old-Time Mountain Guitar 1927-1931 re-released 1999.
  2. ^ Old Time Southern Dance Music: The String Bands Volume 2. Old Timey LP 101 1965
  3. ^ Ragtime Blues Guitar 1928-30. Matchbox MSE 204 1982
  4. ^ Before The Blues, Vol.1. Yazoo-2015. 1996.
  5. ^ American Primitive Vol. II, Pre-War Revenants (1897-1930). Revenant Records. 2005
  6. ^ Art, And Therefore, Ourselves (Songs, Recipes, And The Old People). Not On Label. 2009
  7. ^ Dixon, Robert M. W., John Godrich & Howard Rye. Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943. Fourth Edition. 1997. Oxford University press. ISBN 0-19-816239-1
  8. ^ Russell, Tony. Country Music Records, A Discography, 1921-1942. 2004. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513989-5.
  9. ^ Summarised in the sleeve notes by Dean Blackwood and Edward Korma to American Primitive Vol. II, and at East Coast Blues
  10. ^ Dixon 1997. p. 198
  11. ^ Dixon 1997. p. 823
  12. ^ Dixon 1997. p. 126
  13. ^ Dixon 1997. p.171