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Victor Bailey (musician)

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Victor Bailey
Bailey in 2008
Bailey in 2008
Background information
Born(1960-03-27)March 27, 1960
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedNovember 11, 2016(2016-11-11) (aged 56)
Stafford, Virginia, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, pop
Years active1980–2016
LabelsAtlantic, Zebra, ESC, Chesky
Formerly ofWeather Report

Victor Bailey (March 27, 1960 – November 11, 2016) was an American bass guitar player.[1] He was the bassist for Weather Report during their final years from 1982 to 1986, and launched a solo career in 1988. As a musician, Bailey was known for his signature scat-bass solos.[2]


Born in Philadelphia, on 27 March 1960, Victor Randall Bailey was raised by a highly musical family. His father, Morris Bailey Jr., was an active musician and composer, while his uncle, Donald "Duck" Bailey, was a jazz drummer, who played on numerous Blue Note records (e.g., Jimmy Smith Trio, Hampton Hawes, Carmen McRae, Dizzy Gillespie).[3] As a child, Bailey played the drums, but ultimately switched to bass guitar after the bassist in his neighborhood band walked out of a band practice. Because young Victor took an immediate liking to the instrument, his father encouraged him to become a bass player.[4] Beginning in 1978, at the age of 18, Bailey attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston after being disqualified from naval service due to asthma.[5]

Like his father, Bailey suffered from Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease for most of his adult life. As the disease progressed, Bailey began using a cane to offset his weakened legs. The weakness finally spread to his upper body, necessitating his 2015 retirement from performing and from his teaching position at Berklee College of Music.[6] He died on 11 November 2016 in Stafford, VA,[7] likely from complications from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).[8]

Bailey played a 1986 Pensa-Suhr J-4 koa bass and a fretless Ibanez Roadstar among others. His instruments were auctioned by Skinner. The J-4 sold for $10,455 US[9] Bailey had a series of remarkable contributions as the main bassist for American jazz fusion band Weather Report, for which he played on four of their studio albums between 1983 and 1986.

Fender released a Victor Bailey Signature acoustic bass guitar,[10] as well as the Victor Bailey Jazz Bass (Artist series), available in 4, 5-string, fretted and fretless versions.[11] Bailey also used Markbass amplifiers.[12]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

As a member[edit]

Weather Report

Steps Ahead

  • Magnetic (Elektra, 1986)
  • Vibe (NYC, 1995)

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ "CBW: Larry Coryell/Victor Bailey/Lenny White "Traffic" Chesky". The Washington Post. February 9, 2007. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
  2. ^ Harris M. Lentz III (2016). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2016. McFarland. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-476-67031-7.
  3. ^ "Passing of Donald Bailey". Facebook. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Interview with bass player Victor Bailey". For Bass Players Only. 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  6. ^ "Victor Bailey". Facebook. October 30, 2015. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  7. ^ "Victor Bailey, RIP". VictorBailey.com. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Health Update, Sept. 27th 2016". Facebook. Archived from the original on 2022-02-26. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  9. ^ 1986 Pensa-Suhr J-4 koa
  10. ^ "Gear and equipment". Victor Bailey. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  11. ^ Fender (2008-03-05), Fender® Victor Bailey Signature Basses, archived from the original on 2021-12-19, retrieved 2016-04-26
  12. ^ "MARKBASS - Victor Bailey". MARKBASS Bass Amplification.

External links[edit]