Writing and recording
"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was recorded "live in the studio" in a single take during a six-hour session at Beck Studios in Wellingborough on 26 January 1979. It was the first thing they recorded together, six weeks after the band had formed. All four band members are credited as writers of the song: vocalist Peter Murphy, guitarist Daniel Ash, drummer Kevin Haskins and bassist David J (as David Haskins). David J has claimed that he wrote the lyrics. Alternate versions of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" also included a portion of the early demo recording of their next single, "Dark Entries".
Four additional songs were also recorded: "Boys"; "Bite My Hip"; the ska-reggae tune "Harry", which was about Deborah Harry, the lead singer of Blondie; and "Some Faces". Regarding this session, Kevin Haskins said, "There’s power pop in there, and ska too. We were trying to find our voice." Of these recordings, only two were released until 2018, when The Bela Session came out. Beforehand, only "Harry" surfaced in 1982 as a B-side to the single "Kick in the Eye", while "Boys" served as a B-side to "Bela Lugosi's Dead", and later was re-recorded at Beck Studios in 1979.