Be-Bop Deluxe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Be Bop Deluxe)
Jump to: navigation, search
Be-Bop Deluxe
Origin Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England
Genres Art rock, glam rock, protopunk, new wave
Years active 1972–1978
Labels Harvest
Past members Bill Nelson
Robert Bryan
Nicholas Chatterton-Dew
Ian Parkin
Richard Brown
Simon Fox
Paul Jeffreys
Milton Reame-James
Charlie Tumahai
Andrew Clark

Be-Bop Deluxe were an English progressive rock band who achieved critical acclaim and moderate commercial success during the mid to late 1970s.

The band's sound emerged as a mixture of glam rock, prog rock and straightforward rock and roll. Science fiction imagery was common in Bill Nelson's lyrics, along with the more traditional themes of love and the human condition (albeit often hidden beneath Nelson's quirky lyrical and musical metaphors).


Be-Bop Deluxe was founded in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, by singer, guitarist and principal songwriter Bill Nelson in 1972. The founding lineup consisted of Nelson, guitarist Ian Parkin, bassist and vocalist Robert Bryan, drummer Nicholas Chatterton-Dew, and keyboardist Richard Brown (who left in December of that year).[1] They started off playing the West Yorkshire pub scene, with one regular venue being the Staging Post in Whinmoor, Leeds. They never played bebop music, but instead came out of the blues-based British rock scene of the late 1960s. At first they were compared to the more successful David Bowie, but Nelson never tried to copy Bowie, and appears to have disliked comparisons or being pigeon-holed. This artistic restlessness eventually led him to disband Be-Bop Deluxe altogether and pursue less commercial paths of expression.

The initial lineup of the band only lasted for one album, 1974's Axe Victim}, and a short tour. Shortly after this, Nelson dissolved the band and reformed the group with a new lineup, which comprised Nelson, bassist Paul Jeffreys, keyboardist Milton Reame-James, and drummer Simon Fox. However, Jeffreys and Reame-James subsequently departed the band, and New Zealand-born bassist-vocalist Charlie Tumahai (formerly of Australian bands Mississippi and Healing Force) joined in late 1974. This lineup recorded the Futurama album, before being joined by supplementary keyboardist Andrew Clark for the subsequent tour. Clark became an official member of the band after the tour. This lineup continued through subsequent albums until the band's dissolution in 1978. Jeffreys died in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Nelson was acclaimed as one of the finest guitarists in British rock at the time, and the music confirmed that, with his distinctive tones adorning most tracks. Stylistically, the songs took elements from progressive rock, glam rock (the band had flirted with make-up in the early days) and hard guitar rock. Ships in the Night, taken from the band's third album Sunburst Finish, was their most successful single in both the UK and the US.

The first three Be-Bop Deluxe albums are all, in one way or another, named after guitars. "Axe" is slang for a guitar, Futurama is a particular make of guitar while Sunburst Finish refers to a style of finishing for the instrument.

Drastic Plastic, recorded under the influence of punk, new wave and David Bowie's Berlin albums was a substantial stylistic change from the progressive/guitar rock of the early Be-Bop Deluxe. Eager to embrace the changing musical landscape, Nelson dissolved Be-Bop Deluxe and immediately formed a new band, Bill Nelson's Red Noise, retaining Andy Clark on keyboards, and adding Nelson's brother Ian on saxophone, in which capacity the latter had previously contributed to Ships in the Night.

Bill Nelson planned to reform Be-Bop Deluxe in the nineties with his brother Ian Nelson, but the reunion never materialised. The subsequent deaths of Be-Bop Deluxe members Ian Parkin and Charlie Tumahai in 1995, along with the death of Ian Nelson in 2006, mean that a future reunion of the band is unlikely.

In 2011, EMI upgraded the Be-Bop Deluxe catalog remastered by Peter Mew featuring all of the band's original albums. EMI and Bill Nelson chose to include all of the band's albums, single edits and b-sides as part of this release with the exception of the Smile independently released single "Teenage Archangel" / "Jets At Dawn" as part of this set. Although Nelson did not supervise the release he gave final approval on the remasters and agreed to provide a disc of rarities to help sell the set if EMI paid him royalties on the release.

Despite their commercial success, Bill Nelson stated that he had never received royalties for the earlier CD release of his back catalog on EMI until the 2011 CD reissue/remaster of his back catalog.[2]


  • Bill Nelson - lead guitars, keyboards, vocals (1972–1978)
  • Robert Bryan - bass, vocals (1972–1974)
  • Nicholas Chatterton-Dew - drums, percussion & backing vocals (1972–1974)
  • Ian Parkin - rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars (1972–1974; died 1995)
  • Richard Brown - keyboards (1972)
  • Simon Fox - drums, percussion (1974–1978)
  • Paul Jeffreys - bass (1974; died 1988)
  • Milton Reame-James - keyboards (1974)
  • Charlie Tumahai - bass, backing vocals (1974–1978; died 1995)
  • Andrew Clark - keyboards (1975–1978)
1972 1972-1974 1974 1974-1975
  • Bill Nelson - lead guitars, keyboards, vocals
  • Richard Brown - keyboards
  • Robert Bryan - bass, vocals
  • Nicholas Chatterton-Dew - drums, percussion
  • Ian Parkin - rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars
  • Bill Nelson - lead guitars, keyboards, vocals
  • Robert Bryan - bass, vocals
  • Nicholas Chatterton-Dew - drums, percussion
  • Ian Parkin - rhythm guitars, acoustic guitars
  • Bill Nelson - lead guitars, keyboards, vocals
  • Simon Fox - drums, percussion
  • Paul Jeffreys - bass
  • Milton Reame-James - keyboards
  • Bill Nelson - lead guitars, keyboards, vocals
  • Simon Fox - drums, percussion
  • Charlie Tumahai - bass, backing vocals
  • Bill Nelson - lead guitars, keyboards, vocals
  • Simon Fox - drums, percussion
  • Charlie Tumahai - bass, backing vocals
  • Andrew Clark - keyboards


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Live! In The Air Age (1977) UK No. 10[3]Harvest
  • Radioland BBC Radio One Live In Concert (1994) Windsong
  • Tremulous Antenna (2002) (Radioland remastered) Hux

Compilation albums[edit]

  • The Best Of and the Rest Of (1978) 2-LP set; second disc comprises material previously unreleased on LP - Drastic Plastic outtakes plus single A and B sides Harvest
  • Singles A's & B's (1981) Harvest Heritage
  • Bop To the Red Noise (1986) (mixture of BBD and RN material) Dojo
  • The Best Of Be-Bop Deluxe: Raiding The Divine Archive (1990) Harvest
  • Air Age Anthology: The Very Best Of Be-Bop Deluxe (1997) 2-CD set EMI
  • The Very Best Of Be-Bop Deluxe (1998) EMI-Capitol Special Markets
  • Electrotype - The Holyground Recordings 1968-1972 (2001) [Bill Nelson] includes previously unreleased pre-Axe Victim BBD recordings Holyground
  • Postcards From the Future (2004) Caroline
  • Futurist Manifesto (2011) 5-CD set, 1st four discs comprise 5 BBD studio albums plus the singles; fifth disc comprises previously unreleased material from demos and Live! In The Air Age recordings Harvest
  • The Practice Of Everyday Life (2011) [Bill Nelson] 8-CD set, 40 year career retrospective mixture of BBD, RN and BN solo material Esoteric Recordings
  • Original Albums Series (2014) 5-CD set, 5 discs comprise 5 BBD studio albums, tracks as originally released on LP Warner/Parlophone


  • "Teenage Archangel" / "Jets at Dawn" (1973) Smile
  • "Jet Silver and the Dolls Of Venus" / "Third Floor Heaven" (1974) Harvest
  • "Between the Worlds" / "Lights" (1975) Recalled after only one day of sale Harvest
  • "Maid in Heaven" / "Lights" (1975) Harvest
  • "Ships in the Night" / "Crying to the Sky" (1976) - UK No. 23[3] Harvest
  • "Kiss of Light" / "Shine" (1976) Harvest
  • Hot Valves: "Maid In Heaven", "Bring Back The Spark" / "Blazing Apostles", "Jet Silver And The Dolls Of Venus" EP (1976) UK No. 36[3] Harvest
  • "Japan" / "Futurist Manifesto" (1977) Harvest
  • "Panic in the World" / "Blue as a Jewel" (1978) Harvest
  • "Electrical Language" / "Surreal Estate" (1978) Harvest

Compilation singles[edit]

  • Permanent Flame (The Beginners Guide To Bill Nelson) 5-Disc Set (1983) includes previously released BBD, RN and BN solo material Cocteau


  • Picture House (2010) Nelsonica convention DVD includes Be-Bop Deluxe In The South Of France, Nelson's video diary shot during the Drastic Plastic sessions Visuluxe
  • Be-Bop Deluxe At The BBC 1974-78 (2013) 3xCD + DVD Box Set. CDs include previously unreleased material + material from Tramcar To Tomorrow (most tracks) and Tremulous Antenna (all tracks) EMI


  • Reeves, Paul Sutton Music In Dreamland Bill Nelson & Be Bop Deluxe (2008) Helter Skelter publishing ISBN 978-1-900924-04-7


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 45. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]