Bill's Meet & Greet Gathering - 1983

In, the heady days of the 'Acquitted By Mirrors' fan club magazines, issue number 3 contained an interesting little note mentioning that they were intending to run a prize draw. The twelve lucky winners would get the opportunity to meet Bill, ask questions, have a chat and take photographs.

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The lucky winners were announced in the following edition of 'Acquitted By Mirrors' and they were contacted with the arrangements for the gathering...

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A few tweaks to the original 'studio' meeting plan, but the event was finally arranged for May 15th 1983.

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This is the account of the event by one of the lucky winners, Stephen Netherton - A big thank you to him for his recollections and these photographs...

Bill Nelson - May 1983

The Day Out to Meet Bill Nelson: 15 May 1983

Article and photographs courtesy of Stephen Netherton (written in April 2021)

There appeared in an issue of Acquitted by Mirrors an article that invited subscribers to enter a draw to meet Bill. There had been grander plans to meet him in the studio, but they didn't transpire. The eventual meeting was to be at the Bloomsbury Crest Hotel in London. Fine with me all I wanted to do was meet him. The nearest I had been to this was nine years earlier when I saw Be Bop Deluxe as support to Cockney Rebel at Tiffanys in Hull in 1974. I was standing with my friend Mark, (both of us not old enough to be in the nightclub), right at the front of the audience and straight in front of Rob Bryan who was only five feet away at the most. Bill was over to the right if I remember correctly.

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How was I going to improve my chances of being picked out to meet Bill? At work one of the ladies in the office used card of various colours to aid her filing system. I 'borrowed' a sheet of amber coloured card and cut a piece off to match a postcard. I duly entered my details on the card, posted it and waited hoping that all the other people hadn't had a similar idea and sent luminous pink cards! I hoped an amber card amongst a pile of white ones would ensure it was picked. It was. Success! I received a letter to say I was one of the lucky ones. 

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When the day arrived, I drove to pick up my then Girlfriend, Carol (now Wife) to go to Hull Paragon Station to catch the train to London Kings Cross. My lasting memory of this part of the day was the look on her Fathers face as he stared out of the window as she got in the car. It was a look that said, "Where on earth are you taking my daughter at this time on a Sunday morning?" It was not a happy face. As teenagers do, (she was 19 at the time), she had just told him, "I'm going out." I convinced her that she should ring him and let him know where we were going and what time we would be back. In those pre-mobile phone days, she went to the public phones in the station and rang to let him know. He was happy now, Carol told me.

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The one think I can remember about the journey to London was that the train was diverted off the East Coast Main Line and we travelled through Ely. On arrival at Kings Cross we took the short walk to the Bloomsbury Crest Hotel via McDonalds. We arrived with lots of time to spare and were eventually directed towards a room to wait for Bill. I got the impression that the event was being organised by the guy in the grey sweatshirt with the blue print. Does anyone know who he is? I cannot remember his name.

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Bill arrived with Jan and after introductions a Q&A session started. I remember one of my questions; it was, ‘Are the Revox Cadets, V.U. Disney and Bill Nelson one and the same. Tony Goes to Tokyo and Rides the Bullet Train is in my top five Bill tracks ever. I knew they probably were, but you never know. Bill confirmed my belief. I did ask a couple of other questions about Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam and The Love That Whirls but I cannot remember them. It is nearly thirty-eight years ago!

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After the Q&A session the attendees were invited one by one to go to the head table and have a chat with Bill. I talked about first seeing Be Bop Deluxe, subsequent gigs and favourite tracks. Each person received a signed photo; I still have mine. Bill’s music was playing quietly in the background.

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My photos show some of the other attendees. Do any readers of this article recognise any faces? Might there be a current forum member pictured? I cannot remember any of the people; to be honest I don't think I talked to anyone apart from Bill. It wasn't like the recent meetings at The Clothworkers, there's lots of chatting at these events!

I seem to think the gathering lasted for around two hours. I'm not sure, but I know Carol and I had a wonderful time. I look forward to seeing if anyone recognises the faces!

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If you attended the event and would like to share your memories, or have any photos, please get in touch!

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