Why Kate Bush rejected Fleetwood Mac in 1978

kate bush

In 1977, Fleetwood Mac unveiled their eleventh album, the legendary Rumours. This record, featuring hits like ‘Dreams,’ ‘The Chain,’ and ‘Go Your Own Way,’ emerged during a turbulent period for the band. While crafting it, band members grappled with relationship turmoil and substance abuse, which greatly influenced the album’s content.

Rumors would ultimately become the band’s masterpiece, an iconic breakup album, and one of music history’s most revered and successful records. Its triumph was further propelled by an extensive tour bearing the same name, encompassing 96 shows across Europe, the UK, Japan, Oceania, and North America.

Their American tour was particularly ambitious, spanning over 80 dates across three legs. The initial leg, the shortest, kicked off in early 1977, taking Fleetwood Mac from New York to Kansas. The second leg was longer, stretching through the summer, with the band performing from Miami to Vancouver. Following a break to record their follow-up album, Tusk, Fleetwood Mac resumed touring the US the subsequent summer. This final leg was dubbed ‘The Penguin Summer Country Safari.’

When Fleetwood Mac planned their tour, they approached English art pop artist Kate Bush, hoping to secure her as their opening act. Surprisingly, Bush declined the offer. Fleetwood Mac, one of the world’s most successful bands, operated in similar music scenes as Bush. They were offering one of the most prestigious support slots in the industry. So, why did Bush turn them down?

In the late 1970s, Bush was early in her career but already gaining recognition and success. She signed with EMI Records and was preparing her debut album, The Kick Inside, for release. In 1978, ‘Wuthering Heights,’ written when Bush was just 18, became her debut single and the first by a female artist to top the UK charts.

While planning her music debut, Bush was also preparing for her own tour, ‘The Tour of Life.’ This tour spanned 24 dates across the UK and Europe in the spring of 1979. Bush went all out for her live show, featuring dancers, mime, magic, projections, costume changes, and readings. With her elaborate stage production already in motion, Bush couldn’t accommodate a half-hour support slot with Fleetwood Mac. She had grand ambitions that went beyond such a limited stage opportunity.

‘The Tour of Life’ was a massive success, with most dates selling out and additional shows added due to high demand. However, it marked Bush’s one and only concert tour. Speculation surrounds her decision never to tour again, with factors such as her aversion to travel, prioritization of family, and the tragic loss of her lighting director, Bill Duffield, during ‘The Tour of Life’ being suggested. Bush later paid tribute to Duffield with a song titled ‘Blow Away.’

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