In the winter months of February 1978, Kate Bush – at the time a fresh-faced 19 year old with a hit single under her belt – made her first television appearance to perform the enigmatic hit single ‘Wuthering Heights’ on German TV show Bios Bahnhof.
The performance was a mark of not only the artist’s incredible talent but the huge journey she’d been on, even at 19, to get to where she was; effortlessly delivering a spellbinding performance of one of the most brilliant alternative pop songs ever written.
Her appearance on the show coincided with the show’s first ever episode. Filmed in Cologne, Germany at an old train depot, the show was hosted by classical music and opera fan Alfred Biolek. It was he who when he found himself on the lookout for acts at the EMI offices in London when Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ was played through the loudspeaker. He stopped in his tracks and enquired about the artist behind such a song. That artist was Kate Bush.
Bush had signed a four-year-deal with EMI in 1976 and was starting to build up quite a buzz with her prolific songwriting and stage performance. But Brian Southall, then EMI head of artist development, suggested it was a longer process than that. “It was a bit like signing a football prodigy and nurturing them through to the first team, we’d heard demos in the office, we knew she was a prolific songwriter, but we hadn’t seen her perform. So we suggested she gain some live experience.”
They gave her that experience by hooking her up with long-time David Bowie collaborator, and the man many people attribute to Bush’s impeccable stage performances of the time, mime artist Lindsay Kemp. Bush also needed a band sp recruited her brother and his friends to form the KT Bush band, playing their first gig in 1977 at the Rose of Lee pub in Lewisham (now The Dirty South). The following gigs at pubs would prepare Kate for the trials and tribulations of live crowd with many of the shows being performed at raucous spots for drunken sports fans with one particular gig at Tottenham Hotspur’s supporters’ club not being brilliant. “That was a bit strange,” says King of the band. “They thought Kate was the stripper, which didn’t go down very well.”
But this provided Bush with the ability to handle any situation and the young artists was starting to cement her style, her performance and her personality in the face of a changing nation. She set about recording her debut LP in August 1977 with a possible release date of the chosen single from the album ‘Wuthering Heights’ slated for November 4th 1977. But EMI got cold feet, fearing that it would be lost in the Christmas hub-ub and delayed the release until 20th January 1978.
But, as was the way in the seventies, by now the radio station like Capital Radio in London had the promo record and, against the will of EMI, they played it on air. They played it as much as they could. The people fell in love with Kate Bush and her single would go on to become the first record written and performed entirely by a woman to reach number 1 in the UK charts.
So with radio play under her belt, interviews with the biggest magazines in the industry on the way, Kate Bush made her way to Germany to appear on Bio’s Bahnhof to perform a and b sides of her now well-established single. ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Kite’ are performed to an incredibly gorgeous level.
Watch that performance below.
(Source: Open Culture)