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DeFORD BAILEY: A LEGEND LOST Photos of DeFord Bailey Courtesy of, L-R: Dennis Wile; Les Leverett; David Morton
 
TIMELINE
BIOGRAPHY
MUSIC

BIOGRAPHY
EARLY YEARS | OPRY YEARS | POST-OPRY YEARS

DeFord: "God gave every man five senses and I'm going to use them. I ain't gonna work for another man as long as I live."Post-Opry Years
The Shoeshine Business
The New Music Scene
The Finale

Protection for Bad Weather -- Get a Water Proof ShineThe Shoeshine Business

Once he left the Opry, DeFord took up shining shoes full time. The experience was traumatic but it was also a watershed in his life.

"I could make it on my own. I walked out of WSM with a smile. I told myself, ‘God gave every man five senses and I'm going to use them. I ain't gonna work for another man as long as I live.’ I'd work for myself."

His first shop was in the back room of his house on 13th Avenue South, just a few blocks from the Ryman stage, where the Opry continued to play every Saturday night for years to come. Because of his radio fame, white customers would seek him out, no matter where his shop was located. He welcomed them on an equal basis with his black customers, all sitting side by side and waiting their turns.

DeFord said a white barber once asked him how he could mix races up in his shoeshine shop. He said,

"They all know me and all
want to hear the same tune."

Soon DeFord had more business than he could handle. He moved his shop several times and had an elaborate setup, including nine chairs and as many employees on 12th Avenue South. The only sign he had outside his shop simply displayed the price of a shoeshine, but his customers could always find him. >>


Source for the material in this section, including excerpts:
David C. Morton with Charles K. Wolfe, DeFord Bailey: A Black Star in Early Country Music (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1991)

 

EARLY YEARS | OPRY YEARS | POST-OPRY YEARS

Post-Opry Years
1 | 2 | 3

 

 

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