100 things you thought you knew about Kate Bush but were afraid to ask.
By Robert Godwin
1) Kate Bush has had hit records in every time zone except the ones in the middle of the ocean.
2) She has recorded in three languages, English, French and Gaelic.
3) She earned 10 “O” Levels in 1975.
4) Bush grew up on a farm with her family in the south-east London suburb of East Wickham.
5) She learned expressive mime from Lindsay Kemp the same man who trained David Bowie.
6) Her brothers are also artistically inclined; John is a photographer and writer, and Paddy a musician. Both have worked extensively with her on her career.
7) She has performed THREE extended strings of live performances, one in 1977, one in 1979 and the most recent in 2014.
8) She has performed live in 12 countries, England, Scotland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Italy, USA, Japan, Switzerland and Australia. Sometimes singing, sometimes dancing. Her records have been released in at least two dozen countries.
9) She reached many fans in Eastern Europe through pirate records, flexi-discs and postcards manufactured in street-side recording kiosks. Her albums were also released in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.
10) She lived in Australia as a child.
11) Deane Cameron the President of EMI Canada was a huge fan and helped her break into the Canadian market while the USA lagged behind.
12) Also in Canada, EMI released unique coloured vinyl records, interview discs, EPs, unique jacket art, marbled cassette tapes, in-store promotional displays and bi-lingual posters.
13) Her music videos were being played in Italy, England, Australia, New Zealand, Holland and Canada at least three years before MTV went on the air in the USA.
14) She was discovered by Ricky Hopper, a publicist for Transatlantic Records a British indie label.
15) Hopper played her home recordings for Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd.
16) Gilmour paid to put her into his studio with (amongst others) Peter Perryer and Pat Martin of the band Unicorn who helped her record better demos.
17) Gilmour played the demos for EMI boss Bob Mercer during the recording sessions for Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album.
18) In an unprecedented show of intelligence Bob Mercer and Terry Slater of EMI gave Bush an advance on her publishing and a stipend to go and learn how to play live before putting her into the studio to record her first album.
19) Bush signed to EMI in July 1976.
20) In late 1976 her brother Paddy’s friend Brian Bath recruited two of his former band mates to come and rehearse with Kate in the boiler room of a public swimming pool in the town of Greenwich. They then moved into the barn on the Bush family farm and continued practicing for months.
21) In April 1977 Brian Bath secured a short residency for the band at the Rose of Lee pub in the town of Lewisham. They named themselves The KT Bush Band; a name she didn’t like.
22) The KT Bush Band included Bush, guitarist Bath, bassist Del Palmer and drummer Vic King. Brother Paddy Bush would also play with the band.
23) Between April and June 1977 The KT Bush Band would play 20 shows in at least eight different venues, including The Rose of Lee, Tiffanys in Harlow, The Seven Stars in Brighton, The Half Moon in Putney, the Target in Greenford, The Duke of Richmond in Kensington, The Black Cat in Lewisham and the Royal Albert in New Cross. (Most of these are still in business.)
24) They had a tough reception in Putney on June 3rd 1977 when soccer fans were more interested in stirring up trouble before an international game the next day. Their last pub show was three days later on June 6th 1977 in Brighton.
25) They learned at least 20 songs including music by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye and Kate Bush. In 2010 a recording of one of these songs leaked onto Youtube.
26) Kate Bush’s first television appearance was in Germany on 9th February 1978. She performed one song live with the KT Bush Band and one song miming and dancing. The show was called Bio’s Bahnhof. This performance was plugged on the picture sleeve of the German single.
27) Her first single, Wuthering Heights, was played for two months on Capitol Radio in London before it was officially released. She chose the song for the single despite protestations from EMI.
28) Her first album was recorded in the summer of 1977 in London at AIR studios.
29) For her debut album she used musicians from the bands Cockney Rebel and Pilot because EMI thought her own band might not be up to the task. (They were, but that’s another story.)
30) Her first British TV appearance was on Top Of The Pops on February 16th 1978. She sang live, accompanied by the TOTP house band/orchestra which was out of time and tune.
31) The following week she performed on a British TV show called Saturday Night At The Mill. She and the KT Bush Band performed live versions of Them Heavy People and Moving from the debut album. During the performance she demonstrated her choreography but with one hand still having to hold a microphone.
32) She appeared on TOTP two weeks later and this time sat at the piano to perform Wuthering Heights and again despite problems with the TOTP orchestra she shrugged it off.
33) Her single reached #1 on the British charts on March 9th 1978 making her the first woman in history to write and perform her own #1 song. The song was also performed at the Festivalbar music festival in Italy where she won the newcomer of the year award. Her performance in Sanremo, Italy was also broadcast into the Soviet Union.
34) The promotional images for her album were shot by noted photographer Gered Mankowitz and famously and controversially featured her in a leotard.
35) Her first single did not chart at all in America despite hitting the top ten in at least twelve countries.
36) Her second single, The Man with the Child in His Eyes, made it into the US top 100 despite not doing as well as the first single in all the other countries.
37) Canadian national broadcaster, the CBC, aired Kate Bush performing live in Switzerland as part of an ABBA special. She mimed and danced to the song Wow.
38) The first PAY TV channel in Canada, Superchannel, bought the broadcast rights for her Hammersmith Odeon concert and aired it alongside their movie roster for the next three years.
39) Canadian TV channel, CityTV, created several features on Kate Bush which were aired across the country.
40) Her only live performance in America was on Saturday Night Live in December 1979, where she performed Them Heavy People and The Man With The Child in his Eyes. She was introduced by Monty Python comedian Eric Idle. It was rebroadcast in October 1982 and April 1983 and then innumerable times since.
41) Bush also knows Michael Palin, Terry Jones, John Cleese and Terry Gilliam of Monty Python. She has also appeared with British comedians Kenny Everett, Peter Cook, Dawn French, Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, Ben Elton, Lenny Henry and Stephen Fry.
42) Bush sang the title song for Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil.
43) Hugh Laurie performed in her video for Experiment IV and then she worked with him again at one of the Secret Policeman’s Ball charity concerts.
44) Kate Bush has worked for many charity causes including Amnesty International, Ferry Aid, Greenpeace, The Prince’s Trust, Comic Relief and in November 1979 she played a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the London Symphony Orchestra.
45) Stephen Fry performed on her 50 Words For Snow album. She’s known him since at least 1986.
46) Bush met Peter Gabriel and Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel through their mutual acquaintance, lighting tech, Bill Duffield. Duffield died after a tragic fall while cleaning up at the end of Bush’s concert tour warm-ups in 1979. Gabriel, Bush and Steve Harley staged a benefit concert for Duffield’s family in 1979.
47) During her second concert tour, in 1979, she had 12 other performers on stage with her, including three members of the KT Bush Band, two dancers, two backing singers and four other session musicians. Rehearsals were held at Wharf Studio in Greenwich, Shepperton Studios and the London Rainbow.
48) The musicians who played on her first album also provided the backing for the Alan Parsons Project and recorded the soundtrack album for the movie LadyHawke.
49) In 1979 Bush performed at the Tokyo Music Festival in front of a live audience of 11,000 people at the Budokan and in front of 35 million people on television.
50) She performed three Beatles songs for the Japanese TV show Sounds in S and also performed a straight dance version of Them Heavy People with several Japanese dancing partners.
51) While in Japan she recorded a television commercial for Seiko watches.
52) Two former members of British art rock band 10cc have recorded with Kate Bush. Lol Creme and Duncan McKay.
53) In October 1978 she appeared on Australia’s Countdown, one of the earliest pioneering video shows. She danced to Hammer Horror. Another of the earliest all-video television programs to feature Kate Bush was little known Italian TV show Pop, Rock and Soul which also aired in Canada in 1980.
54) In 1982 pubs in Canada organized Kate Bush Video Parties.
55) Kate Bush earned two gold and five platinum albums in Canada but only one gold album in the USA.
56) In England every album but The Dreaming went gold and only Never For Ever and 50 Words for Snow didn’t go platinum. Ironically, The Dreaming was her first album to chart in the USA. Despite not selling as well as the rest of her catalog Never For Ever was the first album written by a female solo artist to go to #1 in the UK.
57) In 1981 Bush was interviewed by famed anthropologist Desmond Morris. Bush never hesitated for a second even when asked tripwire questions like “Do you like your voice?” Without missing a beat she not only said that she didn’t, but then she launched into a frank and coherent explanation of why.
58) Granada television recorded her 1979 performance in Manchester England for a TV documentary, but it was never aired, perhaps because rival BBC ran a similar documentary which covered all of the preparations for the tour and footage from Liverpool.
59) Despite the speculation of the critics who have said she doesn’t like to appear in public, Bush herself stated in 1979 and 1981 that performing live was the highlight of her career. She restated this in 2011.
60) Despite the press claiming that she hates to travel, after her first flight to Holland in 1978 she said she loved it and wanted to do more. She has made more than one trip to Australia. At least two trips to North America, one to Jamaica, and one trip to Japan.
61) Dave Gilmour performed with her live at the Secret Policeman’s Third Ball in 1987, and along with Peter Gabriel they sang the Beatles Let It Be. Gilmour also played on her album The Sensual World. She performed with him live at his 2002 concert in London singing Comfortably Numb.
62) Bush is a fan of literature and films. In an interview in 1978 she said that it was the television series of Wuthering Heights, starring future James Bond, Timothy Dalton and Bond-girl Angela Scoular, that first spurred her interest to read the book by Emily Bronte.
63) A documentary on composer Frederick Delius made by Ken Russell which aired in the 1960s attracted her to his music. She later appeared on television with Delius’ amanuensis Eric Fenby.
64) She is a fan of the fantasy works of JM Barrie and Hans Christian Andersen, as well as author Peter Reich, but she also liked the science fiction of John Wyndham Beynon Harris.
65) Her first two albums were produced by famed composer and arranger Andrew Powell from prog band Henry Cow. Bush began producing for her third album and every one since.
66) Many prog-rock and classic rock virtuosos have recorded or performed with Bush, including Peter Gabriel, Dave Gilmour, Phil Collins, Roy Harper, Francis Monkman, Gary Brooker, Andy Fairweather-Low, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Elton John. She sang on Gabriel’s singles Don’t Give Up and Games Without Frontiers.
67) Other household names to work with her include Rolf Harris, Nigel Kennedy and Prince. Harris performed on both The Dreaming and Aerial.
68) The success of her third and fourth albums allowed her to move up from a small eight track studio that she had been using in her home to a full 24 track recording studio, designed and built in part by her father in the family barn. She used this new studio to record The Hounds of Love, perhaps her most successful album. The lead single from this album would later be remixed and used for the London Olympics in 2012.
69) In the late 1980s she wrote a piece of music to be accompanied by the words of Irish poet James Joyce. The Joyce estate declined her request to use the words but then 22 years later changed their mind. This led to two versions of the song, The Sensual World and then Flower of the Mountain. Kate Bush is half Irish, on her mother’s side.
70) The Sensual World would be her only gold album in America. It was also her first not released on Capitol/EMI.
71) In 1991 she recorded Elton John’s Rocket Man for a tribute album. She has frequently mentioned Elton John as an influence on her music.
72) In 2011 Elton John recorded Snowed in on Wheeler Street for her 50 Words for Snow album. Elton John recently stated that Kate's performance on Don't Give Up helped him through personal problems.
73) A box set of all of her albums plus two CDs of B-Sides was released in the UK, Canada and Japan in the early 1990s.
74) A box set of her singles, along with a video compilation was released in England and Canada in the early 1980s. Both were named The Single File.
75) Her first greatest hits album was named The Whole Story and was released in 1987. It also had a new recording of Wuthering Heights and came accompanied by a video version of the album.
76) The Whole Story video package was released again in 1994 and included extra tracks. It came out twice on VideoCD and is the nearest thing (so far) to a DVD release of any of her films.
77) The Hammersmith concert, The Single File, The Whole Story, a video package called Hair Of the Hound, another called The Sensual World The Videos and her film The Line The Cross and the Curve were all released on Laserdisc and videotape, but none are officially available on DVD or BluRay (yet.)
78) Her film The Line, The Cross and the Curve was premiered at the London Film Festival and featured Bush acting, singing and dancing alongside Miranda Richardson and Lindsay Kemp. She later said she didn’t like the film very much. She had acted once before in the TV show Comic Strip.
79) The lead single Rubberband Girl from her album The Red Shoes didn’t perform as well in England as her previous efforts, but again did better than most of her previous songs in America.
80) Despite the stories of her disappearing for 12 years, Bush recorded and released three songs between 1993 and 2005.
81) In 1994 she performed Gershwin’s The Man I Love with harmonica legend Larry Adler. In 1995 she sang, Mná na hÉireann (Women of Ireland) which would be released on several virtually unknown albums around the world. She sang the entire song in Gaelic. In 1998 she re-recorded the theme song from the movie Brazil for a Michael Kamen album.
82) The incomparable Michael Kamen provided the orchestrations for the album Aerial.
83) In 2001 she appeared in public to accept the Classic Songwriter Award at the Q Music awards show in London.
84) In 2011 she released Director’s Cut, a re-recording and re-singing of songs from her previous two albums The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. She used analog technology and changed the key to fit her voice. She used Joyce’s words from the soliloquy by Mollie Bloom in Ulysses in the opening track.
85) By the time MTV first went on the air in August 1981 Bush had already created videos for The Man With the Child in His Eyes, Breathing, Wow, Army Dreamers, Sat In Your Lap, Babooshka, and two different videos for Wuthering Heights.
86) In 1979 three documentary films about Bush were broadcast, two in England, one in Holland, (a fourth made by Granada TV was never aired and was a documentary about her concert tour.) Footage from the concert in Sweden was also made.
87) In her 1979 Christmas special she mustered up dance/mime/acting routines that included December Will Be Magic, Violin, Hammer Horror, The Kick Inside, Them Heavy People, Ran Tan Waltz, The Wedding List, Don’t Push Your Foot On The Heartbrake, Egypt, and a duet with Peter Gabriel performing Roy Harper’s haunting Another Day. She later sang on Harper’s album The Unknown Soldier and he sang on her album Never For Ever.
88) Bush started making videos in 1978, at least two years before most of the names associated with the music video boom. Duran Duran's Girls on Film which launched their career was in 1981. Peter Gabriel’s Shock The Monkey came along in 1982 and Sledgehammer was four years after that. Even David Bowie’s seminal Ashes to Ashes came behind many of Kate’s early video achievements.
89) Unlike many traditional mime artists Bush is fond of props. During her live concert performances she has used dustbin lids, chairs, rifles and walking violins. For her filmed productions she has used doves, falcons, lasers, binoculars, an orb and scepter, flashlights, a straitjacket, a yoyo, a double bass, umbrellas, and stuffed giraffes all the way through to such enormous props as the rainmaking machine in Cloudbusting, designed by H.R. Giger.
90) Kate Bush has used toy handguns and rifles as props on stage since her London pub shows in 1977. She also used it in a video for The Wedding List. No one complained, in fact many media featured images of her wielding the gun in their reports. When Madonna used a gun as a prop on stage in Colorado in 2012 she was booed and chastised.
91) Many famous actors have worked with Kate Bush. Donald Sutherland and Hugh Laurie, Miranda Richardson, Tim McInnerny, Dawn French, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Vernon, Peter Vaughan and Lindsay Kemp. (If you don’t recognize all of these names, just think Beatles, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, M*A*S*H, House, Indiana Jones, Dr Who etc.)
92) In her video for Deeper Understanding made in 2011 Bush does not appear at all. The video stars Robbie Coltrane. The promotional videos for 50 Words For Snow are also non-representational and feature shadow puppet animations.
93) Bush trained under Arlene Phillips who created the extremely popular dance troupe known as Hot Gossip. In Japan Bush would show what she had learned when she danced with a group of local male dancers to a stylized orchestrated version of Them Heavy People.
94) Bush dated her bass player and engineer Del Palmer for 15 years before settling down with guitarist Dan McIntosh.
95) Bush and McIntosh’s son Albert sang lead vocals on the opening track of 50 Words For Snow. He also provided some artwork for Aerial.
96) Bush was the first singer/songwriter to stage a concert where she danced alongside a team of professional dancers, but did so while still singing live through a headset microphone. This literally rewrote the book on how singers could perform live.
97) By the time that Michael Jackson created his legendary Thriller album, and its enormously successful cinematic videos, Kate Bush had been creating cinematic videos for over three years, starting with Breathing. Some critics even consider her 1978 Wuthering Heights video, shot on location in the countryside, as an early cinematic since it partially portrays the character of Cathy.
98) Every time you see Britney Spears, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry or even the legendary Michael Jackson strutting their stuff, in time, with companions on either side, while singing (or in some cases not) into a wireless headset, go and take a look at Kate Bush Live at the Hammersmith Odeon and then look at the date on it.
99) Many other artists owe her a musical debt. Some admit it, some don’t. These include Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Bjork, Florence and the Machine, Ladyhawke (named after the movie perhaps?), PJ Harvey and the list goes on and on. Her most improbable fan was John Lydon of the Sex Pistols who famously said, “Kate Bush and her grand piano, it’s like John Wayne and his saddle…thank you.”
100) In April 1977 people paid nothing to see Kate Bush perform her first live shows. In March 1979 she announced a concert tour and demand was so high she had to add extra shows; the whole tour, 100,000 tickets, sold out in 15 days. In March 2014 she announced her third “tour” and again had to add more shows totaling approximately 80,000 tickets. This sold out in 15 minutes; just a mere 35 years and ten days later.
Robert Godwin is the author of The Illustrated Collector's Guide to Kate Bush (seen in its entirety below, try the Deep Zoom to read the book.) He has written and edited over 200 books on music, spaceflight and pop culture, including his award winning NASA Mission Reports. He lives in Toronto Canada and is one of the 80,000 people who attended the Kate Bush concerts in 2014.