I have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect as I walked up the stairs into his recording studio in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. I was greeted by a smiling face and a warm handshake. He told me to sit down and make myself at home. I took a seat on a leather couch that sat straight across from where he does his engineering and producing in his studio lovingly named Razzy’s Hit House. It is a 2 Bedroom bungalow converted into a very cool and vibe-y recording studio.
I asked permission to turn on my digital recorder and we got started right away as I had a feeling this sweet man had a lot to say. I was not disappointed.
Q So you said that you’ve had this place since 1999?
A I think yes, 98 or 99. I know it was before 2000.
Q And you are producing music here, yours and others?
A I was in here all last week with some guys out of Macon, Georgia and I do a lot of album projects and demos and masters. We are pretty well equipped to do everything.
Q And you have been doing that since you first bought the place?
A I have been doing it in other people’s studios since 1968. I started producing and recording and everything. As an artist I had my first record back when I was nineteen. I think that was 1958 or something like that. Then through the sixties I had a few labels deals here and there that didn’t pan out and then in the early seventies we put out a song, a business friend of mine out in Macon, Georgia put out a song, it was called, “I Hate Hate,” and we got a pretty good deal out of that. It was on the Aquarian Record Label and MGM Records which was in operation back then. They bought the masters from us.
Q So we have had a sad time in Nashville lately. Were you friends with George Jones?
A Yeah. I have known him over the years and visited with him. I didn’t ever go on tour with him. I went on tour with Charlie Pride and Dolly Parton and Alabama and all those people like that but I didn’t ever work with George Jones.
Q So what do you have going on now?
A I am mixing some things for the guys down in Georgia that I worked with last week.
Q Do you have anything going on for yourself musically?
A I have an album I have been working on for a about 2 years but every time I get to working on it I get booked in the studio or I have to go somewhere or something interrupts me. It’s been a long time project but it is going to be a good time album. The name of it is going to be, “Stray Dog Symphony.” I’ve got several different people singing on it like we are all just stray dogs. I wrote a song for the album too. I have Dobie Gray and a whole bunch of different people like Bobby G. Rice and others on it with me.
Q That has written songs for the album?
A No, that are on the album.
Q You have Dobie Gray on the album?
A Yeah, we did Rainy Night in Georgia.
Q Wow, we just lost him too not that long ago.
Q So you have got to get busy and get this thing out?
A Yeah I know it.
Q Do you have a timeline for when this will be released?
A Well it should be released all ready. I’ve got the recordings finished and I have got to do the artwork and the label credits and the songwriters, etc.
Q So it’s safe to say it is going to be released as soon as you can get it released?
A Yeah. I love music; I have been doing it all my life.
Q Tell me about that. I want you to tell me a story that you never told anybody else?
A I don’t think I’ve ever told it in this way but I have been working on a book about my life story and I’ve written the first of it about my childhood and all that stuff so I think I am going to rewrite that and I am going to start it off, I was standing on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry and did one by Roy Acuff, Cannonball and then I turned around and did one by Ernest Tubbs and I turn around again and the crowd was going crazy and about that time Momma called me and said it’s suppertime, supper is ready so I had to run up the driveway because I had been standing on a big ole tree stump singing with my stick.
Q So in your imagination you were on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
Q That’s so sweet. See, I saw it as you were saying it. Very good, very good.
A But anyway I started playing when I was about twelve. I picked up the harmonica and I started playing it, Momma bought me a real nice harmonica. By the time I was thirteen I had a chance to start learning how to play the guitar and so I put the harmonica aside because I liked the guitar better and I have been playing ever since. It was one of those things we were talking about yesterday where they said I had stayed out of music for twenty years. There has NEVER been a time I wasn’t involved in music one way or the other you know? The said after my first two kids were born I took twenty years off. That’s ridiculous. I have never been away from music ever.
Q So someone said you were out of music for twenty years, a publication said this?
Q Well, so here we will tell them they are wrong. Everyone, Razzy Bailey has NEVER been away from the music business. He started as a little boy of 12 with a harmonica and he has continued non-stop all the way through.
Q But professionally you were nineteen?
A Well I got a chance to cut my first single when I was nineteen. It wasn’t a big record label but we had good distribution around Alabama and Georgia.
Q Where are you from?
A I am from Alabama originally.
Q Okay. So you went from there to where? There has to be something that happened between Momma, the harmonica, the guitar and then actually recording that first song. What happened in between? Were you out doing gigs?
A Oh yeah. Yeah we played every weekend. I was still in High School of course but we played on the weekends and we had a High School band and we played a lot of parties and things a young band plays. Then on Saturday night I had a regular thing with an older band and back then we played Square Dances and they called it Square Dancing and Round Dancing. It would be something like a school auditorium or a National Guard Armory or something like that where the dances would be held.
Q And you were singing lead and playing guitar?
A Well best that I remember there was a couple of other singers in the band but that was during the time that Rockabilly was coming on and I was the only one in the band that could do things like Blue Suede Shoes and Rock Around the Clock and See You Later Alligator and all that kind of stuff.
Q What a wonderful time.
A Yeah, it was a wonderful time.
Q A wonderful time to be involved in music and really watching music grow into something very different and now we long for it to go back to the way it was.
Q Isn’t that something?
A Well when I was probably about fifteen I always had a guitar around somewhere. Then I went through the thing when my voice was changing and I couldn’t sing so I had to quit singing so I would practice on my guitar even more. One day when Chet Atkins had all those hits like Meet Mr. Callaghan and Country Gentlemen and on and one. He was always having hit instrumentals out and so one day in the summertime I practiced all day on a Chet Atkins song, I think it was Country Gentlemen so when Daddy came in I said Daddy I want to show you something. So I sat there and played that thing note for note and I said how do you like that and he said well it really disappoints me. I said, disappoints you and he said yeah there is already a Chet Atkins. You need to be the first something; you don’t need to be another somebody else.
Q You need to be you.
A Yeah and I think that was the best piece of advice anybody ever gave me at that time because I started to develop my own style.
Q You were about fifteen when that happened?
Q So you had really supportive parents?
A Oh gosh yeah. Daddy was always trying to do something. In fact he got me hooked up with the guy that put the first record out. Then Daddy went to all the radio stations and got them playing it.
A He was just a real big help to me.
Q Lovely stories. We have covered your beginnings, how many children do you have?
A I have four.
A Yeah. Me and my wife got married pretty young and we had my oldest daughter and then a year and a half later we had a son and then we finally figured out what was causing them. (laughter)
Q What was causing that hah?
A So ten years later..
Q So ten years later, you took a break?
A We had twins.
A My oldest daughter’s name is Tammy and my son is named Mike and daughters are named Jenita and Jenevra.
Q Very cool names. Do a lot of people know you have a set of twins?
A Yeah, when they got a little older and I was on the road at the time I would just take them on the bus with me during the summertime. I took them to Vegas and California and everywhere?
Q Did you bring them up on stage and show everybody your little girls?
A Sometimes. I still did that song, “I Hate Hate,” and on the original record it had little kids singing in the background so I would get them to come up and sing it with me.
Q Do you have any pictures of that?
A I probably have somewhere. I can look for them.
With that I had to stop him because we could have talked all day. Be looking for new music from Razzy Bailey as soon as he can get it done.
You can check him out on: http://www.reverbnation.com/razzybaileyhits and follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/razzybailey