Rock Hall Special: Kate Bush Runs Into Rock Hall

Kate Bush
Kate Bush performs on stage on ‘The Tour of Life’, Carre, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 29th April 1979. (Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns)

Kate Bush’s career is surrounded by mystique. At only 19 years old, in 1978, she released The Kick Inside, which included the history-making track “Wuthering Heights,” which became the first self-written single by a female British artist to reach No. 1 in the UK. That was followed during the same year by another album, Lionheart, and an invitation from Fleetwood Mac to open for them on tour.

Instead, Bush set out on “The Tour of Life” – her first, and only, tour – in European theaters in 1979. For six weeks running through April and May, Bush changed the history of touring for all artists.

Filled with magic tricks, poetry readings and costume changes, she set a new standard with the introduction of the wireless microphone in order to allow for more complex choreography. Her sound engineer, Gordon Paterson, created the headset in order to fulfill Bush’s desire to dance and sing. The invention was quickly adopted by Madonna, Janet Jackson and countless others and is now a standard part of many touring artists’ rigs. The trek, which incorporated songs from her first two studio albums, also marked one of the first times pyrotechnics made their way onto the stage.

Although Bush released nine albums, including her latest LP, 2011’s 50 Words for Snow, she largely shied away from performing. Occasionally, Bush performed at charity events or as favors for friends, the last of which took place in 2002 when she duetted on “Comfortably Numb” alongside Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.

However, in 2014, fans saw her for the first time in more than a decade with her residency, “Before the Dawn,” at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Her return to the stage, marking her first series of live performances since “The Tour of Life,” consisted of 22 dates and inspired Adele’s comeback album, 25.

Her legacy continues for music fans worldwide. After “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” became a key plot device in “Stranger Things,” it shot to No. 1 on the UK singles chart in 2023, besting its former 1985 peak of No. 3.

The song earned Bush her second No. 1 in the UK, and broke three chart records.
The single also managed to become her first Top 10 track in the United States, peaking at No. 3.

“I anticipated a huge amount of renewed interest in the song, however I was certainly not prepared for the type of resurgence explosion that took place,” Nora Felder, CEO and Music Supervisor at Picture Music Company, who selected Bush’s song for “Stranger Things” told Pollstar. “This was a lightning in a bottle moment in music history.”

On being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bush told The Guardian earlier this year, “It’s something I just never thought would happen. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. It means a great deal that you would think of me.