THE KT BUSH BAND
History & origins of the 1977 outfit
The KT Bush Band was formed in 1977 by guitarist Brian Bath, drummer Vic King, bassist Del Palmer and Kate Bush on vocals and piano. Their set consisted of classic soul and rock covers, Brian’s original songs, and many of Kate’s songs before they were released on the EMI label. The band quickly gained a loyal and venue-filling following - playing gigs around well-known venues in London, performing songs like “James and the Cold Gun”, “Them Heavy People” and “Oh To Be in Love” long before they were released by songwriter Kate Bush on The Kick Inside.
Fast forward 40 years to 2017, Vic and Brian have taken The KT Bush Band back on the road: performing the music of Kate Bush, along with fascinating insights and anecdotes from the early days, and with some original KT Bush Band songs not heard since 1977!
Vic & Brian are joined by incredibly talented new members Jodie May on Vocals, Steve Bevan on Bass, and Emily Francis on Keys.
I had some regular musical friends – Paddy Bush, Vic and Del, and we played together often. One day shortly after a gig at Whitechapel Art Gallery, Paddy said that Kate was looking for some live experience and wanted to join a band, as she was about to record her first album with EMI. I said I would definitely endeavour to sort out a band.
My immediate reaction was to get the old TAME band from school back together. I rushed around to Del Palmer’s house, explaining that tons of gigs would come our way, that Kate was a great singer, had great looks and with her theatrical tendencies she could front a band for sure!
It seems Kate had also approached Vic at the Whitechapel gig, and with us all on board it wasn’t long before we had a rehearsal organised. So, we met up with Kate and she was more than eager to get the band out there. We immediately started work rehearsing a set of songs that would blow the socks off of any competition on the pub circuit. Kate needed a good vocal microphone so we all went with Pa Bush to the Fender Soundhouse in Manchester Square, and from the range available Kate chose the favourite professional mic of the time, a Shure Unidyne.
Rehearsals for the KT Bush Band began in earnest. After a first try in a room at the swimming baths, we cleared out and set up our equipment in the Barn over at Kate’s home, The Farm. It was midwinter and absolutely freezing.
I remember setting my amp up in the old disused fireplace. Maybe if I played loud enough it would warm us up! Things began well. Kate spoilt us all with gallons of tea and biscuits, and fun was had by all.
We needed a gig to try the band out on, so I went to the Rose of Lee pub one night, and got the guvnor interested in the band. I said we would guarantee 20 people in the first week, bodies up to the bar the second, down to the other end the third, and packed on the fourth! This is precisely what happened. What a gig it became – dry ice during “James and the Cold Gun” at the end of the evening where Kate went around with a pretend rifle, mock shooting at the audience!
As we were all working at the same time as performing, we juggled late nights, and early starts with exhausting schedules : Up at 7am, home at 5pm, off to gig, home at 2am, back to work – and around it went!
Brian and I have different memories of how it all started, both having been approached in different ways.
I remember Brian used to go round with his guitar to see Kate’s brother Paddy, they played music together at Kate’s house and Brian knew Kate had some great songs even though she was very young.
One Friday in November 1976, Brian and I played a 45min set at an Arts event at The Whitechapel Art Gallery, and it was there that Kate came up from the audience and said we were amazing and asked me how she could join a band. My response (as always when asked that) was if she could learn ten cover songs such as some Beatles, Motown and Soul and give me a call I would set up a rehearsal. It was about five days later when Kate got in touch and asked ‘When can we get together?’. I booked the basement studio of Greenwich swimming baths for our first of many rehearsals. Later we took over the ‘farm outbuilding’ and the rest is history.
Later of course, when Kate’s career as a solo artist took off, record company policy made it difficult for us to continue performing as we had, so we decided to dissolve the band and I went off and worked with many other bands. When Brian and Del joined forces to work with Kate on live shows a year or so later I was working with someone else so I didn’t get involved but we all kept in touch.
Brian and I both had our separate bands, but we continued to work together on and off, and Steve was often involved on Bass. The idea of playing the early Kate songs and covers again without the involvement of a record company kept nagging at me, and I suggested to Brian that we should get the band back together several times. In 1990, then again in 2001, and in 2012… but on each occasion there were doubts and difficulties but in 2014 the dream became a reality.
The KT Bush Band get together!
It was in early 2014 that Brian got excited about the idea – with a few pertinent questions. “Are you serious? Can we do it? Where will we find someone who can sing like Kate? Where are we going to find like-minded players who will want to do it?” He need not have worried, Steve jumped on board to play Bass when I mentioned that Brian was thinking seriously about it. So the three of us prepared six songs and finally booked into a studio in October 2014. It was amazing affirmation of our idea that Kate was finally back on stage around the same time.
Next step was to add a keyboard player. We asked around our known contacts, calling and emailing studios and checking music shops for musicians available, and using internet directories. I shortlisted 20 people before finally settling on Emily Francis, who is both highly capable and extremely versatile. With songs prepared, we ran through a trial set and she was in!
The hardest part was that out of 100 vocalists on my list, every one of them was missing some part of the essential mix; either the range, the style, or the approach. It was pure chance in the end that Steve mentioned our search in the local music shop and Jodie was recommended. We were soon back in the studio for another run through where Jodie proved that she could handle Kate’s songs with ease.
So, many months of hard work later, here we are. Warm-up performances done to invited audiences, and ready to bring back the exciting times of the early KT Bush Band.