Kate Bush didn’t attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday, but some of her biggest admirers celebrated her induction and her decades-long career: OutKast’s Big Boi, one of Bush’s most vocal (and unlikeliest) fans delivered her induction speech while St. Vincent performed the British singer’s resurgent hit “Running Up That Hill.”
Big Boi started his speech by sharing memories of first coming across Bush’s music. “I fell in love with Kate Bush when I was in middle school. My uncle Russell — my favorite uncle — turned me onto her and I listened to ‘Running Up That Hill’ every morning as I rode to school on my bike. I was that kid in Stranger Things,” he joked, referencing the Netflix series’ revival of the song. “Like I think they really took my interview and put it in Stranger Things. Since then I’ve been obsessed with her music and I’ve remained her biggest fans.”
He continued by praising the inventiveness of Bush’s voice and the theatricality of her stage presence. “On the surface, our music is obviously very different, but in important ways, it is exactly the same. What I love about Kate’s music is I never know what sound I’m going to hear next. She ignores anything that seems like a formula and instead she just does whatever she wants to do like me, she challenges me as a listener and expands my ears and my mind.” He also shared personal memories of meeting her and introducing her to his family.
Big Boi has long championed the British singer in interviews over the decades. “She’s one of my all-time favorite artists. She’s Number One,” the rapper said in a 2013 interview, where he also referenced riding his bike to her music as a kid. His Hall of Fame speech was followed by a video that featured Elton John, Peter Gabriel, and David Gilmour honoring Bush’s career.
St. Vincent then took the stage for “Running Up That Hill,” backed by the Blackstone House Band. The singer, born Annie Clark, has long been a fan of Bush’s, appearing as one of the artists gushing about the singer in the documentary The Kate Bush Story.
Prior to the ceremony, Bush issued a statement confirming she wouldn’t attend the event and shared how honored she was about the recognition. “I am completely blown away by this huge honor – an award that sits in the big beating heart of the American music industry,” she said. “Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. I never imagined I would be given this wonderful accolade.”
She shared how excited she was about being nominated alongside artists she’s long admired. “When I was growing up, my hero was Elton John. I pored over his music, longed to be able to play piano like him and longed to write songs that could move people in the way his work moved me,” she said. “That little girl in South East London could never have dreamed she’d be sharing the event tonight with Bernie Taupin, Elton’s writing partner, an incredible lyricist who inspired me to keep writing songs – to keep trying. Congratulations Bernie! Congratulations to everyone who is being inducted tonight!”
Bush was finally inducted into the Rock Hall on her fourth nomination. The honor comes after the essential Eighties artist — who’s always had a legion of devoted fans — enjoyed a resurgence of mainstream interest after Stranger Things helped turn her 1985 classic “Running Up That Hill” into a hit again. The song eventually hit Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100; Bush had never had a song chart higher than Number 30 in the United States.