The co-founder of a cult music magazine of the early 80s has stood by the authenticity of an article first published 35 years ago, in which Kate Bush, now revered worldwide as a singer and songwriter, recalled her days as a bullied schoolgirl “with hooligan instincts”.
The article, first published in Flexipop! in 1982, and now reproduced in a book of highlights of the magazine’s three-year lifespan, quotes Bush recalling the miseries of being a shy outsider at St Joseph’s Convent grammar school in Bexley, south-east London, bullied psychologically and occasionally physically.
The article had been reproduced on some fan sites over the last 30 years, with caveats about its authenticity given that Bush, who returned to live performance in 2014, 35 years after her last tour, is famously protective of her private life.
It quoted her saying: “I was too shy to be a hooligan but inside I had many hooligan instincts. I became very shy at school. There were people who picked on me and gave me a very hard time. It was a very cruel environment and I was a loner.
“My friends used to play this game whereby they’d ‘send you to Coventry’. My friends sometimes used to ignore me completely and that would really upset me badly. I still tend to be vulnerable, but I’m much better at fighting back if people are nasty to me today.
“I used to get the most terrible crushes on boys, always much older than me. And it was terrible. I used to think they were so beautiful. But I’d never get anywhere with them. Just the old fantasy trip of getting off on someone, was what it was about.
“My life as a teenager was interesting and difficult. And it was important, because it stirred up all sorts of things in me. But I was very lonely. And even after I left school, there were times when the loneliness became desperate.”
A spokesman for Bush said, when doubts about the authenticity of the piece resurfaced: “We have no further comment at this point.”
Barry Cain, a music writer and publisher, was a co-founder in 1980 of Flexipop! which often extracted far more startling revelations than Bush’s from a string of pop stars. He insisted the piece was genuine, written in the first person but based on an interview.
“All the artists featured in Testament Of Youth were interviewed at the time and the articles were all written in the first person. The piece in the book is a straight reproduction from the magazine and when it originally appeared there were no complaints whatsoever. In fact, we were even provided with a photo of Kate at her school. The Testament Of Youth series included highly personal interviews with the likes of Paul Weller, Simon Le Bon, Boy George, Kim Wilde, Siouxsie, Adam Ant etc.”
Cain said he had been racking his brain to remember who carried out the interview: “It could have been any one of a number of people who were around in the office. But there were no problems at all with it, and we even got the photograph from her record company of the time, EMI.
“The thing is people forget what they said 34 years ago – and then it comes back and bites them in the bum.”
The only change he made in reproducing the article for the book was to correct Bush’s birthday, which they originally got wrong - “fact checking wasn’t our strong point,” he said.
The book, complete with a new version of one of the magazine’s famous flexies, floppy plastic records that had to be weighed down with a coin to lie flat on the turntable, was first published 18 months ago, in a limited edition sold only through the website, which sold out. Reprinted a month ago, it is now selling across the world: Cain said he took orders on Tuesday from New Zealand and the United States.
The Kate Bush piece appeared four years after her first No 1 chart hit, Wuthering Heights. Her homemade demo tape was turned down by numerous record labels before EMI signed her, and she released her first album, The Kick Inside, in 1978, at the age of 19. She went on to win Brit, Grammy and Ivor Novello awards for her writing and performing, and was awarded a CBE in the 2013 New Year honours list.
Cain said he was surprised at the controversy over what he regarded as an innocuous piece compared with some of their other work.
Flexipop! was banned by WH Smith for three issues after a photoshoot with a rockabilly band in the grime of the old King’s Cross railway land used animal carcasses from an abattoir. Cain said he had to give an assurance that there would be no more scenes of “gratuitous violence and cannibalism” to get it back on the shelves.
- This article was first launched on 2 January 2016. It was updated and relaunched on 3 January 2016.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010