The Death of Kate Bush’s Lighting Director in 1979 Was ‘Terrible’ for the ‘Running Up That Hill’ Singer

Kate Bush was one of the biggest alt-pop stars of the ’70s and ’80s. The English musician created hits like “Wuthering Heights,” “Cloudbusting,” and “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God).” Netflix’s Stranger Things famous used the latter tune in Season 4.

However, Bush largely stopped touring, with a 35-year period where she didn’t perform live at all. So, what was the reason behind her reclusion? 

Kate Bush’s elaborate Tour of Life in 1979

Singer Kate Bush performs live onstage for her Tour Of Life tour
Kate Bush performs onstage for the 1979 Tour Of Life tour | Jorgen Angel/Redferns

At the height of her popularity, Bush gave her last live performance of the millennium on May 14, 1979. This was the last date on her Tour of Life tour. After it was over, Bush did not tour again until 2014. 

The Tour of Life was a lavish production that included multiple costume changes, poetry readings, magicians, and intricate lighting and backdrops. It also utilized a headset microphone, which was still a fairly new technology at the time. 

“I saw our show as not just people on stage playing the music, but as a complete experience,” Bush said of the Tour of Life, according to Prog. “A lot of people would say ‘Pooah!’ but for me that’s what it was. Like a play.”

It’s unknown why Bush put an end to her days of live performances. But a few theories are floating around. Some chalk it up to her fear of flying. However, others point to a more tragic reason. 

Did a tragic death put an end to Kate Bush’s touring days?

On April 2, 1979, tour lighting director Bill Duffield was overseeing the packing up of equipment after a Dorset performance. While checking the stage one last time to ensure nothing was left behind, Duffield fell 17 feet through an open panel in the flooring onto the concrete below. He was rushed to the hospital but tragically died a week later. 

This accident took place after the very first date of the Tour of Life. Some wonder if Duffield’s death cast a pall over Bush’s touring experience. The singer went on to perform a memorial concert for Duffield. She also dedicated two songs to him: “Blow Away (For Bill)” and “Moments of Pleasure.”

Some think the tragic death of Duffield is why Bush chose never to tour again. But the artist has addressed her decision to stay off the road. 

Kate Bush has cited exhaustion, stage fright, and commitment to family as reasons to stop touring

In a 2011 interview with Mojo Magazine, Bush revealed that touring took a heavy physical toll on her, leaving her exhausted. “It was enormously enjoyable. But physically it was absolutely exhausting,” Bushesh explained.

There also might have been some stage fright involved. Bush told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, “I do have the odd dream where I’m on stage and I’ve completely forgotten what I’m meant to be performing — so they are more nightmares than dreams.”

Bush has also spoken about her commitment to family life. She is married to guitarist Danny McIntosh. The couple share a son, Albert, 26. 

“At the moment my family life is incredibly important to me and it comes first,” she shared. “Then my work fits in around it which is quite easy to do with the recording process but something like doing shows would be incredibly disruptive and I just can’t see that would be something that would work at this stage.”

Bush launched a small comeback tour in 2014. However, it seems like the popstar is content to simply release music without performing it.

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