Born in Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland, Simon Neil formed Biffy Clyro in 1995 at 15 years old recruiting Kilmarnock-born James Johnston and someone known only as Barry on bass and drums respectively, calling themselves Skrewfish. Barry was soon replaced by Ben Johnston, James's twin brother, and Biffy Clyro was effectively formed. In 1997, the trio moved to Glasgow, where Neil studied Electronics with Music at the University of Glasgow. He also Studied Film and TV for a year before leaving to pursue music full-time. By then, Simon's musical tastes had expanded; In 2000, the band were spotted at the Unsigned Bands stage at T in the Park by a Beggars Banquet representative. Soon after, the band was signed to the independent Beggar's Banquet.
Biffy Clyro have since released seven albums, signed to a major record label, and toured relentlessly. Neil has stated that Biffy Clyro lyrics often come from phrases he writes down in a notebook he keeps by his bed.
It was announced in late 2008 that the Duke was to make a return in 2009 with the follow-up album and second in the trilogy, Duke Pandemonium. The first single from the second album, "Kid Gloves" was released on 9 February 2009.
Neil lives in Ayr with his wife Francesca, whom he married at St. Columba Church in Ayr on 5 January 2008. The song "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys was used for their first dance, and Neil has the song's chorus, "God only knows what I'd be without you", tattooed on his chest.
Musical equipment used
The following is a list of musical equipment used by Simon Neil:
- Fender Standard Stratocasters – Various different Mexican models, including White, Red, Sunburst (with neck pickup & controls removed), Black, and Metallic Blue.
- Fender 1960 Custom Shop Stratocasters – Fiesta Red, Frost Metallic, Lake Placid Blue, and White.
- Fender 50s Stratocaster Relic
- Fender Telecaster Standard – USA model, owned by James Johnston, three tone sunburst, can be seen in the music video for "Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies".
- Fender Telecaster '62 Custom – Japanese model, three tone sunburst, can be seen in the music video for "Only One Word Comes to Mind".
- Fender Telecaster Custom 1972 reissue, black. Can be seen in the music video for "Mountains".
- Squier Simon Neil Signature Stratocaster
- Patrick Eggle New York – Red.
- Gretsch White Falcon Used live for the song "Diary of Always" and is seen in the music video for "Folding Stars"
- Gibson ES-335 – used live for "God & Satan"
- Gretsch G2420T - used for music video of "Howl".
- BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
- BOSS MD-2 Distortion
- BOSS MT-2 Metal Zone
- BOSS DD-6 Digital Delay x2
- BOSS LS-2 Line Selector
- Origin Effects Cali76 Compressor
- BOSS DS-1 Distortion
- BOSS HM-2 Heavy Metal
- Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Wah
- Electro Harmonix Micro POG
- Peavey Delta Blues Combo
- Fender Hot Rod Deville 4x10 Combo
- Marshall 1959SLP Head
- Peavey Classic Head and Peavey Classic 412 Cabinet
- Hayden MoFo 30W tube head with Hayden 4x12
- Fender Super Sonic 100 BLK Head
- Kemper Profiling Amplifier PowerHead
- Blackened Sky (2002)
- The Vertigo of Bliss (2003)
- Infinity Land (2004)
- Puzzle (2007)
- Only Revolutions (2009)
- Opposites (2013)
- Ellipsis (2016)
- MTV Unplugged (Live at the Roundhouse, London) (2018)
- Balance, Not Symmetry (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 'Balance, Not Symmetry') (2019)