Michael B. Nelson

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John L. Nelson All Biographies Prince Biography Renato Neto
Michael B. Nelson

Birth Name: Michael B. Nelson
Occupation: Trombone player, horns arranger
Activity with Prince: 1991-2001- 2011-2016
Live Contributions
Worked on the following tour(s):
Worked on shows in:
Studio Contributions
With Prince:
With Prince's Associates:
Self Productions with Prince:
  • None

Michael B. Nelson is an American horn player, composer and arranger.

As a Trombone player and arranger in the Hornheads (sometimes Hornheadz), a band first assembled as no name horn section, sometimes referred to as 'NPG hornz' in 1991 to augment Prince & The NPG on tour, Nelson toured with Prince from 1991 until 1994 and again in 1999. He was involved in studio output from Prince and associated artists from 1992 until 2016, with a hiatus in the first decade of the millennium.

Nelson has also performed and/or recorded with a large number of artists such as Chaka Khan, Lenny Kravitz, The Jonas Brothers, Sammy Davis Jr., Mandy Moore, Jimmy Jam, Larry Graham, Babyface, and Maceo Parker.

Musical Career
Early Career

After studies at Concordia College, Moorehead, MN, and at Lawrence Conservatory of Music at Appleton, Wisconsin, Nelson moved to Minneapolis and started his career as staff arranger at Ruperts night clubs in Minneapolis, Atlanta and St Louis from 1984 to 1990. He was also arranger / lead trombonist in the Minnesota Vikings Band from 1985 to 1990.

Work With Prince

From 1991-2001 Nelson and the Hornheads recorded and toured worldwide with Prince. Nelson recorded and arranged horns for 20 CDs with Prince and associated Paisley Park artists and co-wrote “Billy Jack Bitch” on Prince’s Grammy-nominated The Gold Experience album.

Guest Appearances



  • 23 February 1993: Hollywood, CA - Paramount Studios - Stage 29 (Arsenio Hall Show)

Current Work

As a studio musician, Nelson has appeared on numerous albums, with producer, composer, arranger, and performer credits on 3 Hornheads solo releases (Fat Lip, 5 Heads Are Better Than 1, and Hornheads) and 10 Compass Records CDs for the Target retail chain.

Nelson has also performed and/or recorded with Chaka Khan, Doc Severinsen, Lenny Kravitz, The Jonas Brothers, Sammy Davis Jr., Mandy Moore, Jimmy Jam, Johnny Mathis, Honor Society, Larry Graham, Ben Sidran, Jordan Pruitt, Babyface, Maceo Parker, amongst others.

He has also worked on many commercial projects for companies such as Target, BMW, Holiday Inn, Macys, ABC, Minnesota Twins, Best Buy, General Mills, Hormel, Donatos, Long John Silver, and Redline Entertainment.

Nelson has created his own record label "Born 2 b Wild Music", through which he releases Hornheads albums and promotes his activities as freelance trombonist/arranger for recordings and performances, studio musician, horn arranger and commercial session musician. He also officies as clinician/adjudicator for college and high school jazz festivals and is orchestra arranger and contractor for the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

Additional Information

See also Trivia

  • Michael B Nelson uses a Bach Stradivarius 16m trombone Gardinelli 4M mouthpiece and a 1928 Conn double bell euphonium Gardinelli 4D mouthpiece.
  • In 1996 Nelson received a McKnight Composers Fellowship through the American Composers Forum.
  • Self productions without Prince:
1999: Swing (Lifescapes Music ‎– LS11-5-73-2)

John L. Nelson All Biographies Prince Biography Renato Neto