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Bassist Victor Bailey Dies at 56

Virtuoso followed Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report

Victor Bailey, the virtuoso electric bassist and educator best known as the final bass player in Weather Report, following Jaco Pastorius, died on the morning of Nov. 11. He was 56, and had long suffered with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, essentially a form of muscular dystrophy that ran in his family.

Bailey was born and raised in Philadelphia, by a family with heavyweight music credentials. His father, Morris Bailey, was a writer, arranger and producer important to the renowned Philadelphia R&B scene of the 1960s and ’70s, and his credits included Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, Nina Simone, Patti LaBelle, the Stylistics, Billy Paul and Blue Magic. His uncle was Donald Bailey, a favorite drummer of organ legend Jimmy Smith’s. Victor started out as a drummer but took up bass later on, when the bass player in one of his adolescent bands quit. As he recalled earlier this year in an interview with JT‘s Bill Beuttler, Bailey was a natural. “My dad, who never came downstairs while I was playing with my friends, came downstairs and said, ‘Who’s that playing bass?'” Bailey remembered. “He said, ‘You should be a bass player.’ I was actually filling and improvising. I could pretty much pick up and play any instrument, but the bass, for reasons I don’t even know, I just felt really connected with it. Once I picked it up I never put it down.”

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