This biography has been made based on information taken from The Garden on GaffaWeb and news articles from Séan Twomey's Kate Bush News & Information site.
On 30 July 1958 Kate Bush is born as Catherine Bush in Bexleyheath Maternity Hospital, South East London, as the third child of Robert John Bush (a doctor ) and Hannah Bush (a nurse). She has two brothers: John Carder (Jay), born in 1944, and Patrick (Paddy), born in 1952. She has an ordinary childhood growing up in an old farm (East Wickam Farm) in Bexley, Kent. Around 1964, Kate is around six years old, her family moves to New Zealand and Australia. Initially her parents plan to move there, but after a few months they return to England.
In September 1969 Kate starts at St. Joseph's Senior School inBexley. She is obliged to take up the violin, as all pupils have to learn an instrument. She plays well, but does not enjoy it. She teaches herself to play the piano and at about this time she begins to set her poems to her own chord formulations. By 1971 embryonic versions of songs such as The Man With the Child in His Eyes and Saxophone Song begin to emerge. Kate follows her elder brother John and begins to develop her poetry. Her piano playing is an outlet for her frustration. She is heavily influenced by an interest in Greek mythology.
At the suggestion of Kate's family, Ricky Hopper, a friend with music business connections, tries to place "demo tapes" of Kate's songs with a record company, with a publishing deal in mind. This is in the year 1972. At this stage Kate considers herself more of a writer than a singer. These original tapes have over thirty songs on each. All the major companies are approached. None accepts. Kate's songs are described as "morbid", "boring" and "uncommercial". Kate feels that she cannot pursue a career in music and considers the alternatives: psychiatry or social work.
Unable to help further, Ricky Hopper makes contact with Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd, whom he knew at Cambridge University. Gilmour, who at this time is spotting for talent that he can assist, is persuaded to listen to the demos and then to hear Kate perform. He is impressed, and agrees to help. In 1973 Kate records at Gilmour's home studio. The backing band is comprised of Gilmour himself on guitar, and Peter Perrier and Pat Martin of Unicorn on drums and bass, respectively. The songs recorded at this stage include Passing Through Air (later to surface on the b-side of the 1980 single Army Dreamers) and a song now known as Maybe.The new demos are again circulated to record companies with no result.
With no progress in her musical ambitions, Kate seriously considers a career in psychiatry. In 1974 she takes her "O Level" examination and obtains ten "Pass" grades, with best results in English, music and Latin. One year later, in 1975, Gilmour decides that the only way to interest the record companies in Kate's talent is to make a short three-song demo to full professional standards. He puts up the money. Kate goes into Air Studios in London's West End, with Gilmour as producer, Andrew Powell as arranger, Geoff Emerick as engineer. The three songs recorded are Saxophone Song (also known at this stage as Berlin), The Man With the Child in His Eyes, and a song which fans refer to as Maybe.
In July 1975 Kate takes her "mock A Level" examinations. While Pink Floyd are at Abbey Road Studios recording Wish You Were Here, Gilmour plays the three-track demo to Bob Mercer, then General Manager of EMI's pop division. Mercer is impressed and negotiations are opened. The deal takes some time to conclude. It is much discussed at meetings between Kate, her family, Gilmour and EMI. In 1976 Kate gets a small inheritance, and decides to leave school to concentrate on preparing herself for a career in music. She buys an old honky-tonk piano for 200 Pounds and begins screeching into existence her unmistakable voice. The EMI deal begins to take shape. A publishing contract is settled first.
In March 1976 Kate takes her driving test and fails. In July she finally settles a recording deal with EMI. The contract is for four years, with options at the end of the second and third year. Kate receives a 3,000-Pound advance and 500 Pounds for publication rights. EMI are content for Kate to take time to write songs, sharpen her lyrics, train her voice and generally have time to "grow up". Kate pursues her dancing, first at the Elephant and Castle, South London. But after seeing Lindsay Kemp perform in Flowers, she attends his classes at the Dance Centre in Covent Garden. After Kemp goes to Australia, Kate trains with Arlene Phillips, choreographer of Hot Gossip. In August Kate takes her driving test again and passes.
During the first year of the contract Kate makes two further demo tapes (Very possibly these include the twenty-two recordings now making the rounds among fans). She resists EMI's attempts to "commercialize" her songs. She pursues her dancing and moves away from home and into a flat in a house owned by her father in Lewisham, Southeast London, with her brothers as neighbours. In March 1977 Wuthering Heights is written at the full moon.A month later Kate's brother Paddy forms a band with his friends Del Palmer, Brian Bath and Charlie Morgan. Kate is asked to be the vocalist, and the band adopts the title of the KT Bush Band. Starting at the Rose of Lee public house in Lewisham, and then in pubs and clubs in and around London and the Home Counties over a three-month period, the band perform a varying set consisting mostly of rock-and-roll standards (Honky Tonk Women, Heard It Through the Grapevine, Come Together, Sweet Soul Music, Satisfaction, etc.), although latterly Kate sings Saxophone Song and James and the Cold Gun from her own repertoire.
In August 1977 Kate is finally called in to record material for an album. Though the songs recorded are all Kate's own material, her role is confined to vocals, some piano-playing and some simple piano arrangements. It is decided to use eleven songs from this session and two from the 1975 Gilmour demo on the album. In September EMI want to release James and the Cold Gun as the first single. Kate wants Wuthering Heights, and she gets her way. On 4 November the original release date for Wuthering Heights. At a late stage Kate asks EMI to change the artwork on the picture-sleeve from the "pink top" photo to Del Palmer's photo-concept of Kite. She gets her way, and all the campaign materials are altered.
By the time the new campaign material is ready, Christmas is approaching and EMI are unwilling to launch their new artist into the pre-Christmas maelstrom. The release date is put back until the new year. Many demos [i.e., promos] of the single have already been sent out to radio producers. EMI tries to retrieve them to prevent premature airplay. Eddie Puma, producer of London commercial station Capital Radio's Late Show, and Tony Myatt, the presenter, admire the record so much that they decide to play it, and continue to play it throughout November and December. Other radio stations follow. Wuthering Heights is an airplay hit two months before release.
On 20 January 1978 Wuthering Heights is finally released. Kate does her first live radio interview on Tony Myatt's Late Show. On 7 February the song enters the "official" BMRB chart at number 42. Two days later Kate makes her first-ever television appearance in a disused tram depot in West Germany, for the famous Bio's Bahnhof on WDR-TV. She sings Kite live, backed effectively by the KT Bush Band, and Wuthering Heights to a backing tape. Following her performance the host, Dr. Alfred Biolek, carries on an entirely one-sided onstage conversation with Kate--in German.
On 14 February 1978 the single had moved up to number 27. Having cracked the magic "top forty", the gates open and Kate appears on Top of the Pops. She performs in high heels and slacks. Kate says later, "It was like watching myself die...a bloody awful performance." On 17 February Kate's first album, The Kick Inside, is released, and a huge promotional campaign is unleashed. The first major interviews appear in the music press, and Kate is the subject of intense media attention. Kate is said to be the most photographed woman in the U.K.
On 7 March 1978 Wuthering Heights reached the number 1 position on the British singles chart, displacing Abba. Kate celebrates by buying a 7,000-Pound Steinway piano. The single celebrates by going silver in the U.K. (250,000 sales) and remains at number 1 for four weeks. In April The Kick Inside reaches its chart peak at number 3. A month later Wuthering Heights goes gold in the U.K. (500,000 sales). EMI allow Kate to have her way over the choice of the follow-up single in the U.K. It is to be The Man With the Child in His Eyes, which Kate had always wanted to be a single, as she felt it showcased her real songwriting talent. It is less of a novelty, and more of a standard. In Japan, the U.S. and elsewhere the follow-up later in the year will be EMI's first choice, Them Heavy People.
In June Kate goes to Japan to participate in the 7th Tokyo Song Festival. Also during her visit to Japan she makes her only television advertisement, and her only endorsement for a commercial product--a spot for Seiko watches. On her return to Britain Kate has under four weeks to get material together for her second album. She does not like being under such pressure. In the time available, three new songs are written, and a number of old ones are revamped. These songs, making up the basic material for Lionheart, are demoed in a studio designed by Paddy Bush and built out of the royalties from Wuthering Heights.
By then Kate had become the best selling female albums artist in the U.K. for the first quarter of 1978. Wuthering Heights has been number 1 in the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand (five weeks), and Australia; and "top-ten" in Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. On 4 July 1978 The Man With the Child in His Eyes reaches its chart peak in the U.K. at number 6. The Kick Inside is re-released in the U.S.A. on a new label--EMI-America. Wuthering Heights is finally released as a single in the U.S. There are some good notices, but Kate is considered by radio programmers to be "too bizarre" for the American market. On 10 November Kate's second album, Lionheart, is released internationally. A month later the Kate Bush Club, the official fan club, is formed.
On 17 February 1979 The Man With the Child in His Eyes enters the U.S. Billboard Hot One Hundred, the first of Kate's singles to do so. It remains there for four weeks, peaking at number 85. On 5 March the video for Wow is shown on television for the first time on The Kenny Everett Video Show. The tickets for Kate's first tour go on sale the same day. Kate is training to the pitch of an Olympic athlete for a tour that will last a month and a half, with Kate on stage almost continually for two and a half hours for most evenings during that period. (Only the Copenhagen, Hamburg and Amsterdam dates would be shortened, due to illness.) On 20 March the tour is completely sold out. Extra dates are announced at the London Palladium, the Birmingham Hippodrome, and the Manchester Apollo. These are also sold out in days. Kate is meanwhile maintaining absolute secrecy on the style and content of the show.
2 April 1979 was the tour playdate at Pool Arts Centre in Dorset. The performance is a total success, but is marred by the death of lighting engineer Bill Duffield, who falls from the lighting galley as the show is being packed up. The Liverpool Empire date, the first official date of the tour. Kate holds press conferences at each tour date, and is interviewed by the local press and radio. BBC TV screen a short documentary film as part of the Nationwide series, on the preparation and rehearsal for the tour. On 21 April the Abba Special is aired on BBC TV, including the routine for Wow. Kate announces that she will play a special benefit gig for the family of Bill Duffield when she returns from the European leg of the tour. Her special guests will be Peter Gabriel and Steve Harley, with whom Bill Duffield had worked in the past. Further extra dates are announced, including one at which the entire performance will be videotaped by the Keef MacMillan organization.
On 24 April the European tour commenced at Stockholm Concert House. Kate contracts a throat problem, and the next three dates are cut short. Following the tour, Kate takes some time to recover from what amounts to physical and mental exhaustion. In June she begins writing songs for her third album. In January 1980 Kate goes into Studio Two at Abbey Road for the five-month recording session which will complete her third album, Never For Ever. On 10 May 10 The Kate Bush Club holds its first convention at the Empire Ball Room, Leicester Square in London. Kate attends. The edited version of Keef MacMillan's recording of the May 13th concert (in the Hammersmith Odeon) is given its first public showing. After working twenty or more hours a day, Kate finishes Never For Ever. Its release is put back, however, until September. Kate takes a badly needed holiday.
On 23 June 1980 the single Babooshka is released. Because the technicians at the BBC are on strike, the video cannot be shown. Babooshka, however, is Kate's most successful single since Wuthering Heights. In August Kate puts down the first ideas for a new album, beginning the two-year project that would produce The Dreaming. On 8 September Never For Ever is released. Kate undertakes a very heavy promotional schedule. On 16 September the album enters the official chart at number 1. Kate is the first British solo female artist ever to reach the number 1 position on the British album charts. In October Kate resumes writing and making demos for the next album. She returns to Europe for more promotion in Austria (interviews only), Holland, Germany (Hamburg and Munich for more print and radio interviews), and France. Kate writes an article for the magazine Woman's World, entitled How Can You Eat Dead Animals?
In December 1980 Babooshka, which, outside the UK, has been the lead single from Never For Ever, is an international hit, reaching "top ten" status in most countries in Europe, as well as Australia and Canada. Kate's music has still made little impact in the United States, however. Her second and third albums have not even been released there, although a small but fiercely devoted cult following cause a vigorous trade in imports.
In January 1981 Kate takes two months off from everything to "recharge her batteries.". Kate's childhood home, East Wickham Farm, which has at its core a 14th-century hall, is listed as a building of special historic interest. In May Kate goes into Townhouse Studio to begin the recording work of The Dreaming album. In December she takes a break from recording to tighten melodies and lyrics. In March 1982 Kate finishes the overdubs and goes into the final mixing of the album. This session lasts two months. In May The Dreaming album is completed, after a combined work period of more than sixteen months. Kate goes off to Jamaica for a holiday.
On 21 July 1982, at 48 hours' notice, Kate is asked to take David Bowie's place in a Royal Rock Gala before HRH The Prince of Wales in aid of The Prince's Trust. She performs Wedding List live, backed by Pete Townsend and Midge Ure on guitars, Mick Karn on bass, Gary Brooker on keyboards and Phil Collins on drums. On 13 September the album The Dreaming is released. Written, arranged and produced by Kate around the rhythm box and the Fairlight CMI. The radio programmers and most of the British reviewers are mystified. The album demands more of them than they can give.
On 13 November EMI-America releases The Dreaming album, which enters the Billboard Top 200, the first of Kate's albums to do so. The album begins to get a crop of very good U.S. reviews praising its creativity. The album is pushed by spots on U.S. college radio, and towards the end of the year airplay begins to pick up. Kate begins to expand her small cult following in the U.S. to attract a wider audience. In January 1983 The Dreaming is in the top ten of "U.S. progressive radio stations" for 1982. Kate is under great pressure to tour to make up for the lack of obvious single success in the U.K. A tour is in fact very seriously considered, but finally not pursued. Kate decides that she will, after some time off, press on with another album.
In June 1983 the realisation of a long-planned project begins with the construction of Kate's own full standard studio, initially equipped with 24 tracks, then expanded to 48. Construction and equipping is to take six months. In September Kate begins some writing and demoing for the next album. In January 1984 the new studio being more or less ready, Kate begins work on her fifth album, directly demoing the songs and building on the original demo rather than re-recording. In June Kate begins overdubs--which have become the biggest job in Kate's recording process--on the new album. This time overdubs and mixing will last nearly 12 months.
A year later, in June 1985 Kate's fifth album Hounds of Love is completed. On 13 August 1985 Running Up That Hill enters the British singles chart at number 9. It garners enormous airplay and critical acclaim. It peaks at number 3 and is Kate's biggest single success since Wuthering Heights, far exceeding Babooshka in sales.In the U.S. the cable music channel MTV shy away from using the promotional video for Running Up That Hill. Instead they use the Wogan performance. It remains on moderate rotation for two months. On 22 August 1985 Kate appears on Top of the Pops for the first time since 1978, performing Running Up That Hill.
On 9 September 1985 Kate's fifth album, Hounds of Love, is launched at a massive party at the London Laserium, at which the whole album is played and accompanied by a dramatic laser light show. Kate appears for the first time in public in the company of her boyfriend of seven years, the bassist and engineer Del Palmer. Running Up That Hill is a huge international hit, being top ten in most of Europe, Australia and Canada. The Hounds of Love album is released to very good reviews. On 20 September Hounds of Love enters the official album chart at number 1. The Cloudbusting video is made partly on location in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire. It features Donald Sutherland as Wilhelm Reich, with the design of the cloudbusting machine itself undertaken by the artist H. R. Giger [constructed by Ken Hill].
On 10 February 1986 Kate performs Hounds of Love live at the British Phonographic Industry Awards presentation. She is nominated for (but does not win) three awards: Best Album, Best Single and Best Female Singer. In February Kate records a duet with Peter Gabriel for his fifth solo album. The track is called Don't Give Up. Kate abandons the plan to make a film version of The Ninth Wave side of the new album. For the making of the video for The Big Sky Kate assembles over one hundred fans on the sound stage of Elstree Studios. On 4 April Kate participates in the first of three Comic Relief shows at the Shaftesbury Theatre. She performs Breathing live and performs a duet of Do Bears Sh... in the Woods? with Rowan Atkinson. On 20 October Don't Give Up, the duet with Peter Gabriel of his song, is released as a single.
On 10 November
1986 The Whole Story, the first Kate Bush compilation album, is released. It
is promoted by the most expensive TV advertising campaign EMI has ever mounted.
Sales are massive. Despite reservations by Kate herself, EMI resolves to release
a video compilation of The Whole Story in 1987. Again, sales are enormous. The
worldwide commercial success of the album is greater than that of any of her
earlier albums. Meanwhile, Kate dives into the recording of a new studio album.
28/29 March 1987 Kate performs Running Up That Hill and Let It Be live with
David Gilmour at Amnesty International's Secret Policeman's Third Ball concerts.
In 1988 publication of The Kate Bush Club Newsletter is suspended pending the release of Kate's still-unfinished sixth studio album. In the Fall of 1988, after making contact with Joe Boyd, co-producer of the Balkana compilation album of traditional Bulgarian vocal music, Kate travels to Bulgaria to meet with Yanka Rupkina, Eva Georgieva and Stoyanka Boneva, nationally famous soloists who perform and record together under the group name Trio Bulgarka. Meeting again with the Bulgarians in England, Kate records three vocal tracks with Trio Bulgarka for the sixth album, and makes an appearance with the Bulgarian vocalists for a video-taped segment of the BBC series Rhythms of the World, which is broadcast in the spring of 1989.
Kate's sixth studio album is finally finished at the end of May. Kate's new single, The Sensual World, is released on 18 September and her sixth studio album, The Sensual World, is released at last on 16 October. The video for the first single is debuted during the week of 15 September. Meanwhile Kate's new U.S. label, Columbia Records, decides to release Love and Anger as their first Kate Bush single, and Kate, apparently trusting the company's knowledge of the American market, must rush to produce an accompanying video. The album does rather poorly in England, mainly for two reasons: the radio stations' refusal to play the music, and Kate's unwillingness to offer any more than minimal support for the record. She makes no personal signing appearances, and makes only a few brief television appearances. At the end of the year Kate's longtime electric guitarist Alan Murphy dies prematurely, and she attends his funeral in England.
In 1990 Kate's longtime dance partner Gary Hurst dies from complications arising from AIDS. Kate starts working on her next album. On Valentine's Day (14 February) 1992 Kate's mother, Hannah Bush, passed away. Instead of taking a break Kate keeps working on her new album and even writes and direct a film. Kate's sixth album The Red Shoes is dedicated to Hannah. The album is released in 1993 together with the movie The Line The Cross And The Curve that is built around the concept of The Red Shoes. Around this time Kate's long-time relationship with Del Palmer comes to an end.
At this time Kate feels exhausted. After some promotional activities for the album and the movie she decides to take a break. Eventually it takes two years before Kate starts to work on new material for her next album. By this time she is living with her new boyfriend Danny McIntosh, a guitarist with whom she has worked during the recording of The Red Shoes. In 1997 Kate finds herself pregnant and the next year she gives birth to a son named Bertie (full name Albert). Kate manages to keep his birth a secret until mid-2000. The English boulevard press write some nasty articles about it and Kate feels she has to rectify this. In a special message to her fans through the Kate Bush Club Kate writes "I just want everyone to know I am very happy and proud to have such a beautiful son, Bertie - he is absolutely gorgeous. Far from being secretive, I am just trying to be a good protective mother and give him as normal a childhood as possible whilst preserving his privacy - surely everyone can understand that". Fans reacted enthousiastically and send huge numbers of stuffed toys and congratulations.
The next years Kate continues to work on her new album. In October 2001 she makes her first public appearance since 1993 by attending the Q Awards. She wins the Best Classic Songwriter Award and receives a standing ovation. In her acceptance speech she says "This is just great, I am making an album but it is just taking a little longer than I thought and I have been having a great time with my son." The December issue of Q features the first interview with Kate since 1994.
In January 2002 Kate performs"Comfortably Numb" live together with Dave Gilmour during Gilmour's concert. This is her first live forformance in almost 15 years and fans are thrilled with the news. On 22 May Kate attends a special ceremony at the Royal Academy of Arts as part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations. The event honours the work of young artists to which the Queen donates prizes. Kate is introduced to the Queen with Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. It seems she has trouble recognising many of the big names. Kate, who is introduced to the Queen with Dynasty and Tenko actress Stephanie Beecham and former Monty Python cartoonist Terry Gilliam, says: 'She had to ask us all who we were...but she was lovely - she was radiant." Gilliam later admits to the BBC that he was amazed she hadn't recognised people like Kate who are known worldwide.
One day later, 23 May, Kate is among the musicians honoured at the prestigious Ivor Novello Awards ceremony in London. The awards honour the contribution of songwriters, composers and music publishers to the industry in 2001, selected by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. Kate receives the award "for her outstanding contribution to British music". Kate says in a very emotional acceptance speech: "It's so special to be thought of as a songwriter. This means so much to me, I'll really treasure this."
At this moment fans all over the world are waiting patiently for the release of Kate's eighth album, which according to Kate should be released at the end of 2002 or early 2003. To be continued... ;-)