Derek Bailey

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The Independent Online

Regrettably, Steve Voce's obituary of Derek Bailey [29 December] contained a number of inaccuracies, writes Dominic Lash.

To single out two of the most significant: Bailey did not found Incus Records with Paul Rutherford and Barry Guy, but rather with the saxophonist Evan Parker and percussionist Tony Oxley. Also, Voce states that Bailey "became a professional musician in Sheffield during the Fifties, working mostly at music that he didn't like". To quote Bailey himself, from an interview published in John Corbett's 1994 book Extended Play, this only happened when he began to do studio work in the late Sixties (alongside his developing involvement in free improvisation):

But I sorta hated it, and I'd never hated any musical work I'd done before. I'd disliked some of the music, but I'd never hated the job.

Voce paints Bailey as a devoted avant-gardist who only played commercial music to pass the time until he could make a living playing improvisational music. He was actually an extremely practical musician, directly engaged in the creativity of making music by playing an instrument. It was only with the increasing standardisation and mechanisation of the music industry during the Sixties that his interests began to turn to more radical contexts.