Kathy Bushnell is an American musician/songwriter who plays electric and acoustic guitars, keyboard, harmonica and flute. She co-founded the first female rock duo in Britain, Emily Muff, with her college friend Janet Dourif. Kathy is a published songwriter and member of ASCAP. Three of her current solo songs on YouTube feature her on vocals, electric lead and rhythm guitar, keyboard, and harmonica.
Kathy and Janet's duo was formed in 1968 and given the name Emily Muff by the band Family. While rehearsing in Wales, their duo was filmed by BBC Wales-TV for a guest appearance on the Meic Steven's Special.
After returning to London, Emily Muff was booked to open for the rock group Family at Mother's Club in Birmingham. Soon after, Janet and Kathy's rock duo made its official London debut at The Marquee Club.
Emily Muff continued to tour the rock music circuit until 1971, performing original songs that featured soaring harmonies, Telecaster and Rickenbacker guitars, keyboard, flute, and blues harmonicas.
In addition to opening shows for the bands Family, Yes, Mighty Baby, Quintessence, and America, Janet and Kathy appeared on BBC London-TV singing backup vocals on Family's hit song "Today." Emily Muff also appeared on the same bill with rock notables Rod Stewart, Steppenwolf, Van der Graaf Generator, and The Incredible String Band. During this time, their female group was offered recording contracts by both Warner/Reprise and Liberty Records. Janet and Kathy’s pioneer rock duo made its final concert appearance in December of 1971 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Upon her return to the United States, Kathy began a solo music career. Her song "Inside Out" was featured in The Spectator "Triangle Tapes, Part Two" edition and likened to "Love Her Madly" by the Doors. Several of her original instrumentals have aired worldwide on MUZAK. Three of Kathy Bushnell’s current solo songs, "In The Moonlight", "Can’t Be An Illusion", and "Over The Line" feature her on vocals, harmonies, electric rhythm and lead guitar, keyboards and harmonica.
Music, Dance, and Academic Achievements
As a child, Kathy enjoyed her weekly piano lessons at The Mannes of College Music, and she studied ballet at The Joffrey School of Ballet. In addition, she performed with the Paul Sanasardo/Donya Feuer Dance Company, and attended New York City’s School of Performing Arts as a dance major. She later earned a BA degree from Hunter College of the CUNY, and an MSW from New York University.
Kathy Bushnell’s early musical influences include a wide range of classical, rock, blues, and folk that inspired her to begin writing her own songs around the age of eleven.
Around that time, her family was living in NYC’s Greenwich Village where Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and groups like The Lovin’ Spoonful were performing at the various local clubs and coffee houses. On Sundays, Kathy and her brother Alan hung out in nearby Washington Square Park – where musicians Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Stefan Grossman and others gathered together to play informal jam sessions.
In addition, Kathy eagerly attended gigs by Simon and Garfunkel, The Animals, Steve Miller Band, The Byrds, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and The Mamas and The Papas.
Kathy also loved the music of many “British Invasion” bands, as well. She attended a taping of several British groups on the Hullabaloo TV show, and was awed by the performances of The Rolling Stones at NYC’s Academy of Music. On August 15, 1965 Kathy and her brother witnessed The Beatles playing their iconic concert at Shea Stadium in Queens, N.Y.
Several months later, Kathy met rockers Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones at The Phone Booth Club in Manhattan. Inspired by this momentous evening, she began saving up funds to launch her own “Bushnell Invasion” of Britain.
Listen to Kathy
Want to gain insights from behind-the-scenes moments while opening shows for major rock groups of the 60's & 70's? Hear Kathy share tips and stories from her rock duo days in this interview on Rock the Next Stage with Dori Staehle. Recorded October 2016.
Living Her Dreams
During the famous 1967 “Summer of Love,” Kathy journeyed with her friend Janet Dourif to France, Scandinavia, and Great Britain. While they were in Copenhagen, they met British guitarist Martin Stone and attended a gig by his group, The Savoy Brown Blues Band. After rendezvousing with Martin later that summer, he introduced the two young women to his other musician friends - and Janet and Kathy found themselves immersed in the excitement of the London Rock/Blues music scene.
The following year Janet and Kathy moved to London and rented a “bedsit” in the Chelsea home of musician Victor Brox. Guitarist Martin Stone lived around the corner with his new band, Mighty Baby, and members of the rock group Family resided next door. Inspired by the amazing music that surrounded them, Janet and Kathy (who both played guitar and piano) began writing songs together.
By that time, keyboardist Tony Kaye had moved into the flat next to Kathy and Janet. Not long after he joined the band Yes, Tony heard his two American neighbors jamming together, and encouraged them to form a rock duo.
Janet and Kathy continued to write original songs that featured their soaring vocal harmonies, electric rhythm and lead guitars, keyboard, flute, and harmonica. Once the band Family heard them play, their fledgling rock duo was given the name Emily Muff and invited to tour as Family’s support group.
Around this time, Janet and Kathy met with the esteemed and innovative BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. During this meeting, he congratulated Janet and Kathy on the formation of Emily Muff - and its unique status as Britain's first female rock duo.
With Fender Telecaster and Rickenbacker guitars, flute, and blues harmonicas in hand, Kathy and Janet’s pioneer duo toured throughout the rock music circuit in Britain, opening shows for the bands Family, Yes, and Mighty Baby. Emily Muff also appeared on the same bill with rock notables Rod Stewart, America, Steppenwolf, Quintessence, Van der Graaf Generator, and The Incredible String Band. In December of 1971, Janet and Kathy’s duo made its final appearance at the sold-out Quintessence Christmas Concert in London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Kathy Bushnell and Janet Dourif’s innovation, creativity, courage and determination enabled Emily Muff to achieve a measure of success and recognition as the first female rock duo in Great Britain. The legacy of their band continues to live on - serving as an inspiration and role model for female rockers, both then and now.
Kathy continues to write, perform and record original songs.