Victor Bailey Faces Challenges; Stays Strong
Berklee prof suffers from muscle disorder
By David Sands Oct. 31, 2015
Former Weather Report bass player Victor Bailey has just disclosed that he’s been struggling for several decades with a neurological disorder that resembles muscular dystrophy.
The musician, who teaches for the Bass Department of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, broke the news of his illness in Facebook post Friday.
“To everyone who has been wondering why you haven’t seen or heard from me it’s time for me to let you know what’s going on,” he said. “Quite simply I am just not in the best of health.”
Bailey then revealed that he’s been dealing with a condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease for the last 25 years. The disorder is characterized by a progressive loss of muscle tissue and sensation in different areas of the body, especially the feet and legs.
In his message, the bassist said that the disease has progressed from his lower extremities to his upper body. He added that his arms and hands are now to weak to perform.
“I need help with all daily living activities so for the past three months I have been living at an assisted living facility in Newton Massachusetts,” he continued in his message. “I have taken a leave of absence from Berklee College of music and from touring… It is possible that I can get stronger again so please send me positive energy. I’ll keep you posted.”
Steve Bailey, Chair of Berklee’s Bass Department contacted FBPO on Saturday afternoon to share his concern for his colleague. In an exclusive statement, he also talked about their lengthy friendship and Bailey’s contributions to the Bass Department:
“Personally we go back 33 years, when he foiled my audition with Weather Report… to quote Jaco when I asked him if he could find out why my audition and plane ticket were delayed. He called back and said, ‘I have good news and bad news… the bad news is that they already have a bass player…the good news is that his last name is also Bailey.’ That’s how I first became aware of Victor. When we finally met several years later, he referred to me as Cuz.. and that is how we call each other, ever since. His addition to the Berklee faculty, his alma mater, has been an amazing source of information, inspiration, and instigation, both for our students and BBD faculty.”
A natural musician, Victor Bailey has played the bass since he was a youth. He picked up the instrument intuitively after a vacancy opened up in a neighborhood band. Equally at ease with jazz, fusion and pop music, he’s recorded and toured with an incredible roster of artists over the years that includes Sonny Rollins, LL Cool J, Madonna, Pharoah Sanders and Lady Gaga. Bailey’s latest solo album, Slippin’ ‘n’ Trippin’
, was released in 2010.