Cloudbusting -- Kate
Bush In Her Own Words
Early Life 1958-1968
July 30,1958 - kate bush is born to robert john bush and hannah
bush. She has two brothers, john carter bush (jay), b. 1944, and paddy bush, b.
Do you come from a particularly artistic family?
- Well, my mother's a dancer, she won a lot of prizes cleaning the
floor with the opposition, and my father's a musician. (1981, Dreaming - Hannah)
- I was born in a nursing home in Erith, Kent, while my parents were
living where they are now, in Welling. The date was July 30th, 1958. (1979,
wondered what your middle name was?
- I haven't got one actually. I've got a confirmation name but that's
not really an official name and that's Mary. (1979, Personal Call)
- I don't know if it was a dream or not, but I remember somebody
looking over into my cot going something like ``googgy wooogy woogy wooo'' I
might have been one, maybe two years old.
- My father was a doctor and my mother a nurse. Now she works on the
phone for my father, taking calls. (1982, Flexipop)
You're very close to the family - you're a very close-knit family?
Are your family supportive so
far as your music is concerned?
- I think they're supportive of me in every area possible. I think I
am most definitely a strongly emotionally-based person, and my family are
totally integral, I think, to everything I do. They affect me because I love
Do you need that support? Is that essential?
- I think it is essential. I think it's something that has always been
there, and that if it wasn't there it would probably be devastating for me,
yes. (1985, Homeground)
- I think we are an exceptionally close family. Without my family I
wouldn't be where I am today. (????,AVD)
- While we're all aware of looking after each other, we're all very
much individuals. We can work as a unit - a very strong unit - but I don't find
it inhibiting or over-protective. (????,SH)
- My mother, to whom I have always been very close also, was a muse.
But my eye was almost always on what my father was up to. Don't you think that,
as a child, your aspirations are into the world?
- You take the whole domestic situation, including your mother, for
granted. Little did I know it was mum who was holding it all together. (1989,
- I joined in all my brother's games when I was younger and they'd
always end up tying me to a tree or something! (???,TWS)
- I remember my first day at school and somebody calling ``Bye bye,
Catherine'' to me. And I turned and said ``Bye bye,'' only the person wasn't
talking to me, but to another girl called Catherine. It seemed a bit odd.
- I found the idea of school rather exciting. I liked the idea of
wearing a uniform. It was a convent school, so the teachers were nuns.
- I missed school for about six months because I went to Australia
with my parents. I was only five or six. I met a kangaroo, and that was really
beautiful. And my brother met an emu. He walked straight into it. The emu
- My strongest memories were of the seatrip to Australia - I was
seasick on the way out and had measles on the way back. (1982, The Garden)
- Well, I think the first pop thing I ever heard which I really liked
was ``Little Red Rooster'' [By the rolling stones]. I heard it in a car
coming back from the shops and I thought it was fascinating. It was the first
song I'd ever heard where the singer was actually singing out of tune. I don't
mean that derogatorily. What I mean, I suppose, is that the record sounded so
unconventional, and I just hadn't experienced anyone singing like
The stones had that record out around 1964, was this when you were
about six years old? Yes, around that time, I suppose. It was really a
fantastic sound - the fact that someone wasn't singing quite in
tune and, because of that, was getting a very different
emotion out of it. But I suppose,
really, I first became aware of pop music around the late 1960s. I was hearing
that sort of music through my two brothers and thinking just how good it was.
But for the fact that my brothers were playing those records, I probably
wouldn't have heard them, as my friends in school wouldn't have been listening
to things like that! I think that was the earliest pop music that I really felt
Paddy bush: But you see
now, that's an interesting thing, because we weren't really involved in the pop
thing at all at that time. Jay [John carder bush] and I were very much
involved in the english folk revival, we had an incredibly staunch approach
towards traditional folk music. (1985, keyboard)
I'm wondering who it was that introduced pop music into your
- Who it was? I suppose it was probably the radio, as it is with most
people. I think, as I got older, it was much more me getting into my own music.
Obviously when you're very young you're listening to the music that is supplied
to you. And I think the radio was probably my main influence getting into new
music. And also a large selection of forty-fives that my brothers had, that I
used to plow through on wet rainy afternoons and find these records that I'd
never heard before, people that I'd never heard before. And also it was good
because it meant I could catch up on years that I'd not been around in... which
is very useful indeed! (1980, BBC)
When you say you were brought up on it [Traditional english-
irish music], you mean within the family?
- Within the family, yes,
obviously there wasn't live music happening so much, but records. And so that's
all you need as a kid, I think if your environment is there. That's what
happened for me: it was such a natural thing that it seemed wrong
not to be singing or playing music. Which is very good, I think,
especially for children, because it's so good for the imagination. (1980,
- I was
brought up in Kent. A very sort of normal upbringing. I think the music, again,
that I was hearing at a very early age influenced me tremendously because
before I was going to school, before I was reading, I was singing along to
songs, to traditional music. And in a way I think that got my soul before the
education even got near me. And I think really when you are that young, in a
way I think the sparks of what you really want to do are there somewhere.
(1981, Friday Night And Saturday
mentioned early that your family were musical, you know, your mother sort of
enjoyed music and so on. Was it just because of that background that you wanted
to write or was it a love of poetry or reading or what?
- I think it was a big combination of everything. Cause my mother is
a... well when she was in Ireland she used to dance all the time so there's
definitely that spirit in her. And I think all of us have, in the family, have
tended to go towards the musical direction, which is very interesting. I'm sure
it comes from her and perhaps my father as well 'cause he used to play the
piano alot, so maybe it's the combination.
You're father's a doctor, though, isn't he?
- Yeah, that's right, yes.
...Is still a doctor?
- Yes he is, yes.
But at home, I mean, did you have a lot of these musical sessions
and is that partly what set the theme for you?
- Well, when I was about six, seven, that sort of age, my two brothers
were getting into folk music alot and they were going 'round to folk clubs. And
they'd often have evenings every week where a load of there friends would come
'round and in a way it's quite parallel to the sort of evenings that would have
happened in Ireland...
- That's right! Where they just play music all night, and they'd be
playing folk songs. And as I got a bit older I started to join in and learn
folk songs, I mean they were the first songs I really learned - sea shanties,
that sort of thing.
Do you remember any of those songs?
- Um, vaguely, yeah. I mean, some of them I still love to listen to
because the stories are always so interesting, they're beautiful, lovely
lyrics. And the tunes are always very pretty as well. (1982, Dreaming debut)
Paddy: Here's a good one. It says do we have any special memories
of early performances in folk clubs or of the kt bush band - it must have been
1977. And what songs were sung, standards or kate's own?
Jay: Traditional. I mean I don't think... I mean kate's never
preformed in folk clubs. She certainly used to sing along with various folk
bands that we had. Then she was very small so she couldn't have preformed
anyway. And most of the songs she learned were victorian sea shanties which
were pretty dirty songs. [Laughter] so I suppose, in a sense that is
where it started. [Laugher.] [??? Walking up here] and sing a
dirty song. She's not worked in any traditional folk [??? Styles] it's
really just what she listened to as a child. (1985, kate bush con. Paddy and jay
- When I was very little, my brothers were into traditional folk
music, and my father used to play and compose on the piano and I think that
this was a very strong influence on me. I was very little and there was always
music in the house, so it didn't seem unnatural to start playing the piano or
playing around on the instruments that were in the house. (????,SH)
- I was brought up on traditional folk music, mostly Irish stuff, and
that must be the biggest influence on me I suppose, because I grew up with it.
Bert Lloyd is the man as far as I'm concerned. (????,AVD)
On her household. Music was an obsession. (????,avd) *
- I've always been into music. I was a child then and I think all
children embrace music. (1984, Pulse!)
Was it [Fame] something that you wanted?
- No...I don't think so. I mean as a child, the idea of being a star
was attractive, as I think it is to every child. They love things that are
larger than life, and dreams and fantasies, and most children never grow out of
it to the day they die. But I think I didn't ever consider the idea of actually
being a famous so-called songwriter-singer. I think that as a very young child,
perhaps I aspired to becoming something like a great actress. I think I was
very enamoured by people like Judy Garland. I thought she was incredible, so
beautiful. But no, I never ever thought this. But I did hope that I would have
involvement with music and that one day I might be able to sing and write
songs. (1985, Homeground)
- There were two very important things in my childhood that shaped my
attitudes subsequently. One: my father had a piano in the house, and without
that I'd never have got round to playing music. And two: my brothers were very
into traditional music.
- When I was very little, I was quite extravert. (1982, The Garden)
- My father has told me I used to dance to the music on the telly. I
remember it vaguely. It was completely unselfconscious and I wasn't aware of
people looking at me. One day some people came into the room, saw me and
laughed and from that moment on I stopped doing it. I think maybe I've been
trying to get back there ever since. (????, SH)
- Inhibitions start coming in as you get older. (1982, The Garden)
- When I was little my mother fainted for no apparent reason. My
father was there and put her on the bed, but he couldn't feel any pulse so he
started doing artificial respiration and so on to try to revive her. Meanwhile,
according to my mum, she'd taken off like a balloon and hit the ceiling. She
was looking down from there at my father pushing her body about and she was
calling out ``Leave me alone, I'm all right!"
- Then I walked in asking ``Where's my mum?'' and when she saw me she
dropped down into her body, she says, anyway she did come back to life.
- Everyone's aware of the physical changes that happen as you get
older, but I was more aware of the mental ones. I found it very frustrating
being treated like a child when I wasn't thinking like a child. I felt I was
being patronised, right through until I was eighteen or nineteen. From the age
of ten I felt old.
- I became very shy at school. It laid some very heavy inhibitions on
me. I wasn't exactly bullied, but there were people who picked on me and gave
me a very hard time. I was very thin, and younger than most in my class, so I
was rather like the runt of the litter. I'd get hit occasionally, but nothing
that heavy. And I never fought back.
- I was aware of a lot of my friends being into things that I wasn't
into. Like sarcasm. It had never been a part of my family - they still don't
use sarcasm. I don't actually think it's nice. I think sarcasm is a very cheap
and negative way of trying to get laughs and make yourself superior.
- It was a very cruel environment, and I was a loner. But I learnt to
get hurt, and I learnt to cope with it.
- My friends used to play this game whereby they'd send you to
Coventry. My friends sometimes used to ignore me completely, and that would
really upset me badly. I still tend to be vulnerable, but I'm much better at
fighting back if people are nasty to me today.
- I felt weak a lot of the time, but I think I was much stronger than
- The school was obviously quite religious in nature, being a convent
school. I started getting concepts on God very early on. I remember saying to
my father that maybe God was a circle, because I'd been told that he never
began and he never finished. To me that was a circle. A lot of Catholicism is
still in me deeper than I can see. But I don't follow that religion at all.
- I wasn't an easy, happy-go-lucky girl, because I used to think about
everything so much, and I think I probably still do. I was writing songs from
the age of ten - and I was never really into going to discos and dances and
stuff. Obviously, I used to like to go and meet boys, but I mainly just liked
playing with the piano. I never told anyone at school that I did that, because
I feared it would alienate me even more.
- I was too shy to be a hooligan, but inside I had many hooligan
instincts. But I never even gave any lip to the teachers. And in return, none
of them picked on me.
- I first started getting interested in boys at the age of eleven. My
first boyfriend was called John, and he lived just round the corner.
- It was great. I really liked boys. I always will like boys. I was
popular with them. And my level of involvement wasn't just a sexual one,
whereas for a lot of girls it was.
- I used to get the most terrible crushes on boys, always much older
than me. And it was terrible. I used to think they were so beautiful. But I'd
never get anywhere with them. Just the old fantasy trip of getting off on
someone, was what it was about.
- My life as a teenager was interesting and difficult. And it was
important, because it stirred up all sorts of things in me. But I was very
lonely. And even after I left school, there were times when the loneliness
became desperate. (1982, The
- But reading was once a very big passion. When I was about eight or
nine, for about three years I got through dozens and dozens of
books and was very much into reading,
mostly fiction. But as soon as I began writing poems at school - basically, as
soon as I started getting into writing songs - everything else seemed to go out
the window. I'd sit down and read a book, and think how I could be writing a
song rather than reading. (1985, Musician)
write a lot of poetry when you were young?
- When I was at school, yeah that was my thing. And then I got into
songs so I forgot about that then. It was much more exciting. (1979, Personal Call)
Cloudbusting / Story /