FAMED BRITTISH #1
ENGLISH SINGER / SONGWRITER / MUSICIAN AND RECORD PRODUCER
Catherine “Kate” Bush was born 30 July 1958 in Welling, Northwest Kent to parents Robert Bush and Hannah Daly. She has two older brothers John and Paddy.
Bush has a very artistic background. Her father Robert was a physician and accomplished pianist, and mother Hannah an Irish folk dancer. Brother Paddy worked as a musical instrument maker, and brother John was a Poet and photographer. With this musical influence, Kate was inspired to teach herself the piano at the age of 11. She also mastered the organ and violin. It wasn’t long after, she began writing her own music and then added lyrics to them.
Bush had been writing songs for two years and had over 50 compositions. Together with her family, she put them onto a demo tape, however the record companies weren’t inspired to give her a recording contract. Ricky Hopper a family friend then took the tape to his friend David Gilmour, a member of the band Pink Floyd and told him about the 16 year olds four octave range and interest in the supernatural.
Impressed with what he heard, Gilmour worked with Bush, to get a more professional sounding demo tape recorded that would be more saleable to record companies. Gilmour financed the project himself and three tracks were chosen for the tape. The tape was produced by a friend of Gilmour, Andrew Powell, who unbeknown to any of them at the time, would go onto produce her first two albums.
Once completed, the tape arrived on the desk of EMI executive Terry Slater. Slater was impressed by what he heard, and immediately signed her to a retainer for two years. At the time, the British music industry was reaching a point of stagnation. Visually oriented rock performers were growing in popularity, and recording labels were totally open to experimenting with such artists.
Bob Mercer, the Managing Director at EMI felt Bush’s songs were good enough to release, but had concerns, that if the album failed, he felt that because of Bush’s age, she may not have been able to cope with it. Placing Bush on a retainer gave them all the much needed time for Bush to grow both personally and musically. For the next two years, Bush stayed in school and continued to study music, and pen some 200 songs. Bush later in an interview said, she felt that EMI signed her to the retainer, to stop her from signing with another record company.
After formalising the contract, Bush was given a sizeable advance, which she used to enrol in interpretive dance classes and mime training. For six months, she also performed as lead vocalist in a band called “KT Bush Band”. Finally in August 1977, Bush began recording her debut album.
Her debut album “The Kick Inside” was released when she was 19 years old, however some of the tracks that appeared on it, were written when she was 13 years old
Both Bush and EMI Executives were at logger heads over which single to release as her debut single. EMI wanted to go with “James and the Cold Gun” but Bush was determined to start off her career with the song “Wuthering Heights”. The single was released and it hit #1 position in both the UK and Australia. Bush became the first woman in the UK to reach #1 position with her own composition. Her second release “The Man with The Child In His Eyes” reached number 6 in the UK and similar in Australia.
Feeling pressure from EMI to publish another album, Bush decided to set up her own publishing company “Kate Bush Music” and her own management company “Novercia”, to maintain total control over her work. Members of her immediate family made up the companies Board of Directors. Part of her contractual obligations to EMI included promotional work and a follow up tour on the back of the album release. The tour named “The Tour Of Life” (1970) lasted six weeks. Typical of her need to control every aspect of her performance, she was involved in every aspect of the tour from choreography, to set design and staff recruitment. The show was noted for her dancing, complex lighting and 17 costume changes.
Bush’s second album titled “Never Ever” saw her collaborating with Jon Kelly and heavily involved in the production of the album. The album became her first to reach #1 in the UK charts. Her top selling single from the album was a song titled “Babooshka” which reached #5.
In September 1982, Bush released album number three “The Dreaming” the first album Bush totally produced by herself. The critics weren’t kind. Most feeling the album was “Overproduced” and lacked the energy and trademark sound of her earlier albums. It entered the charts at number three, and to date still holds the title of the lowest selling album, receiving only a silver status.
Since she has recorded and produced Hounds of love (1985), The Sensual World (1989), The Red Shoes (1993), Aerial (2005), Directors Cut (2011), and 50 Words for Snow (2011).
Kate has been quoted saying that “there’s always room for humour in music” and it’s a shame that musicians tend to take themselves so seriously. So in 1991, True to herself, she released her own version of mate Elton Johns “Rocket Man’ with a very reggae feel and use of ukulele. The song hit #12 in the Uk, but faired much better in Oz climbing to #2.
Kate has always been taken very seriously over the years as an artist who also happens to have a highly collectible body of work. In 2012, Bush received her CBE From Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle for ‘Services to the Music Industry.
Bush is married to guitarist Dan McIntosh and together the couple have a son Albert. After 1993’s The Red Shoes (much Prince; a fun calypso tune about fruit), Bush took a leave of absence from the limelight to focus on bringing up her son. Rumours abounded: had she lost it? Was she tired of fame?
Clearly not, but perhaps after such a long hiatus from the music industry, she needed a little push, or more a shove back into it. This came with her son Bertie, as he is affectionately known. When Bush introduced one of the five backing singers during her first live concert in 35 years as her son Bertie, it took the whole crowd by surprise. With his stylish suit, weaved hat and wispy beard, he looked far older than his 16 years.
However, that wasn’t the only part Bertie played in the pop legends long-awaited comeback.
He was a key character in two mini-plays during the epic three-hour show, where he sang the lead on a new song called ‘Tawny Moon’ and covered the parts originally recorded by disgraced Rolf Harris on ‘The Painter’s Link’.
Kate revealed: “In March 2013 I said to Bertie ‘shall we do some live shows?’ to which he replied, ‘Absolutely!
So in 2014, Bertie gave Bush all the encouragement she needed to return to the stage, as without his encouragement and enthusiasm, particularly in the early stages, Bush was sure she would have backed out. The success of the mother-son partnership, sold out 22 live shows in London.
Kate Bush is undeniably one of the most successful and popular solo female performers to come out of England.