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DeFORD BAILEY: A LEGEND LOST Photos of DeFord Bailey Courtesy of, L-R: Dennis Wile; Les Leverett; David Morton
 
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Influences
Black Hillbilly Music
Early 1920s Music

Early 1920s Music

In Nashville in the early 1920s, DeFord was exposed to a variety of different music genres, including pop, blues, jazz, and vaudeville. During his free time, DeFord would frequent Nashville's theaters and attractions.

One of his favorite spots was the Bijou Theater in downtown Nashville. The Bijou was the major black theater in town. It was there that DeFord heard some of the early greats in jazz and blues, and also where he picked up a few tunes. He played at the Bijou on occasion, once opening up for Bessie Smith.

The Bijou's owner offered DeFord the chance to tour with the other black performers. Touring had a reputation for being extremely rough and potentially dangerous. After much thought, DeFord decided it was not smart for a young, inexperienced, barely four-foot-ten, 100-pound man to go out on his own. He turned down the offer.


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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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