Heritage Quay’s latest exhibition explores the life and work of Derek Bailey (1930-2005), a guitarist who was a major force in the development of Free Improvisation.
Bailey’s remarkable musical journey began in Sheffield, with a young lad entranced by the music he heard on his uncle’s radio, and fascinated by the guitar. After leaving school he began to pick up work as a musician, and by the 1960s was playing for big names including Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield and Morecambe and Wise. Around 1969 he left behind this successful – though always precarious – career as a commercial musician to concentrate solely on Free Improvisation. Intent on a sort of music which went beyond style and genre, he worked with people all over the world, ran a record label, Incus, and brought very different people together for spontaneous, organic music-making.
Heritage Quay’s latest exhibition tells this story, using photographs, notebooks, letters, programmes, and the plectrums Bailey made himself using dental acrylic. Many of the items on display have never been seen by the public before. They are all part of the Derek Bailey Archive, which is cared for by Heritage Quay.
The exhibition is part of our Kirklees Year of Music series. It is free, and open Monday to Saturday from 14 August to 30 September. Heritage Quay is at the heart of the University of Huddersfield Campus, and there are details of how to find us here: Directions | Heritage Quay