Stranger Things helps BBC screen Kate Bush Night
Saturday: Kate Bush Night - (BBC Two, from 7pm)
She’s spent time out on the wily, windy moors, met a man with the child in his eyes and cavorted with the hounds of love.
But one thing Kate Bush has never been is conventional – and thank goodness for that.
At the age of 16, a friend of her family handed a demo tape of her songs to Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, who instantly recognised her talent and helped her re-record it in a more professional manner, resulting in Bush being signed by EMI. But rather than rushing her into the limelight, she was allowed to develop her talent.
Bush spent the next two years learning dance with David Bowie’s former mentor Lindsay Kemp, and mime with Adam Darius, as well as honing her performance skills by fronting a band that played in pubs across London.
In August 1977, Bush returned to the studio to record The Kick Inside, her first album. It contained her debut single, Wuthering Heights, inspired by a TV adaptation of Emily Bronte’s novel. When it reached No 1 in 1978, it made her the first British woman to top the charts with a self-written song.
More albums and hits followed, including The Man With the Child In His Eyes, Wow and Babooshka; she also took part in her first live tour.
She insisted on overseeing her own career, knowing instinctively what worked and what she wanted to do. Always an innovator, she also pioneered the use of radio microphones so she could dance on stage.
Since the mid-1980s, Bush has recorded only sporadically. The albums Hounds of Love, The Sensual World and The Red Shoes, as well as the greatest hits anthology The Whole Story, were followed by a long hiatus – she returned to the studio in 2005 to record Aerial; six years later she reworked 11 existing tracks for the album Director’s Cut, which was quickly followed by 50 Words for Snow.
Then it all went quiet, until Bush made the biggest announcement of all – her decision to perform a 22-night residency at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2014. Tickets were snapped up in seconds, some by fans who weren’t even born when she first arrived on the music scene. The result was a magical mix of music, performance and theatre.
She then removed herself from the limelight once again, but returned in spectacular fashion when her song Running Up That Hill was used in Netflix smash Stranger Things, reintroducing her to a new generation of fans, and reminding older ones how amazing she is.
The single has been an even bigger success second time around, something Bush told the BBC was “just extraordinary. The whole world’s gone mad!”
Now the broadcaster is paying tribute to her talent by dedicating an evening of its BBC Two schedule to her. It begins with her popping up in Top of the Pops 1978: Big Hits, but really gets going at 8pm with more archive performances in Kate Bush at the BBC.
The documentary The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill follows at 9pm, with her TV special Kate Bush at the BBC 1979 an hour later.
Expect to relive some extraordinary moments courtesy of an extraordinary woman – here’s hoping there won’t be another long hiatus before she’s back recording and performing again.