Roy Bailey (folk singer)

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Roy Bailey at Bromyard Folk Festival, 2007

Roy Bailey MBE (born 20 October 1935, London), is an English socialist folk singer. Colin Irwin from the music magazine Mojo said Bailey represents "the very soul of folk's working class ideals... a triumphal homage to the grass roots folk scene as a radical alternative to the mainstream music industry."

Roy began his musical career in a skiffle band in 1958, and later joined folk supergroup the Three City Four featuring Leon Rosselson, as a replacement for Martin Carthy.[1] His first solo album was released in 1971.[2]

He has performed a number of songs by the American singer-songwriter Si Kahn[3] and is also renowned as a singer of children's songs, often using material written by his old partner Leon Rosselson.[4][5]

Bailey worked with Robb Johnson and others on the award-winning Gentle Men album, released in 1997 and rerecorded and released in 2013.[6]

In 2003, Bailey together with Tony Benn were awarded "Best Live Act" at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for their programme Writing on the Wall, later an album.[7] Tony Benn cited Ron Bailey as "the greatest socialist folk singer of his generation."

In the 2005 Honours List, he received the MBE for services to folk music. On 23 August 2006, he returned the MBE in protest at the UK government's foreign policy with regard to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. By doing so he joined the list of people who have declined a British honour.

He contributed vocals to Chumbawamba's 2008 album' The Boy Bands Have Won', on the track 'Word Bomber', a song about the London suicide attacks in 2005. He also joined the band on stage to sing the song, on their farewell Leeds show in October 2012.

Ron Bailey is an Emeritus Professor of Social Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. He is also the patron of Towersey Village Festival, Shepley Spring Festival and the Music on the Marr Festival based in the village of Castle Carrock, Cumbria. He is the father in law of singer Martin Simpson.



  • Smoke and Dust Where the Heart Should Have Been, CBS 1965 [as part of the Three City Four) [reissued 2010]
  • Oats & Beans & Kangaroos, Fontana Records, SFL13061, 1968 (with Leon Rosselson) [children's songs]
  • Roy Bailey, Trailer Records, LER 3021, 1971
  • That's Not The Way It's Got To Be, Fuse Records, CF 251, 1975 (with Leon Rosselson)
  • Love, Loneliness & Laundry, Fuse, CF, 1976 (with Leon Rosselson)
  • New Bell Wake, Fuse, CF262, 1977
  • If I Knew Who the Enemy Was, CF284, 1979 (with Leon Rosselson)
  • Songs of Life from a Dying British Empire, Paredon, 1981[8] (with Leon Rosselson)
  • Hard Times, Fuse, CF382, 1982
  • Freedom Peacefully, Fuse, CF386, 1986
  • Leaves From a Tree, Fuse, CF394, 1988
  • Why Does It Have To Be Me?, Fuse, CF396, 1989 [children's songs]
  • Never Leave A Story Unsung, Fuse, CFCD398, 1991
  • What You Do With What You've Got, Fuse, CFCD399, 1992 [compilation of 1975-1991 material]
  • Business As Usual, Fuse, CFCD400, 1994
  • Rhythm & Reds, Musikfolk, MFO512, 1994 [as Band of Hope - with Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick & John Kirkpatrick][9]
  • New Directions in the Old, Fuse, CFCD402, 1999
  • New Bell Wake, Fuse, CFCD262, 1999
  • Gentle Men, Irregular Records, 1998 (with Robb Johnson)
  • Past Masters, Fuse, CFCD403, 1998
  • Coda, Fuse, CFCD, 2000
  • Up the Wooden Hill, Fuse, CFCD170201, 2002 [children's songs]
  • Writing on the Wall, Fuse, CFCD405, 2004 (with Tony Benn)
  • Sit Down and Sing, Fuse CFCD406 2005
  • Below the Radar, Fuse, CFCD407, 2009
  • Tomorrow, Fuse, CFCD408, 2010 [children's songs]

External links[edit]