It doesn’t matter where you start—it’s where you’re going that counts.
Kate Bush made her television debut in a disused train depot in West Germany, when she guested on the light entertainment show Bios Bahnhof (Bio’s Station) for WDR-TV, February 9th, 1978. In front of a well-heeled, middle-aged audience, Kate sang two songs: one with her backing band (“Kite”); and one to a backing track (“Wuthering Heights”)—the B and A-side of her debut single.
“Wuthering Heights” was a revolutionary debut and still sounds as radical today as it did when first released. But its success may never have happened had her record label E.M.I. stuck with their plan to release “James and the Cold Gun” as her first single from Kate’s album The Kick Inside.
“James and the Cold Gun” was one of the songs Kate performed when she was learning her craft as lead singer with her brother’s group the K.T. Bush Band during the summer of 1977. The K.T. Bush Band gigged around London, traveling in a small Hillman Imp, performing covers of the Beatles and the Stones and Marvin Gaye’s “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” They also tried out a few of Kate’s original compositions like “James and the Cold Gun” where she would mime a shoot-out with the audience.
Kate Bush fronts the K.T. Bush Band circa 1977.
The K.T. Bush Band perform a Beatles classic, 1977.
Kate was determined her first release should be “Wuthering Heights” and pushed the label until they conceded.
“Wuthering Heights” had been scheduled for release in November 1977, but E.M.I. held the single back until January 1978 fearing it would be lost in the festive froth of Christmas records—Paul McCartney made the top of the hit parade that year with “Mull of Kintyre,” which went on to become the biggest selling UK single at that time. Fortunately, a few promo discs of the single fell into the hands of some radio DJs, who were mesmerized by the song and played it prior to its official January release. It caught the public’s attention and “Wuthering Heights” rapidly moved to the UK #1 on 5th March 1978, the first number #1 to be written by a woman.
And what about Bio who spotted this exquisite talent before anyone else? Well, he is Alfred Biolek an entertainer and TV producer, who had previously produced two special German-language editions of Monty Python for German TV—for which John Cleese, Eric Idle and co. had to learn German phonetically as none of the Pythons spoke the language fluently. Bio certainly had an uncanny knack for picking up on original talent before anyone else.
The performance, after the jump…