80s Country Topper Razzy Bailey Passes

Razzy Bailey. Photo: Courtesy of Robert K. Oermann

Singer-songwriter Razzy bailey, who placed over 30 singles on the country charts in 1976-89, died at his home in Goodlettsville on Wednesday, August 4, at the age of 82.

Bailey had 13 top 10 hits and five No.1 smashes, including “Midnight Hauler”, “Lovin ‘Up a Storm” and “She Left Love All Over Me”. He was nominated Billboard‘sn ° 1 country chart artist from 1981.

Born Erastus Michael Bailey, he grew up in rural poverty in Alabama. The artist was named after his father, “Rasie” (he later changed the spelling so that people pronounce his name correctly). The elder Bailey was a farmer who played guitar and banjo and was an amateur songwriter. Razzy Bailey was also influenced by the blues music played by the black farm laborers he worked with in his youth.

He formed his first country band at the age of 15 and began recording four years later in 1958. Bailey’s career has been characterized by decades of relentless determination. For the next 20 years he recorded for labels such as B&K, Peach, Lowery, ABC, Boblo, 123 (distributed by Capitol), Aquarian, MGM, Capricorn and his own Erastus imprint, all to no avail.

At some point in his trip, he became completely disillusioned, frustrated, and disheartened. He gave up music and tried working as a delivery truck driver, insurance salesman, butcher, and furniture salesman. He had married as a teenager and was desperate to support a young and growing family. His wife, Sandra, urged him to pursue his musical dreams. They went to see a psychic who predicted that his fortune would soon change.

They did it. In 1976, Dickey Lee recorded a major country hit with Bailey’s song “9,999,9999 Tears”. The following year, Lee also hit the charts with Bailey’s “Peanut Butter”. These successes rekindled Music Row’s interest in him.

Producer / Editor Bob Montgomery had been behind the board during Bailey’s stint on Capricorn. He brought the singer-songwriter to RCA Records. With Montgomery in production, Razzy Bailey debuted on the label with the top 10 “What Time Do You Have to Be Back To Heaven” in 1978.

The songwriters of the Montgomery staff provided Razzy Bailey with the following hits “Tonight She’s Gonna Love Me (Like There Was No Tomorrow)”, “If Love Had a Face”, “I Can’t Get Enough of You” and the blues “I Ain’t Got No Business Doing Business Today” in 1979.

Bailey scored his first No. 1 hit with “Loving Up a Storm” in 1980 at the age of 41. It was the first of five successive peaks of the 1980-82 charts – “I Keep Coming Back”, “Friends”, “Midnight Hauler” and “She Left Love All Over Me” being the others.

In the early 1980s, he also composed with “True Life Country Music”, “Love’s Gonna Fall Here Tonight”, “Scratch My Back”, “Every Time You Cross My Mind (You Break My Heart)” and his own composition. “Anywhere There is a Jukebox. By the time of his third album RCA, he was also recording songs co-written with his father, a unique songwriting partnership in country music.

Razzy Bailey won Best Newcomer awards from Cash Box and Record World, as well as a CMA nomination. His humility, his good time energy and his warmth made him loved by the public during concerts. It has made headlines abroad in England at the Wembley Festival, as well as in shows in Australia, Croatia and New Zealand.

He showcased his distinctive, sandblasted voice on Austin City Limits, Hee Haw, That Nashville Music, The CMA Awards, The John Davidson Show, The Mike Douglas Show (which he co-hosted), Nashville Now, Solid Gold, Nashville After Hours, Church Street Station, Pop Goes the Country, Farm Aid ’94, Nashville On the Road, Country Comes Home and other national broadcasts.

In 1984, Razzy Bailey moved to MCA Records and began to focus on his r & b influences. He released country singles of soul songs “In the Midnight Hour”, “Knock On Wood” and “Starting All Over Again”. His tribute Blues juice 1989 album crowned this phase.

He had started producing his own albums in the mid-1980s and had also started recording more of his own compositions. These included “After the Great Depression” (1983), “Modern Day Marriages” (1985), “Old Blue Yodeler” (1986), “Rockin ‘in the Parkin’ Lot” (1986) and “Unattended Fire” ( 1988). His last single in the charts was “But You Will” from 1989, which he co-wrote.

After turning 50, Bailey recorded for smaller labels, including his own label SOA (Sounds of America). The year following the recording of his 1992 collection Fragile handle with care, his wife Sandra committed suicide. Hoping to find a fresh start, they had moved to Decatur, AL. Following her death, Razzy Bailey returned to Music City.

In 1997, his obscure 20-year recording of “The Love Bump” became a hit in Japan. In 2008, a Thai artist named Bird Thongchai achieved dance-mix success overseas with Bailey’s “9,999,9999 Tears”.

Razzy Bailey has resumed his own recording career with collections such as Razzy Unboxed (1998), Your unfaithful heart (1999), Good time damn (2008) and California whiskey (2009). During the last years of his career, he recorded with Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Mickey Gilley, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson and Dobie Gray, among others.

Bailey has been noted for mentoring new songwriters and budding country artists. This kept him active as a record producer until the 2000s. He was involved in a car accident last November that broke his back in two places.

Razzy Bailey is survived by his wife and manager, Faye Bright Bailey, his daughters Tammy, Jenita, Jenevra, Teressa and Paula, his sons Rasie and Douglas and 13 grandchildren and six great grandchildren as well as his sister Vanda and a host of extended family members.

Visitations will be held Thursday, August 12 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Spring Hill Funeral Home in Nashville. A service of life celebration will be held on Friday, August 13 at 1 p.m. at the funeral home with family receiving friends and visitors for two hours prior to that. Interment will follow at Spring Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made on behalf of Razzy Bailey to the Music Health Alliance.

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