Kate Bush - 60 Facts To Make You Go ‘Wow’

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Kate Bush - 60 Facts To Make You Go ‘Wow’

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Kate Bush, 1979 (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images)

1. Due to the fact MTV showed little interest in airing the video, the clip for Kate’s 1985 single “Cloudbusting” was aired in cinemas before the main event, Back To The Future.

2. Six years before their official duet “Don’t Give Up” was a worldwide hit, Bush performed backing vocals on Peter Gabriel’s album Peter Gabriel (Melt), including the 1980 single “Games Without Frontiers”.

3. The track “Room For The Life” on Kate’s debut album The Kick Inside features members of Kate’s studio band blowing beer bottles.

4. In the USA, Pat Benatar’s version of “Wuthering Heights” proved more familiar to the masses than Kate Bush’s recording, with the parent album Crimes Of Passion remaining in the US top 10 for more than six months upon release in 1980. It remains Pat Benatar’s biggest selling album.

5. Guitar heroes? 1993’s album The Red Shoes is awash with them. Eric Clapton performs on the track “And So Is Love”, Jeff Beck appears on “You’re The One” and Prince adds his handiwork to “Why Should I Love You?”.

6. Kate performed her single “Wow” on ABBA’s TV special in 1979. She was introduced by Bjorn and Benny from ABBA with the banter “Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a tree?” “No, it’s a Bush.”

7. In further proof Phil Collins has played with pretty much everyone, he joined Kate during a performance of Never For Ever’s “The Wedding List” at the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala in 1982. The performance also included The Who’s Pete Townshend and Ultravox’s Midge Ure on guitars.

8. In the same performance, Kate’s spaghetti straps on her silver camisole broke, resulting in Kate performing the remaining portion of the song holding her chest to prevent further wardrobe malfunctions. “Whoops,” Pete Townshend exclaimed as she delicately made her way off the stage.

9. The song “Hounds Of Love” features a sample from the 1957 horror film Night Of The Demon, which Kate has named one of her favourite films.

10. Monty Python member and 12 Monkeys director Terry Gilliam assisted in the creation of the impressive rainmaker machine featured in the “Cloudbusting” music video.

11. “A Deeper Understanding” on 1989’s The Sensual World was inspired by Kate’s interest in the works of Professor Stephen Hawking.

12. The Dreaming’s title track was initially named “Abo Song”, but was changed due to the offensive nature of the name. 

13. Never For Ever’s “The Wedding List” was inspired by Francois Truffaut’s 1968 film The Bride Wore Black (La ariée était en noir).

14. Utah Saints’ song “Something Good”, which hit the Australian top 10 in 1992, actually charted better in Australia than the Kate Bush song it heavily samples – “Cloudbusting” missed the Australian top 100 singles chart entirely.

kate bush facts 2
Kate Bush, 1980 (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

15. Written about a possessed building, 1982’s “Get Out Of My House” was inspired by Stephen King’s powerful novel The Shining.

16. In 1976 Kate Bush took lessons in movement with Lindsay Kemp, who had previously worked with David Bowie and had also studied with Marcel Marceau.

17. Kate’s song “Houdini” was inspired by the true story of Bess Houdini trying to contact her late husband, escapologist and spiritualism skeptic Harry Houdini, via séances.

18. Kate passed on singing the James Bond theme for 1979’s Moonraker. It was recorded by Shirley Bassey instead – her third and final Bond song.

19. It could be argued another James Bond, Timothy Dalton, inspired Bush’s debut single “Wuthering Heights”. It was the 1970 adaptation of the Emily Bronte novel of the same name, starring a young Dalton, that Kate watched as a youngster.

20. The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding appeared in the 2011 music video, “Deeper Understanding”, released to promote Kate’s Director’s Cut album. 

21. Kate made her first public performance of the 21st century (and first appearance on stage in 15 years) performing Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” with Floyd guitarist David Gilmour at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2002.

22. In 1994 Kate recorded short musical vignettes for the fruit drink Fruitopia’s television commercials. 

23. Actor and writer Stephen Fry appeared on 2011’s 50 Words For Snow album as Professor Joseph Yupik, reciting the title track’s various names for the frosty precipitation.

24. In 2001 Kate picked up the Q Award for Classic Songwriter. “Ooh, I’ve just come,” she exclaimed as she arrived at the podium.

25. Kate Bush attended Prince’s Wembley performance in 1990 and the two musicians chatted backstage. Both private, enigmatic and visionary artists, Bush would later send Prince an early version of The Red Shoes’ “Why Should I Love You” for his remote contribution.

26. The 1985 single “Hounds Of Love” was written partly as a homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s film The 39 Steps.

27. Following the death of lighting engineer Bill Duffield from a fall after a show during 1979’s The Tour Of Life, Bush penned Never For Ever’s “Blow Away (For Bill)” in his honour.

28. Engaged to write music for the Disney film Dinosaur in 1999, Bush withdrew from the project after she was asked to adjust her lyrics.

29. Kate recorded a vocal for the title track of her friend Terry Gilliam’s 1986 film Brazil, however this version wasn’t featured in the movie. Later reissues of the soundtrack included her recording.

30. The song “Cloudbusting” was based on the memoir A Book Of Dreams by Peter Reich. In the video, Kate plays Peter and Donald Sutherland plays his father, Wilhelm. 

31. In a 1980 episode of satirical program Not The Nine O’Clock News, Australian-born comedian Pamela Stephenson performed a cutting spoof of Kate Bush’s mystical performance style. “People buy my latest hits ‘cos they like my latex tits,” she squawked. 

32. Not The Nine O’Clock News alumnus Rowan Atkinson appeared on stage with Kate to perform comedy track “Do Bears…?” at a Comic Relief event in 1986.

33. Without David Gilmour’s guidance, the world might never have heard Kate Bush. Gilmour’s Cambridge associate Ricky Hopper, also a friend of Bush’s brother Jay, played Gilmour the 15-year-old’s home recordings. He visited the family property to hear Kate play, arranging her first recording session in his home studio with a scratch band he put together. He later paid for her first professional session at AIR Studios.

34. “The Infant Kiss” from 1980’s Never For Ever was based on the 1961 film The Innocents, which itself was based on Henry James horror novella The Turn Of The Screw.

35. Now 20 years old, Kate Bush’s son Bertie McIntosh made his first appearance on her 2005 album Aerial, speaking on the track “The Sun”. He later performed in Bush’s 2014 live return, Before The Dawn.

36. Rolf Harris isn’t the only Australian to have appeared on Bush albums. Melbourne-born guitarist John Williams, well known for his work in ‘70s fusion band Sky, played guitar on Hounds Of Love’s “The Morning Fog”.

37. Resembling rock outcrops on a flooded landscape, the cover of 2005 album Aerial in fact features a waveform of a blackbird’s call.

38. Donald Sutherland has said he only accepted a role in the “Cloudbusting” music video after Kate Bush appeared unannounced on his doorstep and walked him through the concept for the clip.

39. On 1989’s The Sensual World, Kate’s brother Paddy Bush ‘plays’ fishing rods on the title track to simulate the swishing motion of fly fishing.

40. The title track and artwork of Kate’s fourth album The Dreaming was influenced by a childhood trip to Australia with her family, where they encountered kangaroos and emus.

41. “Running Up That Hill” was initially called “A Deal With God”, but Kate’s record label EMI felt the title could limit its appeal in Catholic territories. “Although I was very unhappy about it, I felt unless I compromised I was going to be cutting my own throat,” Kate told BBC’s Radio One in 1992.

42. Dr Who actor Patrick Troughton originally considered for the role of Wilhelm Reich in the “Cloudbusting” video, later filled by American actor Donald Sutherland.

43. Gwyneth Paltrow recorded a cover of Kate’s song “This Woman’s Work” for Every Mother Counts : Songs Inspired By The Documentary No Woman, No Cry.

44. Almost two decades after Kate recorded covers of “Candle In The Wind” and “Rocket Man” for the tribute project Two Rooms, Elton John repaid the favour by appearing on Bush’s 50 Words For Snow album. Kate suggested “Snowed In At Wheeler Street” was written with Elton in mind, having been a fan of his since she was a teenager. “My absolute favourite was Madman Across The Water,” she said. “I just loved that record.” 

45. Best known for their Pretty Woman hit “The King Of Wishful Thinking” in 1990, Go West’s 1987 single “The King Is Dead” featured Kate Bush on vocals. The track stalled in the UK chart at 67.

46. With a title reflecting Bush’s love of the genre, “Hammer Horror” was inspired by the 1957 (non-Hammer) film Man Of A Thousand Faces, starring James Cagney as silent film star Lon Chaney.

47. Later appearing on 1989’s The Sensual World, “This Woman’s Work” was originally written by Kate for the 1988 John Hughes film She’s Having A Baby.

48. “Wild Man” on 2011’s 50 Words For Snow album was Kate’s reflection on the legend of the Abominable Snowman. In the album’s promotional interviews, Kate admitted she believed in the mysterious beast.

49. Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush allegedly wrote a collaboration titled “Ibiza” in 1979, around the time of their performance of the Roy Harper cover “Another Day” and Gabriel’s “Here Comes The Flood” on the Christmas TV special Kate. The song appears to have been abandoned by the time the pair worked together on Gabriel’s 1980 album Peter Gabriel (Melt).

50. The cover art for the 2005 single “King Of The Mountain” was drawn by Bush’s then-six-year-old son, Bertie.

51. Built around a science fiction storyline, Kate’s video for 1986 single “Experiment XI” features stars including Gary Oldman, Dawn French and Hugh Laurie. 

52. Dead musicians referenced in Kate’s songs include Bing Crosby (“December Will Be Magic Again”) and Sid Vicious, Buddy Holly and Keith Moon (“Blow Away (For Bill)”).

53. The lion’s head pictured on the cover of Kate’s second album Lionheart was located by photographer Gered Mankowitz in a Hammersmith fancy dress shop.

54. Never For Ever was the first album by a British female solo artist to top the UK album chart.

55. “Zinzkaro”, a Georgian folk song Kate heard in the 1979 Werner Herzog film Nosferatu The Vampyre, was later adapted for the Hounds Of Love song “Hello Earth”. 

56. The only new song aired during Kate’s 2014 Before The Dawn performances was “Never Be Mine”. To date it has only been released in its live format on Kate’s Before The Dawn 3CD and 4LP set. 

57. Kate’s cats over the years have included Pyewacket, Zoodle, Rocket, Sparky and Torchy. 

58. In her earliest corporate deal, Kate became the face of Seiko watches in Japan in the late ‘70s, appearing in a 1978 television commercial and also modelling their latest designs for magazine ads.  

59. Speaking about the cover art of Never For Ever in 1980, Kate told Sounds magazine that the creatures emerging from her skirt were all about the rampant ideas emerging from her: “It’s to hint that so much of it comes from a sexual need, from inside me, though it could also be from my stomach, my side... excretions. We had to be careful with the title because of all that, there was my skirt blowing about, but there couldn’t be anything about ‘wind’ in it or that would make the whole album one big fart.”

60. The Ninth Wave, the conceptual B-side to the Hounds Of Love LP, was a loose reference to Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem The Holy Grail: “Wave after wave, each mightier than the last, 'Til last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep…”


61. Kate Bush turns 60 on 30 July, the same day Wuthering Heights author Emily Bronte would have turned 200. Happy birthday, Kate!

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