Colin Bailey was born on July 9, 1934, in Swindon, England. His passion for music started to manifest early in his life. By the age of four, he was already playing drums, and he has never stopped ever since. He joined a music school early in his life too, where he studied piano and theory. From age 18, Colin Bailey was already working with English name bands.
Colin Bailey spent most of his time in Australia during the late fifties and worked as a staff drummer at T.V. Channel 9 in Sydney. There are very few drummers in the world who can fit this profile. It’s no wonder that at this time, Bailey accompanied important jazz artists like Dizzy Gillespie and Sarah Vaughan, who visited the country. But it was not until 1960 that Bailey met the most influential person in his life as a drummer.
When Joe Morello visited Australia on tour with Dave B. Quartet, Collin featured in the group that was opening for Dave. He had heard Joe play on a record, but it became a turning point in his drumming career when he saw him perform live.
The way Joe handled the sticks to present George Lawrence Stone‘s finger control technique challenged him to work extra hard. He says … “It changed my life. I put in more many hours each day trying to get as good as he was….” This gave him more control over volume, and he could play softly but powerfully. This is one of the toughest techniques for many drummers. From there, they became great friends and have been so ever since.
Bailey relocated to the USA in 1961. He was a member of the Australian Jazz Quartet. He then joined the Vince Guaraldi Trio after one and a half months of staying in the U.S. That gave him a chance to play infamous clubs around San Francisco. He spent several months at the Trident in Sausalito, among other great clubs in the city. The Trio played alongside jazz legends Life Webster and Gene Ammons.
Bailey had an extensive jazz career in L.A between 1963 and 1979. He went through extensive jazz on the road, playing and recording with big names like Benny Goodman, George Shearing, Chet Baker, Ray Brown, Clare Fischer, and Dave Grusin.
In 1963, the drummer was called as a sub for Tony Williams in the Miles Davis Quintet that had just been formed. His group already had a reservation at It Club in the city. He had spent a few nights at The Scene as he sought to capture Victor Friedman in his band as the pianist. Some people at the club said Tony, who was 16 then, was not old enough to place in such a situation, and Bailey came in to fill the gap.
Over the years, Bailey has worked in different areas that involved drumming. He was a member of Terry Gibbs‘s band between 1964 and 65. In 1965, he embarked on his 12-year studio career in L. A and did extensive T.V., jingles, recording sessions, movies, and many other projects. He has toured the world, playing drums for a different audience, and still does.