Chris Bailey was more than a punk pioneer, a trailblazer of rock’s most incendiary genre, a poet with a chip on his shoulder.

He was a wonderful singer, maybe the best rock star of his time. And leader of the best Australian band.

Those are some of the thoughts shared by Nick Cave, who, along with an entire generation of rockers from the land Down Under, had his fuse lit by the Saints at their prime.

Cave reflected on the legacy of Bailey, frontman of the Saints, who died Saturday (April 9) at the age of 65.

In the late 1970s, writes Cave on his Red Hand Files blog, “the Saints came down from Brisbane and tore their way through Sydney and Melbourne with their famously anarchic shows.”

He continues, “it is impossible to exaggerate the resulting radical galvanizing effect on the Melbourne scene – these legendary performances changed the lives of so many people, myself included.”

Cave has photographic proof to back it up. His post is illustrated by a glorious photo taken in 1977 by Rennie Ellis, capturing Bailey, taking a breather with his back to the audience, a young Cave among those looking-on in awe.

The photo, Cave recounts, is a time capsule, capturing a master of his art, and the rookie transfixed, having the realization that “this is what I want to do and this is who I want to be.”

Considered one of the first and most influential songs of the punk era, the Saints have been described by Bob Geldof as one of the three bands which changed the 1970s, the others being the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. Their career exploded out the gate with “(I’m) Stranded,” a burly, hyper-energized single that captured the punk movement in three-and-a-half sweaty minutes.

The Saints (2001) and Cave (2007) have been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. The singers became friends, working together on several projects over the years, including the collaborative song “Bring It On,” which appeared on Cave’s 2003 album Nocturama.

“So, it is with immense sadness that we learn of Chris Bailey’s death,” writes Cave. “Too many great singers have died recently and, once again, I don’t have the words that will in any way adequately measure the extent of our collective loss. I can only simply repeat, for the record, that, in my opinion, the Saints were Australia’s greatest band, and that Chris Bailey was my favourite singer.”

Read the full post here.

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