Bill Nelson (musician)
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[Toronto], 22 October 1977
|Birth name||William Nelson|
18 December 1948 |
Wakefield, Yorkshire, England
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, artist, writer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums, bass, percussion|
|Labels||EMI, Enigma, CBS, Cocteau Records, Twentythree Records, Populuxe Records, Sonoluxe|
|Associated acts||Be-Bop Deluxe, Red Noise, John Cooper Clarke, A Flock Of Seagulls, Monsoon, Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), Yukihiro Takahashi, Masami Tsuchiya, Culturemix, Joe Hisaishi, Dr.Jan (guru), Gary Numan, Skids, Fiat Lux, The Revox Cadets, Orchestra Arcana, David Sylvian, Cabaret Voltaire, Rain Tree Crow, Ramon Tikaram, Roger Eno, Kate St. John, Channel Light Vessel, Nautilus Pompilius, Harold Budd, Fila Brazillia, Bill Nelson and the Lost Satellites, Bill Nelson and his Lighthouse Signal Mechanism Orchestra, Orchestra Futura, Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers, Matt Howarth, Reeves Gabrels|
Yamaha SG 2000
Bill Nelson (born William Nelson, 18 December 1948, Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England) is an English singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer, painter, video artist, writer and experimental musician. He rose to prominence as the chief songwriter, vocalist and guitarist of the rock group Be-Bop Deluxe, which he formed in the 1970s. Nelson has been described as "one of the most underrated guitarists of the seventies art rock movement". In 2015, he was recognised with the Visionary award at the Progressive Music Awards. He currently lives in York.
- 1 Career
- 2 Discography
- 3 Bibliography
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Born to Jean & Walter Nelson, the latter being a musician, he also had a younger brother Ian and two children Elle and Elliot who were likewise involved in music. Ian (1956–2006) collaborated on the Be-Bop Deluxe song "Ships in the Night" and formed the band Fiat Lux; he also played on the 1979 Red Noise album Sound-on-Sound and with the 2004 touring band Bill Nelson and the Lost Satellites. Elle (b. 1978) and Elliot (b. 1981) played in their own band Honeytone Cody between the late 1990s and 2014.
Nelson was educated at the Wakefield College of Art, where he developed an interest in the work of poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. At this time, he was also developing as a musician, drawing upon Duane Eddy as a primary guitar influence.
His first record was a brief contribution on the album A-Austr: Musics from Holyground, with Brian Calvert, Chris Coombs, Ted Hepworth, Mike Levon and Brian Wilson. Levon recorded and produced the album which appeared on Levon's own Holyground Records label in 1970. After that, Nelson appeared in a much more substantial role with Lightyears Away on Astral Navigations released in 1971. On one track, "Yesterday", written by Coombs, Levon recorded Nelson's lead guitars in an acid rock style, supporting Coombs' stylophone riff. This track also gave Nelson his first airplay by John Peel on his national BBC Radio 1 programme in the United Kingdom. Nelson's Holyground recordings were released in February 2001 as Electrotype.
The same year, Nelson's debut solo album Northern Dream, released on his own independent Smile label, drew further attention from Peel which eventually led to Nelson's band Be-Bop Deluxe signing to EMI's Harvest Records subsidiary and releasing Axe Victim in 1974. Nelson replaced the original band members for Futurama in 1975. The lineup of Bill Nelson (guitar), Andrew Clark (keyboards), Charlie Tumahai (bass) and Simon Fox (drums) recorded Sunburst Finish and Modern Music in 1976, the live album Live! In The Air Age in 1977 and their final studio album Drastic Plastic in 1978.
However, Nelson found the structure of a permanent band constricting. An instrumental on Drastic Plastic performed by Nelson (acoustic guitar) and Clark (keyboards) anticipated Nelson's later solo ambient work. Other tracks on that album required Fox record drum parts for use as repeating loop backing tracks in the studio. (Performing these songs live on the subsequent tour, Fox would physically play these repeating patterns on drums). This sowed the seeds for later experimentation by Nelson. 1983's Invisibility Exhibition tour would see Bill Nelson (guitar) and Ian Nelson (sax) improvise to the former's self-produced backing audio (and video) tracks (later released as the Chamber of Dreams album), an approach Nelson would repeat for many solo live performances throughout his career. Playing guitar over pre-recorded backing tracks would bear further fruit in later studio recordings, notably the Painting With Guitars series (2003, 2015) and And We Fell Into A Dream (2007).
In Autumn 1978, Nelson halted the Be-Bop Deluxe project, removed Tumahai and Fox from his immediate working band and replaced the name with the moniker Red Noise (releasing the Sound-on-Sound album in February, 1979). Harvest, who had insisted on naming it "Bill Nelson's Red Noise", refused to release the second Red Noise album Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam which was largely recorded by Nelson with contributions on sax from his brother Ian rather than the more-obviously marketable five-piece band Harvest's execs had understandably expected. It remained unreleased in record company limbo.
Meanwhile, with his producer from Harvest John Leckie, Nelson did some production (and, in Nelson's case, sessions keyboards) work for the band Skids, whose guitarist Stuart Adamson was an admirer of Nelson's musicianship. Fruitful friendships followed. Vocalist Richard Jobson would appear as a support act reading poetry on the Invisibility Exhibition tour. After Adamson's untimely death in 2001, Nelson composed a piece in memory of his departed friend, called simply "For Stuart", which appeared on 2003's The Romance of Sustain Volume One: Painting With Guitars and (in a live version) on 2011's live at Metropolis Studios DVD.
Nelson's manager Mark Rye negotiated with Harvest to buy back some of the unreleased songs for Nelson to release under his own name on his own label, Cocteau Records, which Nelson and Rye had set up. Consequently, in July 1980, Nelson was able to release the single "Do You Dream in Colour?", which after airplay on BBC Radio 1 reached No. 52 in the UK Singles Chart. This debut release on the label persuaded Phonogram to acquire the remaining tracks for Cocteau in order to release Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam as a Bill Nelson album on their subsidiary label Mercury Records in 1981. The release contained bonus disc Sounding The Ritual Echo (Atmospheres for Dreaming) featuring experimental, ambient instrumentals which Nelson had recorded privately at his home. Subsequent Mercury releases included The Love That Whirls, which included a bonus disc of Nelson's soundtrack for The Yorkshire Actors' stage production of Jean Cocteau's 1946 film La Belle et la Bête/Beauty and the Beast. Nelson had already contributed music (and released it under the title Das Kabinet on Cocteau) to the same company's similar adaptation of Robert Wiene's 1920 silent film classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Freed from the demands of a mainstream, commercial record company, Nelson released considerable quantities of singles and LPs on Cocteau throughout the decade, much of it by himself but also a number of singles by other artists, notably Last Man In Europe, A Flock Of Seagulls, The Revox Cadets, Richard Jobson, Q (16), Fiat Lux, Man Jumping and Yukihiro Takahashi. The more ambitious Cocteau releases by Nelson himself included the 4-LP box set of experimental electronic music Trial by Intimacy (The Book of Splendours) and the later ambient 2-LP collection Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights, which contained music informed by Nelson's Gnostic beliefs. In 1989, he released the 4-CD box set Demonstrations of Affection.
He was hired by British synthpop artist Gary Numan to produce his 1983 album Warriors, with Numan claiming that Bill Nelson was his "favourite guitar player, bar none." However, the two musicians failed to maintain a working relationship, and ultimately Nelson chose not to be credited for his production role on the album. Nelson also contributed towards several tracks on David Sylvian's Gone to Earth (1986).
Nelson had bad luck with major record labels in the 1980s. A deal with CBS Records' Portrait imprint went sour, leaving the one album Getting the Holy Ghost Across (US title: On a Blue Wing) with further tracks from that album's sessions issued on the UK mini-LP Living for the Spangled Moment. In the late 1980s, Nelson signed to Enigma Records who went out of business, although they had just re-released his entire Cocteau catalogue.
As the decade ended, Nelson suffered a series of personal setbacks, including a divorce, tax problems and an acrimonious dispute with his manager over his back catalogue rights. In the case of one album, the unreleased Simplex, Nelson discovered his manager had been selling copies via mail order without Nelson's authorisation or knowledge; Nelson claims he never received any royalties from these sales.
In 1992, Nelson released Blue Moons and Laughing Guitars on Virgin which consisted of demos for a proposed four guitarists, two drummers band which never materialised. "This is what I do behind locked doors," he wrote on the sleeve, prefiguring much of his later, home recorded work including My Secret Studio (4-CD + 2-CD) and Noise Candy (6-CD). In the same year, Nelson worked with Roger Eno and Kate St. John as producer (with Roger Eno) on the duo's album The Familiar, on which Nelson also played guitar and other instruments. This experience fortuitously not only sowed the seeds of Eno's, Nelson's and St.John's participation in the 'ambient supergroup' Channel Light Vessel, which also featured Laraaji and Mayumi Tachibana, but also introduced Nelson to Voiceprint Records, whose subsidiary labels included All Saints and Resurgence, both of which would release a number of CLV and Nelson recordings over the next few years.
In 1995, Nelson released two very different albums. Crimsworth (Flowers, Stones, Fountains And Flames) was an ambient piece which had provided the soundscape to an art installation. Practically Wired, or How I Became... Guitarboy! was a return to guitar-based instrumental music, something Nelson had barely touched for the previous decade and a half.
By 1996, Nelson's troubles with his former manager were resolved in a lawsuit which enabled Nelson to recover much of his back catalogue. The fully authorised Simplex was subsequently released in 2001 by Lenin Imports and reissued in 2012 by Esoteric.
In the late 1990s, Nelson created the Populuxe label, with a distribution arrangement via Robert Fripp's Discipline Global Mobile, but his relationship with them stagnated and Nelson's last release on that label was Atom Shop in 1998. Subsequent releases have been on other imprints such as Toneswoon as well as direct mail order (and later internet order) releases.
In 2001, Nelson attended a first Nelsonica convention, set up in West Yorkshire by fans in his honour, taking with him drawings to sell to any interested parties. It proved such a good experience that he resolved to contribute live music performances, dedicated CDs of new material, and anything else that seemed appropriate, to any such future events. Nelsonica became an annual fixture in his calendar for the next decade or so. Attendees at 2002's Nelsonica 02 received a copy of Astral Motel, the first convention CD release. Honeytone Cody played one set, Nelson and his brother Ian played a second, while Nelson's newly assembled seven piece band The Lost Satellites, which also included Ian, played a third. It was a resounding success and an annual institution was born.
Three further albums followed in 2003: The Romance of Sustain Volume One: Painting With Guitars, Plaything, and a second Nelsonica CD Luxury Lodge. Since then, Nelson has released an average of four albums a year, often in small runs which soon go out of print. He has accomplished this using his own series of branded record labels: Almost Opaque then Discs Of Ancient Odeon for the Nelsonica releases; Universal Twang then Sonoluxe for the others. (Nelson's Sonic Masonic imprint lasted for only one release, 2004's Satellite Songs.)
Nelson's in-house releasing was made possible by the financial backing of Sound on Sound magazine, whose website hosts his online shop and is named after Red Noise's Sound-on-Sound album. In 2004, the magazine also put up the money for Nelson to take his band Bill Nelson and the Lost Satellites on tour around the UK as The Be-Bop Deluxe And Beyond Tour.
Nelson pursued different artistic directions. Two Rosewood releases contained acoustic guitar pieces "submitted to electronic and digital processing." The highly personal The Alchemical Adventures Of Sailor Bill was a concept album about the English coastline, ships and the sea, while its more ambient, instrumental companion piece Neptune's Galaxy comprised five long form instrumental compositions exploring the same subject. Of the former, Nelson wrote, "this set of songs comes (closer) to being personally fulfilling as almost any other album of mine." Most of the decade's remaining albums were lead electric guitar-oriented and non-vocal. Improvisation against pre-recorded backing tracks played a major role in And We Fell Into A Dream while the very different Theatre Of Falling Leaves eschewed lead guitar in favour of keyboards. The decade closed with more voice-based material as Nelson crooned through Golden Melodies Of Tomorrow, delivered more familiar rock and ballad vocals on Fancy Planets and delved into romantic songwriting in The Dream Transmission Pavilion.
In the first half of the decade, Nelson published his collected online diaries from 1999-2003 under the moniker diary of a hyperdreamer. A second volume covering entries from 2005-2006 would appear in 2015. The last ten years of this diary remain on his official website to this day. He also gave extensive interviews to biographer Paul Sutton Reeves for a book, the publication of which was put on hold for around two years when publisher Sean Body died. Music In Dreamland Bill Nelson & Be-Bop Deluxe finally materialised in 2008.
In the second half of the decade, Nelson's live performances (mostly at the Nelsonica events) broadened out from solo work to encompass two other bands. One was the improvisational, three-piece Orchestra Futura consisting of Nelson, Dave Sturt (bass) and Theo Travis (assorted woodwind, brass). (The duo of Sturt and Travis already played together as Cipher.) The other was the more conventional rock oriented, seven-piece Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers (again including Sturt and Travis) which played songs with vocals from the extensive Nelson/Be-Bop Deluxe back catalogue.
By 2006, Universal Music (UK) had re-issued three Mercury albums: Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam, The Love that Whirls and Chimera had all been remastered and released with bonus tracks. Sonoluxe had reissued the CBS album Getting the Holy Ghost Across / On a Blue Wing with all the original tracks including those from Living for the Spangled Moment.
In 2010, Nelson published the first part of an autobiography.
In March 2011, motivated by a desire to capture the flavour of recent gigs on film for posterity via DVD release, Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers played a concert of songs spanning Nelson's career before a live audience in front of in-house cameras at Metropolis Studios, London. Dissatisfied with the resultant sound mix, Nelson remixed it himself at his own expense. Using Nelson's remix, ITV Studios Home Entertainment released a DVD of the event. This initial release quickly sold out. A promised television broadcast of the recording only materialised in a few selected territories, excluding the UK. The video and audio recording has subsequently been reissued on other formats including CD and LP. However, having signed away his rights to these recordings, Nelson has made no money on these releases.
In 2011, Cherry Red Records' subsidiary Esoteric Recordings commenced a roll-out re-release of Nelson's back catalogue for many of his releases between 1981 and 2002 with the 8-CD compilation The Practice of Everyday Life which covered 40 years of recordings. Other notable reissues have included the 4-CD The Book Of Splendours and the 6-CD Noise Candy. The Esoteric deal did not involve a rights buyout, so Nelson is properly compensated for these reissues.
In 2013, Nelson finally began releasing his out of print CD back catalogue from 2002 onwards as digital downloads via Bandcamp. In 2014, he also released the three volume compilation The Dreamer's Companion and in 2016 the original album Special Metal on this platform.
In addition to his numerous solo releases of recent years, Nelson has also made both film soundtracks and a number of collaborative recordings with other artists. In 2010, he released the soundtrack to the US TV documentary American Stamps as Picture Post while in 2014, he released the soundtrack to UK director Daisy Asquith's paean to cycling Velorama (a tie in with the 2014 Tour de France cycle race which went through Yorkshire) as Pedalscope. In 2012, Nelson finally completed The Last of the Neon Cynics, a long standing project with comic artist Matt Howarth: the latter supplied a comic (a PDF file) while the former provided a soundtrack to it. In 2014, he collaborated with fellow guitarist Reeves Gabrels (who has also worked with David Bowie and The Cure) on Fantastic Guitars.
In 2014, Nelson suffered a complete hearing loss in his right ear. This put a stop to any plans for playing live (and by extension Nelsonica events built around live performance) for the foreseeable future. Yet he continued to record and release music despite this disability. The first album to be affected was Quiet Bells. According to Nelson's sleeve notes, "to slowly adjust to this problem, I decided to make an album that features mainly guitar, a gentle collection of instrumentals in a neo-minimalist, ambient style."
In 2014, Nelson was honoured by Wakefield Council with a Hollywood-style star on the city’s walk of fame. He also designed an extremely limited edition 'Astroluxe Custom Ltd' guitar for the Eastwood company.
- "Teenage Archangel" / "Jets at Dawn" (1973) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Smile
- "Jet Silver and the Dolls Of Venus" / "Third Floor Heaven" (1974) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- "Between the Worlds" / "Lights" (1975) recalled after only one day of sale [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- "Maid in Heaven" / "Lights" (1975) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- "Ships in the Night" / "Crying to the Sky" (1976) - UK No. 23 [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- "Kiss of Light" / "Shine" (1976) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- "Japan" / "Futurist Manifesto" (1977) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- "Panic in the World" / "Blue as a Jewel" (1978) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- "Electrical Language" / "Surreal Estate" (1978) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- "Furniture Music" / "Wonder Toys That Last For Ever", "Acquitted By Mirrors" (February 1979) [Bill Nelson's Red Noise] Harvest
- "Revolt Into Style" / "Out Of Touch" recorded live at Leicester De Montfort Hall 8th March 1979 (April 1979) [Bill Nelson's Red Noise] Harvest
- "Revolt Into Style" / "Stay Young", "Out Of Touch" both recorded live at Leicester De Montfort Hall 8th March 1979 12" (April 1979) [Bill Nelson's Red Noise] Harvest
- "Rooms With Brittle Views" / "Dada Guitare" (1980) Les Disques du Crépuscule
- "Do You Dream In Colour" / "Ideal Homes", "Instantly Yours", "Atom Man Loves Radium Girl" (1980) Cocteau
- To Heaven A Jet: "Airfields" / "Tony Goes To Tokyo (And Rides The Bullet Train)" (1981) [The Revox Cadets] Cocteau
- "Youth Of Nation On Fire" / "Be My Dynamo" (1981) Mercury
- "Youth Of Nation On Fire" / "Be My Dynamo" / "Rooms With Brittle Views" / "All My Wives Were Iron" (1981) Mercury
- "Living In My Limousine" / "Birds Of Tin", "Love In The Abstract" (1981) Mercury
- "Living In My Limousine (Remix)", "White Sounds" / "Birds Of Tin", "Love In The Abstract" 12" (1981) Mercury
- "Banal" / "Mr. Magnetism Himself" (1981) Mercury
- "Banal" / "Turn To Fiction" / "Hers Is A Lush Situation" / "Mr. Magnetism Himself" 12" (1981) Mercury
- "Eros Arriving" / "Haunting In My Head" (1982) Mercury
- "Eros Arriving" / "Haunting In My Head" / "He And Sleep Were Brothers" / "Flesh" (1982) Mercury
- "Flaming Desire" / "The Passion" (1982) Mercury
- "Flaming Desire" (Long Version) / "The Passion", "The Burning Question" 12" (1982) Mercury
- Flaming Desire And Other Passions: "Flaming Desire" (Long Version), "Flesh" / "The Passion", "The Burning Question", "He And Sleep Were Brothers", "Haunting In My Head" 12" (1982) PVC
- "Sleepcycle", "Konny Buys A Kodak" / "When The Birds Return", "The Beat That Can't Go Wrong Today" EP 33 1/3 RPM (1982) Acquitted By Mirrors (ABM) fan club release Cocteau
- "King Of The Cowboys", "Shadowland" / "Carnival", "Spring" EP 33 1/3 RPM (1982) ABM release Cocteau
- "Touch And Glow" / "Dancing In The Wind", "Love Without Fear" (1982) Cocteau
- "The World And His Wife" / "Dream Car Romantics (In Death's Garage Antics)", "Dancing Music" EP 33 1/3 RPM (1982) ABM release Cocteau
- "Dancing On A Knife's Edge" / "Indiscretion", "Contemplation" EP 33 1/3 RPM (1983) ABM release Cocteau
- "Acceleration" Remixed by John Luongo / "Hard Facts From The Fiction Department" (1984) Cocteau
- "Hard Facts From The Fiction Department", "Acceleration Dub" Remixed by John Luongo / "Acceleration Long Version" Remixed by John Luongo, "Acceleration Short Version" Remixed by John Luongo 12" (1984) Cocteau
- 'Giants Of The Perpetual Wurlitzer: "The Strangest Things, The Strangest Times", "Phantom Gardens", "French Promenades" / "Golden Mile", "West-Deep", "Threnolia" EP 33 1/3 RPM (1984) ABM release Cocteau
- "Hard Facts From The Fiction Department", "Daily Bells" / "Rhythm Unit", "Junc-Sculpture" EP 33 1/3 RPM (1984) ABM release Cocteau
- The Cote D'Azur EP: "A Dream Fulfilled", "Familiar Spirit" / "Palais Des Marine", "Letter To Jacques Maritan", "Villefranche Interior" EP 33 1/3 RPM (1984) ABM release Cocteau
- Sex-Psyche-Etc: "Sex, Psyche Etcetera" / "Several Famous Orchestras", "Who He Is" 12" (1985) [Orchestra Arcana] Cocteau
- "Wildest Dreams" / "Self Impersonisation" (1986) Portrait
- "Wildest Dreams (Wild Mix)", "Self Impersonisation" / "Wildest Dreams (Single Version)", "The Yo-Yo Dyne" 12" (1986) Portrait
- "Secret Ceremony (Theme From Brond)" / "Wiping A Tear From The All Seeing Eye" 7" and 12" versions (1987) [Scala Featuring Bill Nelson & Daryl Runswick] Cocteau
- Ecclesia Gnostica (Music For The Interior Church): "Set Me As A Seal Upon Thine Heart", "Mysterium", "Katharos", "Day Of Eternity", "Evening Adoration" / "Ecclesia Gnostica", "Young Angels By An Ancient River", "Finis Gloria Mundi" (1987) bonus release with Chance Encounters In The Garden Of Lights first edition Cocteau
- "Do You Dream In Colour" / "Life In Your Hands" (1989) Cocteau
- "Life In Your Hands", "Do You Dream In Colour" / "Get Out Of That Hole", "My Dream Demon" 12" (1989) Cocteau
- "The Dead We Wake With Upstairs Drums", "Boat To Forever", "So It Goes" CD (1992) Venture
- "Contemplation 2007" / "The Dreamsville Poetry Experiment" (2007) no label (digital download only)
- "I Hear Electricity" / "Kiss You Slowly" (2008) Sonoluxe (digital download only)
- "The Jingler" (2009) Christmas single no label (digital download only)
- "Frost-O-Matic" .wav (2010) Christmas single Sonoluxe (digital download only)
- "Think And You’ll Miss It" / "Beat Street" (2012) Christmas single no label (digital download only)
- "Snow Is Falling" (2014) Christmas single no label (digital download only)
- flashlight dreams...and fleeting shadows an audio-optical diary by Bill Nelson (2003) Voiceprint
- Picture House (2010) Nelsonica convention DVD Visuluxe
- Classic Rock Magazine Legends Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers filmed live at Metropolis Studios (2011) [Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers] ITV Studios Home Entertainment
- Be-Bop Deluxe At The BBC 1974-78 (2013) [Be-Bop Deluxe] 3-CD + DVD box set of previously unreleased material + material from Tramcar To Tomorrow (most tracks) and Tremulous Antenna (all tracks) + televised performances EMI
- The Best Of and the Rest Of Be-Bop Deluxe (1978) [Be-Bop Deluxe] 2-LP set; second disc material previously unreleased on LP - Drastic Plastic outtakes plus single A- and B-sides Harvest
- Singles A's & B's (1981) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest Heritage
- Vistamix (1984) Portrait (10 tracks - Chimera mini LP, two tracks from The Love That Whirls, one from Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam, and one single)
- The Two-Fold Aspect of Everything (1984) 2-LP set of A- and B-sides previously unavailable on LP Cocteau
- Bop To The Red Noise (1986) [Be-Bop Deluxe] mixture of BBD and RN material Dojo
- The Strangest Things A Collection of Recordings 1979-1989 (1989) Enigma
- The Best Of Be-Bop Deluxe: Raiding The Divine Archive (1990) [Be-Bop Deluxe] Harvest
- Air Age Anthology: The Very Best Of Be-Bop Deluxe (1997) [Be-Bop Deluxe] 2-CD set EMI
- The Very Best Of Be-Bop Deluxe (1998) [Be-Bop Deluxe] EMI-Capitol Special Markets
- What Now, What Next? The Cocteau Years Compendium (1998) Discipline Global Mobile
- Electrotype - The Holyground Recordings 1968-1972 (2001) previously unreleased pre-Northern Dream BN and pre-Axe Victim BBD recordings Holyground
- Postcards From the Future... Introducing Be-Bop Deluxe (2004) [Be-Bop Deluxe] EMI
- Futurist Manifesto (2011) [Be-Bop Deluxe] 5-CD set, 1st four discs are the five BBD studio albums plus the singles; fifth disc is previously unreleased material from demos and Live! In The Air Age recordings Harvest
- The Practice Of Everyday Life (2011) 8-CD set, 40-year career retrospective mixture of BBD, RN and BN solo material Esoteric Recordings
- Original Albums Series (2014) [Be-Bop Deluxe] 5-CD set, five discs are the five BBD studio albums, tracks as originally released on LP Warner/Parlophone
- The Dreamer's Companion Vol 1 (How I Got My Secret Powers) (2015) Sonoluxe (digital download only)
- The Dreamer's Companion Vol 2 (In This I Reveal My Secret Identity) (2015) Sonoluxe (digital download only)
- The Dreamer's Companion Vol 3 (Songs Of The Bel-Air Rocketman) (2015) introductory compilation of 14 tracks per each of 3 volumes taken from rare and limited edition CD pressings, personally chosen by Bill Nelson himself Sonoluxe (digital download only)
Compilation albums with other artists
- Future Perfect includes tracks from Practically Wired or how I became…Guitarboy! and Automatic [Channel Light Vessel] (1995) [Various Artists] All Saints
- Hot Valves: "Maid In Heaven", "Bring Back The Spark" / "Blazing Apostles", "Jet Silver And The Dolls Of Venus" EP (1976) UK No. 36 Harvest
- Permanent Flame (The Beginners Guide To Bill Nelson) (1983) 5-disc set of previously released BBD, RN and BN solo material Cocteau
Albums as producer
- Days In Europa (1st release version) producer and keyboards (1979) [Skids] Virgin
- New Way To Move producer and additional musician (1982) [The Units] 6-track mini-LP Epic
- Warriors - Nelson removed his producer credit following creative differences with Numan; "guitar and keyboards" credit remains (1983) [Gary Numan] Beggars Banquet Records*
- Heaven & Hell Volume 2 (a Velvet Underground tribute album) production and keyboard solo on "Pale Blue Eyes" [The Mock Turtles], also "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" [Bill Nelson & The Roy Rogers Rocketeers] (1990) Imaginary
- Willerby production, guitars, sitar, keyboards, also features Ian Nelson on saxes and clarinet (1991) [The Rhythm Sisters] Imaginary
- The Familiar (1992) [Roger Eno with Kate St John] All Saints
- Geography produced by Culturemix, Nelson also plays guitar, all compositions Yumiko Norika (1993) [Culturemix] Japanese release Voice Records
- Culturemix with Bill Nelson produced with Yumiko Norika, Nelson also plays guitar, keyboards, occasional piano, occasional vocals, all compositions Yumiko Norika except "Four Postcards Home" by Bill Nelson and Yumiko Norika (1995) [Culturemix] Resurgence
- Lines Of Desire 10 tracks in total: played on 3 of which he produced 2 (1995) [Su Lyn] Bruce's Fingers
- 360 Degrees produced with Gillcover and the Monkey (1996) [Gillcover and the Monkey] Japanese release Stillwaters / Sony Music Japan
- Яблокитай / Yablokitay Nelson also plays guitar (1997) Наутилус Помпилиус / [Nautilus Pompilius] Russian release Dana Music
- Leaving the Electric Circus Nelson also plays guitar on and helped write "The Sunglass" (2002) [Sea of Wires] Sea of Wires self-released
- Animals They Dream About (2016, recorded 1982) [The Units] Futurismo
Singles as producer
- "Working for the Yankee Dollar" / "Vanguards Crusade" (1979) [Skids] Virgin
- "Charade" / "Grey Parade" producer, keyboards and co-authorship with Stuart Adamson / Richard Jobson (1979) [Skids] Virgin
- "Animation" / "Pros & Cons" (1980) [Skids] Virgin
- "Losing You" / "You Don't Turn Me On Anymore" (1981) [Stranger Than Fiction] Ambergris Records
- "Novel Romance" / "In A Glass Eye" produced A-side only (1981) [Nash the Slash] Dindisc
- "Telecommunication" / "Intro" produced A-side only (1981) [A Flock of Seagulls] Jive Records
- "(It's Not Me) Talking" / "Tanglimara" produced A-side only (1983) [A Flock of Seagulls] Jive Records
- "Sister Surprise" / "Poetry And Power" also guitars, keyboards, backing vocals (1983) [Gary Numan] Beggars Banquet
- "Warriors" / "My Car Slides" also guitars, keyboards (1983) [Gary Numan] Beggars Banquet
- "Infotainment" / "Please Mr Postman" production, guitar, keyboards (1990) [The Rhythm Sisters] Imaginary
- "Rain" production, guitar / "She Rides" sitar (1990) [The Rain Poets] Scorp Records
- "Magic Boomerang" / "Take Your Time" (1990) [The Mock Turtles] Imaginary
- Pink & Clean "Cheap Thrill Star", "Pink & Clean", "Girlie", "A Monster of Me" EP (1998) [Honeytone Cody] Elle & Elliot Nelson
- Believe In The Promise Of Tomorrow contributed secret track which consisted of music he wrote that the band played before their gigs EP (2000) [Honeytone Cody]
Compilation albums as producer
- Sweet Suburbia worked on featured tracks, a Best Of compilation (1995) [Skids] Virgin
Albums as collaborator
- Disguise In Love guitar on 3 tracks "(I don't want to) Be Nice", "Readers Wives", "Health Fanatic" (1978) [John Cooper Clarke] CBS
- Days In Europa (2nd release version) keyboards by Bill Nelson, additional production, remix by Bruce Fairbairn (1980) [Skids] Virgin
- La Rocca! synthesizer (1981) [Snips] EMI, UK
- Third Eye E-bow guitars, electric guitar (1982) [Monsoon] Phonogram
- Rice Music "flying e-bow" guitar (1982) Masami Tsuchiya Epic
- What Me Worry? guitars, vocals (1982) [Yukihiro Takahashi] Japanese release Yen / Alfa, UK release Alfa
- Tomorrow's Just Another Day guitar on "This Island Earth", guitar and backing vocals on "Are You Receiving Me" (remix) (1983) [Yukihiro Takahashi] Japanese release Yen / Alfa
- Naughty Boys guitar (1983) [Yellow Magic Orchestra] Alfa
- Naughty Boys Instrumental guitar (1984) [Yellow Magic Orchestra] Alfa
- Time and Place guitars, vocals, live (1984) [Yukihiro Takahashi] Japanese release Yen / Alfa
- Wild and Moody guitar, vocal on "Helpless" (Neil Young) and "Bounds Of Reason, Bonds Of Love" (lyrics: Nelson; music: Nelson, Takahashi) mini-LP (1984) [Yukihiro Takahashi] Japanese release Yen / Alfa, UK release Cocteau
- Viva Lava Liva lyrics on "Walk Away" (1984) [Sandii & the Sunsetz] Japanese release Yen / Alfa
- Gone To Earth solo electric / acoustic guitars on "Before The Bullfight", guitar on "Wave", "Silver Moon", "The Healing Place", acoustic guitar on "Answered Prayers" (1986) [David Sylvian] Virgin
- Code guitar on "Don't Argue", "Here To Go", "Trouble (Won't Stop)", "White Car", "No One Here", "Here to Go (Little Dub)" (1987) [Cabaret Voltaire] Parlophone UK
- Still Looking For Heaven On Earth guitar on: "Burning Rain", "This Means Everything To Me", "Feel The Fire", "Heaven Said My Name", "Shake (Sell Your Soul)" (1988) [Crazy House] Chrysalis Records US
- Ego lyrics on "Only the Heart Has Heard" (1988) [Yukihiro Takahashi] Japanese release Eastworld
- By the Dawn's Early Light guitar on tracks 1-14, composed track 13 "The Place Of Dead Roads" (1991) Harold Budd Opal Records
- Rain Tree Crow guitar on 3 tracks "Big Wheels In Shanty Town", "Blackwater", "Blackcrow Hits Shoe Shine City" (1991) [Rain Tree Crow] Virgin
- Chill and Kiss guitar on "Love So Terse", "Get It On", "This Song In You", "Get Stoned", Ian Nelson sax on "Togetherness Blues", Ian Leese (After The Satellite Sings, Excellent Spirits [Channel Light Vessel)] bass (1992) Ramon Tikaram German release DSB (Deutsche Schallplatten GmbH Berlin)
- 地上の楽園 / Chizyou No Rakuen / Paradise On Earth guitar, lyrics on "Hope" (1994) [久石譲 / Joe Hisaishi] Japanese release Pioneer
- The Way Out Is The Way In guitar on "Music & Cosmic (Feel Yourself)" (sampled from Channel Light Vessel's Automatic) (1995) [Audio Active & Laraaji] All Saints
- Alienshamanism guitar solo on "Alienshamanism - Prologue", flamenco guitar solo on "Flamenco Luminoso", guitars and ebo (sic) guitars on "Desire Machine" (2000) [Dr.Jan (guru)] Nap
- Selected Esoterica (2003) [Dr.Jan (guru)] Kaerucafe
- Communion (2003) [Jan Linton/Dr.Jan (guru)] Explosion
- Monsoon Featuring Sheila Chandra E-bow guitars, electric guitar, re-release of Third Eye includes several previously unreleased tracks (1995) [Monsoon] Mercury Records
- Dreams And Absurdities (2015) [Dave Sturt] Esoteric/Antenna
Singles as collaborator
- "Are You Receiving Me" / "And I Believe In You" guitar, backing vocals (1982) [Yukihiro Takahashi] Japanese release Yen / Alfa
- "Wings of the Dawn" / "Ever So Lonely", "And I You" e-bow guitar 7", 12" (1982) [Monsoon] Phonogram
- "Tomorrow Never Knows" / "Indian Princess" guitar and "base" (sic) 7", 12" (1982) [Monsoon] Phonogram
- "Stranger Things Have Happened" / "Bounds Of Reason, Bonds Of Love" vocals, guitar, keyboards "Metaphysical Jerks" guitar, keyboards, writer 12" (1985) [Yukihiro Takahashi] Cocteau
- The Eternal Desire Machines of Dr Jan guitars and ebo (sic) guitars on "Desire Machine (dance meditation)" EP (1999) [Dr.Jan (guru)] Global Vision Music
- Three White Roses & A Budd: "No Shade, No Shadow", "Adrift Amidst Les Odalisques", "The Airless Time", "Blue Locus" EP (2002) [Harold Budd, Bill Nelson & Fila Brazillia] Twentythree Records
Compilation albums as collaborator
- A to Austr (Musics From Holy Ground) (1970) [Various Artists] Holyground
- Astral Navigations guitar on 3 tracks by Light Years Away "Yesterday", "Today (North Country Cinderella)", "Tomorrow (Buffalo)" (1971) A-side: [Light Years Away], B-side: [Thundermother] Holyground
- 87-90 includes "Magic Boomerang", "Take Your Time" [The Mock Turtles] also released as single (1990) [Various Artists] Imaginary
- Gagalactyca guitar, recorded from Holyground sessions 1968-1970 (1990) [Various Artists] Holyground
- Loose Routes guitar, recorded from Holyground sessions, includes Global Village's "Global Fantasy" (a re-working of Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy") and other tracks 1968-1970 (1990) [Various Artists] 2-LP Holyground
- Drop 5 (The Liquid Side of Dance) guitar (possibly just a guitar sample) also features David Torn, Richard Barbieri, Brian Eno, Jah Wobble, Steve Jansen, Hector Zazou, possibly David Sylvian (1998) [Various Artists] Italian release Materiali Sonori
- communion ii download compilation (2015?) [Jan Linton] Burning Shed
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Nelson, Bill Painted From Memory (Sketches For An Autobiography) Volume One: Evocation Of A Radiant Childhood (2010) Autumn Ink Incorporated self-published
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer vol.2 (2015) Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 2005 and 2006, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 978-190459-031-6
- Reeves, Paul Sutton Music In Dreamland Bill Nelson & Be-Bop Deluxe (2008) Helter Skelter publishing ISBN 978-1-900924-04-7
- "Frequently Asked Questions about Bill Nelson". Billnelson.com. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "Drastic Plastic" booklet
- Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 683–685. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- Pete Prown; HP Newquist (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 86. ISBN 978-0793540426.
- "Singer Steven Wilson crowned prog rock king". BBC News. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Reeves, Paul Sutton Music In Dreamland Bill Nelson & Be-Bop Deluxe (2008) p.152, Helter Skelter publishing ISBN 978-1-900924-04-7
- Reeves, Paul Sutton Music In Dreamland Bill Nelson & Be-Bop Deluxe (2008) p.184, Helter Skelter publishing ISBN 978-1-900924-04-7
- Robbins, Ira (1984). "Bill Nelson - Autodiscography". Billnelson.com.
- "John Leckie Q & A, Exclusive to Skids Fans Website". 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) p.563 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Simpson, Bill (2007). "The Skids by Bill Simpson 2007". Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) p.369 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) Pp.394, 397, 401-3 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 389. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Judgement - Nelson v. Rye". Ucc.ie. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "Voiceprint Labels". Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) p.353 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) Pp. 386, 396, 406-7, Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) Pp.429-31 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) Pp. 425-31 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) Pp.453-463 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- "Sound on Sound Bill Nelson Shop". 2003. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
- Humberstone, Nigel (1995). "Bill Nelson: Guitar Boy In Wonderland". Retrieved 30 April 2015.
- "BILL NELSON: Be-Bop Deluxe And Beyond Tour". 2004. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer vol.2 (2015) p.116 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 2005 and 2006, previously published on his official website Pomona 978-190459-031-6
- "William's Study (Diary Of A Hyperdreamer)". 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- "Bandcamp Bill Nelson Shop". 2003. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
- "'Bill Nelson - why deafness won't stop me playing music". 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- "Musician Bill Nelson honoured by Wakefield Star". 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- "Musician Bill Nelson to receive Wakefield Star". 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- "Musician Bill Nelson takes his place on Wakefield's walk of stars". 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- "'Prestigious' honour for musician Bill Nelson". 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 45. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 45. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Nelson, Bill diary of a hyperdreamer (2004) p. 58 Bill Nelson's collected diaries from between 1999 and 2003, previously published on his official website Pomona ISBN 1-904590-06-3
- Official website
- William's Study (Diary Of A Hyperdreamer): Nelson's online diary 2015-2005
- Permanent Flame - an archive of a previous Nelson site with more content
- Holyground Records website - details of Nelson's early work
- Gilby, Ian 1984/1985 interview in Home Studio Recording magazine detailing Nelson's then leading edge of multi-track home recording technology
- Sound on Sound website - search results for Bill Nelson (news items, articles)
- on YouTube