Saints singer Chris Bailey dead at 65

Chris Bailey onstage
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images )

Chris Bailey, frontman with influential Australian punk icons The Saints, has died. He was 65. 

The news was confirmed in a social media post from the band (opens in new tab), which read, "It is with great pain in our hearts that we have to inform you about the passing of Chris Bailey, singer and songwriter of The Saints, on April the 9th 2022. Chris lived a life of poetry and music and stranded on a Saturday night."

The mention of "stranded" in the post is a reference to The Saints' classic (I'm) Stranded, the title track and lead single from the band's debut album. One of the earliest punk rock singles, it came out in September 1976, a month before The Damned released New Rose in The UK. In 2001, (I'm) Stranded was named as one of the 30 best Australian Songs of all time by APRA, the Australasian Performing Right Association.

Bailey was born in Nanyuki, Kenya, in 1957, and spent his early years in Northern Ireland before his family moved to Brisbane, Australia. Bailey formed The Saints with two schoolmates, guitarist Ed Kuepper and drummer Ivor Hay, in 1973.  

The Saints' sound was primitive but explosive, with Bailey delivering vocals that combined a trademark punk sneer with the fire of a young Van Morrison. The debut album was powered by Kuepper's Ramones-like riffs, while the follow-up, the brilliant Eternally Yours, expanded the band's ambitions by introducing horns without diluting their sound. And in songs like Know Your Product and No, Your Product, Bailey took corporate culture to task, attracting the ire of parent label EMI, who dropped the band after their third album, Prehistoric Sounds

Bailey continued with The Saints after Kuepper and Hay left in 1979, recording and releasing albums with a variety of members – more than 30 musicians passed through the band's ranks over the years. The band's most recent album, King Of The Sun, was released in 2012. Bailey also embarked on a solo career, releasing five studio albums between 1983 and 2005.    

"One part of me is really proud of the youthful Saints because that first album is very obnoxious and very badly recorded, but it is very sincere," Bailey told Penny Black Music in 2015 (opens in new tab). I don’t know whether it is dated or of its time. I don’t have enough critical distance. 

"In all honesty, I don’t know what I think of it. In certain kinds of moods I can listen to it an and it will make me smile and I will think, 'That’s great.' And then I will listen to other tracks and think, 'What were you thinking of, for fuck’s sake?'"

No cause of death has been confirmed. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 37 years in music industry, online for 24. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.