Victor Bailey

Victor Bailey posing with his bass guitar.

Victor Bailey posing with his bass guitar.

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


Born in Philadelphia, on March 27, 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). 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. 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.

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.He died on November 11, 2016 in Stafford, VA, likely from complications from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

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

As leader

Bottom’s Up (Atlantic, 1989)
Petite Blonde (with Dennis Chambers, Mitch Forman, Chuck Loeb, and Bill Evans) (1992)
Low Blow (Zebra, 1999)
That’s Right! (ESC, 2001)
Electric (with Larry Coryell and Lenny White) (Chesky, 2005)
Traffic (with Larry Coryell and Lenny White) (2006)
Slippin’ ‘n’ Trippin’ (2010)


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