Kate Bush and Prince started their music careers around the same time. They wrote their own songs and often produced themselves. The two songwriters were adept at forming their personas and were recluses in their respective ways. Bush is the fairy-like creature who wails at the piano in a castle on a remote hill. Prince was the funky chameleon who holed himself in the studio of his purple palace, Paisley Park. While that might seem like the end of their similarities, it’s not.
They share two songs.
Kate Bush met Prince at one of his shows in London in 1990
Bush was teetering on the brink of another break from music following the death of a friend and the end of a relationship when she met Prince. His Royal Badness had just retracted his Black Album “because he was convinced it was an evil, omnipotent force,” wrote Vice.
“In essence, the two artists’ headspaces could not really have been in more opposite places; Prince, artistically baptised and ready to change the world, and Kate Bush, surrounded by a fog of melancholia and disarray.”
Yet, the pair were fans of each other’s work. In 1995, Prince’s then-engineer Michael Koppelman and Bush’s then-engineer Del Palmer exchanged emails in which Koppelman said Prince described Bush as his “favorite woman.”
Then, in 1990, Bush attended one of Prince’s Wembley Arena shows on his Nude Tour. She asked to meet him backstage. There, they discussed a collaboration.
Bush sent Prince a song called ‘Why Should I Love You?’ but he put a little too much of his magic into it
In 1993, Palmer told Future Music (per Super Deluxe Edition) about Bush’s collaboration with Prince. He explained that the pair could not work together in person, so Bush sent Prince her demo of “Why Should I Love You?” What they got back was a song covered in vocals, guitar solos, and keyboards.
“The problem then was to put the track back together into something resembling its original form while retaining the best of what Prince had done. He hadn’t added one of the vocal parts which would have been particularly good for him [‘The fine purple, the purest gold…’], so it basically took two years to put it back together.
“What’s left is his lead guitar, some digital synths and some chorus vocals. Then Lenny Henry came in to do a vocal on the end.”
Koppelman confirmed that Bush “sort of split the difference with what he [Prince] sent and what’s on the record.” On his blog (per Super Deluxe Edition), Koppelman said Bush’s original demo is “1 million times better than the lame disco Prince put on it.” He explained that after Prince first heard the demo, “the brutality began.”
“Prince told me, Kate Bush liked what we did. She said it sounded very American… I wasn’t sure if she was even going to use it.”
However, Bush did use the song. “Why Should I Love You?” appears on 1993’s The Red Shoes. Later, Bush told Fader that she enjoyed working with Prince, even though he sent her a completely different song back.
“We kind of became friends for a while,” she said. “I didn’t know him very well, but [he was] so full of fun and a really sweet person, as well as really exquisite musicianship. Prince was a really unique artist and was so good at so many different things.
“When we actually worked it was done at quite a distance. I wrote the song, and then he worked on that and then we discussed where to take it from there.”
Fader asked if Prince had suggested anything to her that she might not have considered otherwise. “It was more the work he put on top of the track that I had sent him,” she said. “He changed the original feeling of the song.
“But then when you collaborate with someone, that is sometimes what can happen, and it’s really a matter of whether you want the song to go there or not. I don’t know, it’s very difficult to talk about music, you know? It’s one of those things that you feel.”
Apparently, the pair liked collaborating because Bush later sang backing vocals on Prince’s “My Computer” from 1996’s Emancipation.
The ‘Cloudbusting’ singer paid tribute to His Royal Badness following his death in 2016
In April 2016, Prince died of an accidental overdose. Bush, who also lost one of her idols, David Bowie, that January, released a tribute to her two-time collaborator.
“I am so sad and shocked to hear the tragic news about Prince,” she wrote on her website (per NME). “He was the most incredibly talented artist. A man in complete control of his work from writer and musician to producer and director. He was such an inspiration.
“Playful and mind-blowingly gifted. He was the most inventive and extraordinary live act I’ve seen. The world has lost someone truly magical. Goodnight dear Prince.”
Later, Bush told BBC 6 Music’s Matt Everitt (per NME) that she thought Prince was “so prolific, he used to make me laugh because whilst I was working on an album, he would have done two world tours, a couple of albums a film…”
Unfortunately, Bush added there’s no unreleased music between the pair.