Kate Bush

Kate Bush Headshot

Singer • Songwriter • Record Producer • Dancer

Birth Name: Catherine Bush

Birth Date: July 30, 1958

Age: 65 years old

Birth Place: Bexleyheath, Kent, UK

One of the most ambitious, enigmatic and influential female performers of all time, Kate Bush continually fuelled fascination thanks to a sporadic career which defied the conventions of pop, challenged the preconceptions of women in music and single-handedly created the kooky songstress archetype.

Famed for her swooping operatic tones, literary references and affinity for the fantastical, Bush emerged a fully-formed musical force at the age of just 18 when 1978 single "Wuthering Heights" saw her become the first ever female artist to top the UK charts with a self-penned song.

Bush continued to push boundaries throughout the following decade, not only with her eccentric blend of new wave, prog, folk and art-rock and idiosyncratic lyrical themes, but also with the self-directed high-concept promotional videos which undoubtedly raised the bar for the art form. Bush's lengthy periods out of the limelight, particularly the twelve years between 1993's The Red Shoes and 2005's Aerial, only added to her mysterious allure, while the rapturous response to her first tour in 35 years in 2014 further confirmed her status as a British national treasure.

Born in Sidcup, Kent in 1958 to an accomplished pianist father and former Irish folk dancer mother, Bush grew up in an artistic family and after taking up the piano, organ and violin, started to write her own material at the age of 13.

Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour was the first to spot her potential after hearing her songs via a mutual friend and subsequently paid for Bush to record a professional demo out of his own pocket. Produced by Andrew Powell, who Bush would also team up with on her first two albums, the three-track recording attracted the attention of EMI, who placed her on a two-year retainer over concerns she was too young to deal with the pressures of a pop career.

Bush wrote over 200 songs and toured with the KT Bush Band around various London pubs during the break, before eventually heading into the studio in 1977 to record her debut album.

Featuring several songs composed during her early teens, The Kick Inside first showcased Bush's talent for imbuing her dramatic and sensual art-rock sound with complex literary themes, and instantly positioned her as one of the most unique pop voices of her generation. EMI had originally pencilled in "James and the Cold Gun" as its lead single, but signalling the independent streak that would define her career, Bush insisted that "Wuthering Heights," an otherworldly mini rock opera inspired by a TV adaptation of the Emily Bronte novel, should be released instead.

Bush's faith in the track paid off when it reached the top of the UK charts in 1978, making her the first ever female artist to do so with a self-penned number. Keen to capitalise on its success, EMI persuaded Bush to record a quick follow-up, but 1979's Lionheart, which again largely consisted of tracks written several years previously, failed to make the same impression and is widely regarded as her least essential release.

The record's relatively disappointing commercial fortunes inspired Bush to take full creative control of her career. None more so than on "The Tour of Life," her first run of live shows, and her last for 35 years, in which she incorporated mime, magic and 17 costume changes into a mesmerising stage production which also featured one of the first uses of the wireless microphone.

Bush then set up her own management and publishing company, Kate Bush Music, and served as co-producer for her third album, Never For Ever. Spawning the hit single "Babooshka," the 1980 release saw Bush experiment with synths for the first time and was the first by a British female artist to top the UK charts. Bush took up a sole producer role on 1982's The Dreaming, a typically experimental affair which drew upon influences as varied as the Stephen King novel The Shining ("Get Out Of My House"), the plight of indigenous Australians ("The Dreaming") and the death of legendary escapist Harry Houdini ("Houdini").

Having previously only reached the US Hot 100 with 1978 single "The Man With The Child In His Eyes," Bush finally achieved a more noteworthy Billboard hit with the atmospheric synth-pop of "Running Up That Hill," the lead single from 1985's commercial peak, Hounds Of Love. Recorded in Bush's newly-built home studio, her fifth LP was split into two distinct parts, with the first a collection of accessible pop singles and the second a seven-song suite ("The Ninth Wave") about a person drifting alone in the sea at night.

After scoring further hits with the title track and "Cloudbusting," the latter of which was accompanied a spell-binding video directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Donald Sutherland, Bush teamed up with Peter Gabriel on the emotionally-charged "Dont' Give Up" and celebrated her career with her first retrospective, The Whole Story.

After two years away, Bush cemented her reputation as a maverick with 1989's The Sensual World, a Grammy-nominated record which featured collaborations with Bulgarian vocal ensemble Trio Bulgarka, a darkly comic tale of a night out with Hitler ("Heads We're Dancing") and a prescient warning of how technology was replacing human relationships ("Deeper Understanding"), not to mention arguably her most poignant ballad, the motherhood anthem "This Woman's Work." Following a brief foray into acting in the Comic Strip special "Les Dogs" (BBC1, 1990), in which she played a bride at a wedding set in post-apocalyptic Britain, and a hit cover version of Elton John's "Rocket Man," Bush scored her highest-charting US album with 1993's The Red Shoes. Featuring guest appearances from Prince, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, her most star-studded release to date was accompanied by a short film, "The Line, The Cross & The Curve," which she starred in, wrote and directed.

Bush then went on a self-imposed decade-long hiatus in order to raise her son Bertie and earned an unwanted reputation as a recluse, with her only notable public appearances an on-stage duet with mentor Dave Gilmour at London's Royal Albert Hall in 2002 and the acceptance of her Q magazine Classic Songwriter and Ivor Novello Outstanding Contribution to Music awards. However, Bush eventually returned to the fold in 2005 with Aerial, an ambitious double album which followed the two-part structure of Hounds of Love and featured everything from odes to washing machines ("Mrs Bartolozzi") to songs about the meaning of mathematical symbols ("π") to a 42-minute suite about a summer's day ("A Sky Of Honey"), and also produced her biggest UK hit in 20 years with lead single "King of the Mountain."

Following another lengthy period away from the spotlight, Bush then became relatively prolific in 2011 when she released both Director's Cut, a collection of reworked material from her The Sensual World and The Red Shoes albums, and 50 Words For Snow, a winter-themed family affair which featured appearances from son Bertie and husband Dan McIntosh as well as narration from acclaimed British actor Stephen Fry. A year later, she recorded a new version of "Running Up That Hill" for the closing ceremony of the London Olympics but declined an invitation to perform.

Bush saved her most surprising career move for 2014 when she announced she would be returning to the stage for a 22-night run at London's Hammersmith Apollo named "Before The Dawn."

Credits

2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

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2023

Celebrating Kate Bush

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2022

The Hounds Run Up The Hill

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2022

Rock Hall '19 Snubs

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2018

Hit Melody Vintage

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2015

Kate Bush: Sensual World

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2014

Kate Bush at the BBC

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2014

Sounds of the 70s

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2013

Duets at the BBC

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2012

Kate Bush: Under Review

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2007

Kate Bush: And So Is Love

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2004

Kate Bush: Eat the Music

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2004

Kate Bush: Rubberband Girl

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2004

Kate Bush: The Red Shoes

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2004

Dinosaurier

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2000

Dinosaur

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DinosaurStream

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2000
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Kate Bush: This Woman's Work

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1989

Kate Bush: And Dream Of Sheep

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1985

The Comic Strip Presents

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1982

Kate Bush: Babooshka

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1980

ABBA in Switzerland

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1979

Saturday Night LiveStream

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1975

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