LifeNotes: R&B Musician DeFord Bailey Jr. Passes

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DeFord Bailey Jr.

DeFord Bailey Jr. died last Sunday, Sept. 15, in his hometown of Nashville. He was 81 years old.

Bailey was a Nashville r&b music mainstay for decades. He was a regular on the nationally syndicated soul TV show Night Train in 1963-68. His backing band on the show included the guitarist who later became known as Jimi Hendrix. The latter’s guitar style was reportedly influenced by Bailey’s.

DeFord Bailey Jr.’s band also became popular in local nightspots such as The Jolly Roger in Printer’s Alley. He continued to perform regionally throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. He was a musician at the Opryland USA theme park for a time. DeFord Bailey Jr. was the son of early Grand Ole Opry star and Country Music Hall of Fame member DeFord Bailey (1899-1982). His father was known as “The Harmonica Wizard.” “Junior” was frequently called upon by the media to speak about his legendary father. Junior’s son Carlos Bailey is also a professional musician in Nashville.

DeFord Bailey Jr. is survived by sisters Dezoral and Christine, 10 children, 26 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren.

Visitation with the family is this afternoon (Sept. 20) until 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon at Terrell Broady Funeral Home, 3855 Clarksville Pike. The funeral will follow tomorrow’s visitation. It will be held at Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church, 1300 South Street. Interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery, which is also where his father is buried.


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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