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Posted: December 26th, 2005, by Chris S

I can’t confirm and apologise if wrong but it seems guitarist Derek Bailey died on Christmas Day. My good friend Luke posted the news and a couple of sites seem to know too so unless a bad mistake has happened it looks like the original skronker has gone.
I heard Bailey before I heard Beefheart even courtesy of a friend from my school days called Stuart. He made me a tape of Evan Parker on one side and Bailey’s 80s record “Drop Me Off At 96th” on the other. He wrote on it “This K7 is a bit of a fucker. Bear with it!”. I still have it and I moved through being totally freaked out by it, to not being able to relate to it, to finding it hilarious then baffling then super powerful (with the hilarity remaining).
Bailey mastered technique to make most guitar players shit through their eyes and then decided it was simply not rewarding enough and developed a language on the semi acoustic jazz guitar that seems impenetrable at first but slowly reveals itself as being a plunging-the-depths personal language that actually sounds like incidental music to a Tom n Jerry cartoon. Like Fahey he didn’t wait for someone to put his records out and founded the Incus label pressing records that collectors today would kill for. His sides with drummer Hann Bennick are insane and my personal highlight.
I never saw him play. He was supposed to tour with Fahey under the banner “Guitar Excursions Into The Unknown” but pulled out. I think it was a measure of my tastes that I was shitting it over Bailey playing and had to ask who Fahey was. When he pulled out I wasn’t interested and ended up missing two of my favourite players perform in one foul swoop.
Anyway, expect to read a million better and more gushing (and more sober) tributes but I thought I’d add mine.
As a footnote: Stuart, who got me into Bailey (and Beefheart too!) ended up playing with the man himself recently under the name THF Drenching. A long way from playing drums on Sex Pistols covers with me! XXX

Chris S

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.


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