Follow us on a journey as we hit the streets of Bexley, Mottingham, Sidcup in search of the early years of Kate Bush.
Singer, songwriter, performer, dancer and record producer; no matter how old you were or where you were when you first heard a Kate Bush Track, you never forget that vocal tone.
Timeless, unique and quintessential a phenomena born out from the mid 1970’s. Those vocal talents, delivering that high vocal range with a stunning ability to change key several times. The first female artist to achieve 8 albums in the UK charts, and a number one.
“Kate Bush is of an Enigma and that there had not been ‘another Kate Bush since”Elton John
Dance skills of a Mime Artist – Lindsay Kemp
Kate Bush enigmatic dance choreography, mixing dance, mime, theatrical performance has been the source of inspiration for many other artists. She took lessons from Lindsay Kemp, one of the best known and well regarded mime choreographers in the business. Lindsey Kemp was the teacher behind David Bowie, and when you think of their flamboyant styles, you can see their is commonality of teachings and learnings.
For her work, Bush received awards for, Best British Female Artist, 1987, a Ivor Novello award, Nominated for Grammy Awards and awarded a CBE 2013. Not bad for a quiet shy pupil.
Kate Bush CD’s and Box Sets – Tops Picks to Buy
The legendary Kate Bush releasing a compilation of some of her most iconic early work including her chart topping debut album ‘The Kick Inside’ which contains one of her biggest hits ‘Wuthering Heights’.
The beginning of the Kate Bush story
Catherine Bush was born in Bexleyheath Maternity hospital. Growing up in South East London, East Wickham Farm around Wickham St Welling. Kate attended St Joseph’s Convent Grammar School in Sidcup.
When she was a teenager she moved to live in the middle flat on Wickham Road, SE4 1NZ, her brothers occupied the other two flats. The area of Mottingham was to be home for decades to come. Though it has to be said the self titled house Wuthering Heights is a quite spectacular place.
Journey Start at St Johns railway station
St Johns Rail station has some character from the bridge, a functional station with a clear view on keeping costs low in its construction. If you are to explore Kate Bush’s London this is a good starting point. It is a short walk to Lewisham College on the A20 Lewisham way, on to 44 Wickham Road. It should take around 13 minutes.
44 Wickham Road
Legend has it that 44 Wickham road is where Kate wrote her first number one over a few hours of creativity.
Just walking around those streets in the here and now behind Lewisham College. If you go up Breakspears Road turn off at Ashby Road, you will come to Wickham Road.
The expanse and size of the properties and the mixture of architecture, old trees, gives you the sense that many of these older properties were there when these Kate Bush vocals were rising and expanding, it somehow fits.
Preservation of Victorian and Edwardian houses in South East London, Gillian Heywood MBE created The Brockley Society in 1970 by to stop the demolition of Victorian and Edwardian houses around the streets of Brockley. The fashion had changed brutalist designs.
Signing with EMI
In 1976 Kate Bush signed to EMI by Terry Slater, her demo tapes had been that good, but EMI had not seen her perform, and thought she needed some finishing touches. David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, through a family friend, had helped Kate in the years before, to prepare a demo tape that was industry worthy. EMI suggested, that Kate gained more live experience. She formed with people she knew, Brian Bath, guitarist, Vic King, drummer, and Del Palmer, a bass player the KT Bush Band.
Kate Bush and the early London Gigs
Kate and her band started to gig, playing in local venues/pubs. Her first solo gig March 1977 was In the Rose of Lee now called the Dirty South in Lewisham, see photo below.
Once back on the Lewisham way road, outside Lewisham College, there is a bus stop on the opposite side of the road, the 321 bus goes all the way to The Dirty South Venue on Lee High road just past the Lidl shop all on the right-hand side of the road.
Brian Southall saw Kate perform was impressed and could see the theatrical elements to her performance as being different. Accounts of these gigs give the impression this was not really Kate’s thing and because of the theatrical costume or a different presentation to the hard attitude of punk or mainly male acts of the time, she would be mistaken for some kind of stripper act!
Kate Bush London Venues in the early days that you can see today
- Rose of Lee now called “The Dirty South” on Lee High road. March 1977
- The Black Cat in Catford
- The Duke of Richmond, Earls Court,
- The White Hart, Tottenham
- The Target, Northolt
- Tiffany’s Harlow
- The Railway Hotel Putney
- The Trafalgar, Kings Road, Chelsea
- The Half Moon, Putney
- The Great Northern Hotel Kings Cross
EMI listened to her showcase at the White Elephant in Mayfair. Decided she was ready to start on studio work, August 1977 work started on the Album “The Kick Inside” This was released in 1978 when Kate was 19 but some songs she had written when she was 13.
The Kate Bush Discography
Kate Bush in The 1970’s
Wuthering Heights: Long red bohemian type dress with ragged hemlines.
The Man with the Child in His Eyes:
Soft focus blur camera effect on Kate as she sits knees performs in what seems like a skin tone bikini catsuit that blends into the soft background.
Black stretch catsuit with a long evening black gown over the top with long leg slit. Crimped type looking hair vintage black small French type looking hat with a red rose. Contemporary dancing with a black-masked male.
Kate in a range of leotard and tights and legging dance fitness wear and on-stage costumes revolving around in time with the music.
Kate Bush in 1980
Soft focus Kate wrapped in a plastic clear wrap, cellophane inside some kind of clear bubble
Costume-wise, Interesting lycra black catsuit with black veil this turned into a futuristic cave girl type warrior bikini costume reminding one of tomb raider leg knife straps.
Kate close up of her feminine makeup but dressed in a green soldier outfit in the forest with other male dancers dressed in the same camouflage soldier outfits.
Sat in Your Lap:
White satin ballet type skinny strapped bodice to a white netting tulle skirt like a tutu, like a wedding gown but short. Kneeling with pink leg warmers on her arms. Performing arm movements and then switching to white trouser outfit with a flowing cape and pointed white had that has a D on and white roller skates.
A fitted boiler suit pale cream with futuristic tubes entwined in the design, with other dancers with tribal face paint and moves.
There Goes a Tenner:
Kate in a black boiler suit like a robber outfit. Feminine make up with a few face dirt marks.
Suspended in Gaffa:
Grey type padded boiler suit that looks like a straight jacket in a dusty environment of a sell
Running Up That Hill:
Costume Kate Bush performing a contemporary Ballet type routine with a male both dressed in grey flowing clothes.
Hounds of Love:
Kate wears 40s style tweed looking skirt suit with a soft patterned jumper, men dressed in overcoats and 40s style hats.
The Big Sky:
Kate wears a metallic Silver boiler suit overalls, lace-up heeled boots, with a range of hats pilot, fireman, nelsons type
The Sensual World:
Kate wearing a long dark burgundy looking medieval dress with a medieval style pillbox hat that had a veil that trailed behind and under the chin in a contrasting soft pastel mauve lilac looking colour, she dances through a forest.
Kate Bush in 1990
Moments of Pleasure:
Stunning strapless gown black fitted, boned type bodice with black glistening feathers, one long satin red glove, red skirt section, revolving round in a windy snowstorm.
Eat the Music:
Long flowing dress long sleeves fitted fabric is white pale with fruit patterned fabric, pointe red ballet shoes
Kate Bush in 2000’s
And Dream of Sheep.
Kate Bush Album Discography
- The Kick Inside 17/2/78
- Lionheart 13/11/78
- Never For Ever 8/9/80
- The Dreaming 13/9/82
- Hounds of Love
- The Whole Story Compilation Album 10/11/86
- The Sensual World 17/10/89
- The Red Shoes 2/11/93
- Aerial 7/11/2005
- Director’s Cut 16/5/2011
- 50 words for Snow 21/11/2011
- Before the Dawn 25/11/2016