Roy Bailey MBE (born 20 October 1935, London), is an English socialist folk singer. Colin Irwin from the music magazine Mojo said Bailey represents "the very soul of folk's working class ideals... a triumphal homage to the grass roots folk scene as a radical alternative to the mainstream music industry."
Bailey began his musical career in a skiffle band in 1958, and later joined folk supergroup the Three City Four featuring Leon Rosselson, as a replacement for Martin Carthy. His first solo album was released in 1971.
He has performed a number of songs by the American singer-songwriter Si Kahn and is also renowned as a singer of children's songs, often using material written by his old partner Leon Rosselson. Oats & Beans & Kangaroos is an album of children's songs performed by Roy & Val Bailey with Leon Rosselson.
In 2003, Bailey and Tony Benn were awarded "Best Live Act" at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for their programme Writing on the Wall, later an album. Tony Benn cited Roy Bailey as "the greatest socialist folk singer of his generation."
In the 2000 Honours List, he received the MBE for Services to Folk Music. On 23 August 2006, he returned the MBE in protest at the British government's foreign policy with regard to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. By doing so he joined the list of people who have declined a British honour.
He contributed vocals to Chumbawamba's 2008 album The Boy Bands Have Won, on the track "Word Bomber", a song about the London suicide attacks in 2005. He also joined the band on stage to sing the song, on their farewell Leeds show in October 2012.
In 2016, Roy released his first live album, Live At Towersey Festival 2015, which was recorded in secret at the festival and featured guest appearances from Martin Simpson and Andy Cutting. The album contained songs written by Si Kahn, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, John Tams, Robb Johnson and others. Roy appeared at the very first Towersey Festival in 1965 and his now established Monday afternoon concert regularly draws a crowd of around 1,000.
Roy Bailey is an Emeritus Professor of Social Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. He is also the patron of Towersey Village Festival, Shepley Spring Festival and the Music on the Marr Festival based in the village of Castle Carrock, Cumbria. He is the father-in-law of Martin Simpson, a singer and guitarist, whose wife Kit is Bailey's daughter.