Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 26

BARRY BAILEY
Remembering ARS

T

o many fans of Southern rock, the
Atlanta Rhythm Section swam against
the stream. Its music was less blues-based,
it wasn't headquartered in Macon, Georgia,
and it wasn't on the Capricorn label. Still, it
recorded several hit songs and albums, and
was an impressive live act.
As the band was gaining foothold, lead
guitarist Barry Bailey paid little attention to
which band was signing with which label, in
part because their producer/manager, Buddy
Buie, had strong relationships with some of
the majors.
"The Macon and Atlanta scenes were two
different worlds to me, in spite of what they
had in common," he said. "So, Capricorn was
not much of a consideration - if any at all."
He recalls being part of a vibrant music scene
in the mid '60s, when he began taking on studio
work and backing singers on caravan tours.
"There was Hydra, with Spencer Kirkpatrick
and other good players, and there was the

Nightshadows with Little Phil Ross," he said.
"The Hampton Grease Band opened for ARS
in '71 at a club in Underground Atlanta, which
was our first or second booked show."
Before coming together as a unit, Bailey
and his ARS associates had plenty of studio
experience under their belt. Their home base
was Studio One, in Doraville, Georgia, and
he fondly recalled many of the guitars he
used therein.
"When I started studio work, I bought a
really nice Telecaster and a Precision Bass,"
he remembered. "Both played and sounded
great, but the Tele was stolen from the studio
during the early days of ARS, and I sold the
bass to Paul Goddard. Generally speaking, I
used the Tele or a Strat on basic tracks and a
Les Paul Deluxe for overdubbing solos, if I
hadn't already done them live. On the road, I
used the Les Paul almost exclusively."
The Les Paul Deluxe was acquired from the
ARS' other guitarist, J.R. Cobb.

VINTAGE GUITAR

26

December 2016

Berry Bailey: Willie G. Moseley.

Bailey with his first electric,
a '59 Les Paul Junior.

Bailey's style was distinguished by licks
based on chords. Instrumentals like "Bless My
Soul" and a cover of Grant Green's "Blues in
Maude's Flat" are exemplary.
"I've always been very much of a chord person," he averred. "In fact, I learned to play off
of chords, as opposed to scales. I listened to a
lot of players like Grant Green, Kenny Burrell,
and Wes Montgomery, when I wasn't listening
to blues players like Freddie King, Albert King,
and B.B. King. Besides Chet Atkins albums,
I used to play along with the Johnny Smith
album that included 'Moonlight in Vermont,'
which was chords almost straight through."
Another unique facet of Bailey's playing
was his economical use of pinch harmonics.
"I stumbled upon them by accident, and
let whatever note was produced stand on its
own," he recounted. "Eventually, I learned
how to be more specific about note selection,
to the point some producers or engineers
would suggest injecting one here or there
on an overdub."
The ARS had a more laid-back sound than
other Southern rock bands, but the live Are
You Ready? album featured several high-energy
versions of tunes that had previously been
delivered in a smoother rock style.
"It was mostly a demonstration of how
those songs and performances could take on
another life - a harder-edged life - in a live
environment," Bailey said.
Gigs over the decades included a performance at the White House.
Bailey put in 30 years with the ARS before
retiring after being diagnosed with multiple
sclerosis.
"I'd been diagnosed a year before, but
symptoms were showing a year or so prior.
The diagnosis notwithstanding, I was pretty
much ready to get off of the road and enjoy
life in the new home and farm that my wife
and I had recently built."
Today, he still plays for enjoyment, and has a
nice collection of electric and acoustic instruments. He still owns all but two of the guitars
to which he has ever claimed ownership; his
first was a Silvertone acoustic, followed by a
'59 Les Paul Junior long ago modified with an
Fender pickup near the neck joint.
"There are four Les Pauls in my collection,
along with the Junior, a Byrdland, a couple of
Gibson hollowbody jazz guitars, a couple of
prototypes from when I was a Gibson endorser,
a Strat and a couple other Fenders, a Gretsch
Country Gentleman, and several acoustics
including the $20 Silvertone I received on my
12th birthday in 1960. I still play - not as much
as I'd like, but about as much as I'm able," he
said. - Willie G. Moseley


http://youtu.be/6Vwx8C43IGA?list=PL1293D4CB8DBFF1B9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 2
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