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Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos on August 22, 1963) is an American pianist and singer-songwriter. She is married to English sound engineer Mark Hawley. Together they have one daughter, Natashya "Tash" Lórien Hawley, born on September 5, 2000.
Amos was at the forefront of a number of female singer-songwriters in the early 1990s and is noteworthy as one of the few modern pop music stars to use a piano as her primary instrument. She is known for lyrically opaque but emotionally intense songs that cover a wide range of subjects including sexuality, religion, patriarchy and personal tragedy. Some of her charting singles are "Crucify", "Silent All These Years", "Cornflake Girl", "Caught a Lite Sneeze", "Professional Widow", and "Spark". Other significant recordings include "Me and a Gun", "Winter", "God", "Playboy Mommy" and "A Sorta Fairytale".
Amos has experienced limited chart success in the United States and the United Kingdom, but has enjoyed a large cult following, selling around 12 million albums worldwide during her solo career. She is also known for making eccentric and at times ribald comments during interviews and in concerts, lending her a reputation as being highly individualistic.
Amos was the third child born to Rev. Dr. Edison and Mary Ellen Amos in Newton, North Carolina, during a trip from their home in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) to North Carolina, at the Old Catawba Hospital in Newton. When Amos was 2½, her family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where she began to play the piano. By age five, she had begun composing instrumental pieces on piano and at nine started to add lyrics to her pieces.
In 1968, while living in Rockville, Maryland, she won a full scholarship to the Peabody Conservatory of Music. At age five, she was the youngest person ever to attend the school. At age 11, her scholarship was discontinued and she was asked to leave. Amos has asserted that she lost the scholarship because of her interest in rock and popular music coupled with her dislike for reading from sheet music. Two years later, she began studying at Montgomery College and began playing at piano bars, chaperoned by her father, who was sending tapes of songs she had written to record companies.
She first came to local notice by winning a county Teen Talent contest in 1977, singing a song called "More Than Just a Friend". By the time she reached high school, she was well known in the Washington, D.C. area. During her years at Richard Montgomery High School, she was elected Homecoming Queen, Most Likely to Succeed (female), Most Talented (female), and Best All-Around (female). She also became involved with Black Maskers, the school's drama group. As a high school senior, Amos co-wrote "Baltimore" with her brother Mike Amos for a competition involving the Baltimore Orioles. The song won the contest and became her first single, released as a 7" single pressed locally for family and friends during 1980 with another Amos-penned composition as a b-side, "Walking With You". At around this time she adopted the name "Tori" after a friend told her that she looked more like a Tori than a "Myra Ellen".
At age 21, Amos moved to Los Angeles to pursue her music career after several years performing on the piano bar circuit of the East Coast. While there she managed to get several acting jobs, including a Kellogg's Just Right cereal commercial (for which role she beat out a then-unknown Sarah Jessica Parker). In 1985, after playing in a bar one night, she gave a ride home to a regular customer at the establishment who sexually assaulted her, an experience that would later be revisited in her song "Me and a Gun". She also met Steve Caton, who played guitars on her albums through to To Venus and Back (1999), during this period.
In 1985, Amos formed a music group, Y Kant Tori Read, The band's name was a reference to Amos's facility with playing by ear at Peabody. Besides Amos, the group comprised the aforementioned Caton, Matt Sorum, and Brad Cobb. A year later, Atlantic Records gave Amos a six-record contract. In July 1988, the band's debut album Y Kant Tori Read was released and was widely panned by critics and snubbed by mainstream audiences, leaving Amos dejected and humiliated. After the flop, Amos began working with other artists (including Stan Ridgway of Wall of Voodoo, Sandra Bernhard, and Al Stewart) as a backup vocalist. She also recorded a song called "Distant Storm" for the film China O'Brien; in the credits, the song is attributed to a band called "Tess Makes Good" with "additional vocals by Ellen Amos."
Although Amos often voices embarrassment concerning Y Kant Tori Read, she has performed various songs from the album live in concert. The album is now out of print and original copies are considered quite valuable.
Despite the disappointing reaction to Y Kant Tori Read and its two minor singles "The Big Picture" and "Cool On Your Island", Amos still had to comply with her six-record contract with Atlantic Records, who in 1989 wanted a new record by March 1990. When she presented them with her initial recordings, they were rejected on the grounds that the "girl and a piano thing" was not going to sell records in an early-'90s market of grunge, rock, rap, and dance music. Extensively reworked and expanded with the help of Steve Caton, Eric Rosse, Will MacGregor, Carlo Nuccio, and Dan Nebenzal, the record ended up full of raw, emotive songs recounting her religious upbringing, sexual awakening, struggle to establish her identity, and her sexual assault. The Atlantic executives changed their minds upon hearing the edited version, with the plan to promote her as an heir to Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro, or alternatively as a female version of Elton John. Expecting the traditionally more open-minded UK market to warm to Amos and to create a "buzz" with which to return to the US, Atlantic relocated Amos to England in early 1991 to play small clubs in preparation for the launch of the new album, which was released under the title Little Earthquakes.
Atlantic's European counterpart, East West, promoted the record extensively. Amos spent much of 1991 performing in small bars and clubs in London and playing for music executives and journalists, often in her own apartment. The "Me and a Gun" EP containing 4 tracks was released in October 1991, receiving considerable critical attention. The single was re-issued the following month with "Silent All These Years" as the lead composition, and it became her first chart entry at UK #51 following Single of the Week support from BBC Radio 1 and a TV debut on the high-rated chat show of Jonathan Ross on the BBC.
When the album was finally released in the UK in January 1992, it reached #14 and remained on the top 75 charts for 16 weeks. A month later, it was released in the USA to breakthrough critical success and also announced itself as a chart mainstay, despite peaking outside the Top 50 on the Billboard 200. The accompanying singles (along with "Me and a Gun" and "Silent All These Years") were "China" (January 1992 UK), "Winter" (March 1992 UK/November 1992 US) and "Crucify" (May 1992 US/June 1992 UK), the US EP version of which featured covers of songs by artists including The Rolling Stones and Nirvana. During this time, Amos recorded the song "The Happy Worker" for the Toys movie soundtrack. A remix of the song is also included on the soundtrack, titled "Workers".
During this period, Amos befriended author Neil Gaiman, who became a fan after Amos referenced him in the song "Tear In Your Hand" and also in print interviews. It is often said that the character Delirium from Gaiman's The Sandman series (or even her sister Death) is based on her; Gaiman has stated that "they steal shamelessly from each other" (the character was actually created before the two met). Gaiman was to become a long-time friend and collaborator. His 2006 tribute album from Ferret Records has an Amos lyric for its title (Where's Neil When You Need Him?) and contains the Amos track "Sister Named Desire". She also wrote the introduction to the trade paperback collection of Gaiman's Death: The High Cost of Living.
After touring throughout 1992 in support of Little Earthquakes (including a stint in Israel as well as Europe, North America, and Australia), Amos traveled to New Mexico with personal and professional partner Eric Rosse in 1993 to write and largely record her second solo record, Under the Pink.
The inspiration for the previous album had been the events in Amos's own life, but for her second album she drew inspiration elsewhere — from the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and Salvador Dalí, the literature of Alice Walker, and the Russian princess Anastasia Romanov. Musically, Amos drew from the style of classical composers she had studied during her childhood, and put more focus on her solo piano rather than band instrumentation. The musical complexity drawn from her classical background is particularly evident in such tracks as "Icicle" and the sweeping, nine-and-a-half minute, "Yes, Anastasia".
Upon its release in January 1994, the album debuted at #1 in the UK on the back of the hit single "Cornflake Girl" (based on the novel Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker), and #12 in the US charts. Although it drew a mostly favourable reaction, it disappointed some critics who considered it a step sideways rather than forwards from Little Earthquakes (but was voted among the greatest albums of the 1990s by Rolling Stone magazine some years later). In February, Amos began the "Under the Pink" tour, which lasted until November and encompassed many of the same stops as on the previous world tour.
Four songs were released as singles from Under the Pink: "God" (January 1994), "Cornflake Girl" (a #4 single in the UK in January 1994), "Pretty Good Year" (her second UK Top 10 hit in March 1994) and "Past the Mission" (May 1994), which featured the vocal contribution of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. A limited edition release of the album commemorating the Australian tour included a second disc entitled "More Pink", a collection of rare B-Sides like "Little Drummer Boy" and a cover version of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You", was issued in November 1994.
Around this time, an Australian tabloid took "upskirt" photographs of Amos during a live performance at which she was not wearing underwear. Some claim that this is the reason Tori did not tour Australia again until 2005, but Tori herself cited the cause as the interference of marriage, miscarriages and limitations on travel with a young child. During this period, she also contributed the song "Butterfly" to the soundtrack for the 1994 movie Higher Learning, as well as a cover of the R.E.M song "Losing My Religion".
In June 1994, Amos co-founded RAINN, The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. RAINN is a toll-free help line in the US which connects callers with their local rape crisis center. In 1995, Amos, duetting with Robert Plant, contributed the song "Down by the Seaside" to the Led Zeppelin tribute album Encomium.
The idea for Amos's third solo album first originated in August 1994 during a break from the tour to promote the Under the Pink album. Amos had split from Eric Rosse both personally and professionally after a seven-year relationship, and she took a trip to Hawaii where she studied the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele, the "empowering female force" behind Boys for Pele.
The album was recorded in an Irish church, in County Wicklow, Ireland in 1995 as well as an old Georgian house, also in Ireland. After two albums of piano-driven pop music, Amos took advantage of the church recording setting to create an album ripe with baroque influences, lending it a darker sound and style. She added harpsichord, harmonium, and clavichord to her keyboard repertoire, and also included such anomalies as a gospel choir, bagpipes, church bells, and drum programming.
Boys for Pele was released in January 1996. Substantially longer than the first two albums at around 70 minutes, it garnered mixed reviews; some critics praised its intensity and uniqueness while others bemoaned its comparative impenetrability. It was perhaps the first in a style of which Amos seems to work, with albums either being comprised of 11 or 12 tracks or alternatively, either 18 or 19. The erratic lyrical content of its songs seemed indecipherable to some fans, and the instrumentation kept it away from mainstream audiences. Nevertheless, Boys for Pele is Amos's most successful transatlantic chart release, reaching UK #2 and US #2 upon its release at the height of her fame (and as with her first four solo albums, it has been certified platinum for sales of more than a million US copies). The accompanying tour was known as the "Dew Drop Inn" tour (a reference to a lyric from "Muhammad My Friend"); as on the album, Amos performed on harpsichord in addition to piano.
Several singles were released from the album: "Caught a Lite Sneeze" (January 1996), "Talula" (March 1996), "Hey Jupiter" (July 1996), and a dance club remix of "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" (September 1996). The Armand Van Helden remix of "Professional Widow" became a massive club hit internationally, reaching #1 on the US dance charts, and #1 in the UK. The remix was included in her later anthology Tales of a Librarian (2003) and A Piano: The Collection (2006).
The movie Twister, released in 1996, included a remix of "Talula" which would replace the original cut of "Talula" on later pressings of Boys for Pele. The remix was done by electronica artist BT (Brian Transeau), and this collaboration also resulted in Amos's vocal contribution to the song "Blue Skies" from BT's album Ima. The song was released as a single and gave Amos another #1 dance hit in the US.
Also in 1996, Amos began her own vanity label called Igloo, internal to Atlantic Records. Her first signing (which she co-produced) was the band Pet, headed by lead singer Lisa Papineau. Their self-titled debut album included the song "Lil Boots", which was also featured on the soundtrack for The Crow: City of Angels. Record sales were meager and the subsidiary label was quickly folded.
Amos performed a highly publicized television concert called "The Concert for RAINN" in early 1997. This coincided with "National RAINN Day", and during the concert all cable and network television stations aired Amos's public service announcement about the organization. During this concert Amos performed her song "Muhammad My Friend" with her friend Maynard James Keenan of the band Tool. She also co-wrote/performed a song called "It Might Hurt a Bit" with singer Michael Stipe of the band R.E.M.. It was intended for the soundtrack to the film Don Juan DeMarco, but was not used and has never been released.
Amos has openly discussed her experiences with hallucinogenic drugs, particularly in relation to the Boys for Pele album. She claims that she had "tea with the devil" (whom she describes as a lovely woman who dresses in white and drives an ice cream truck) during one of these experiences. This led her to write the track "Father Lucifer."
During the tour to promote Boys for Pele, Amos and her sound engineer Mark Hawley began a relationship and Amos later discovered she was pregnant. She planned to take 1997 away from the limelight and the recording studio in order to look after her unborn child, however, Amos miscarried two days before Christmas 1996 at three months, plunging her into new emotional depths. During her recovery period at her second home in Florida, Amos unexpectedly began writing new songs.
After writing in "the tropics" of Florida (where she suffered a second miscarriage in May 1997, this time earlier in the pregnancy), Amos returned to Cornwall, England, where she settled with Hawley in 1997. They converted the barn of their new home into a state-of-the-art recording studio, Martian Engineering Studios, and Amos spent the latter part of 1997 recording her new songs there. After three albums of largely acoustic piano-based music, Amos embraced some styles of dance music after the remix of "Professional Widow" became a worldwide hit, and also decided to feature arrangements which expanded considerably on her core piano sound, including elements of electronica and jazz.
Following Amos and Hawley's marriage on February 22, 1998, Atlantic released Amos's fourth solo album, from the choirgirl hotel, in May 1998. Many of the songs on the album (e.g. "Playboy Mommy" and "Spark") dealt with her recent miscarriage. A departure from earlier records, it was much more lavishly produced, and the glossier sound fared well with audiences, with the album reaching UK #6 and US #5. Reviews were mostly favourable and praising of Amos's continued artistic originality (it was voted among the best albums of the year by Q magazine), and the album was generally well-received by Amos fans. Amos herself lists the album as her favorite.
The lead single "Spark" became a substantial hit after its release in April 1998 (becoming her last UK Top 40 hit to date), and was followed by "Raspberry Swirl" (August 1998) and "Jackie's Strength" (September 1998), both of which were subsequently remixed and became substantial dance hits.
The accompanying tour, Amos's first with a full band (using the album's personnel of Matt Chamberlain on drums, Jon Evans on bass, and long-time collaborator Steve Caton on guitar), was known as the "Plugged '98 Tour" and took Amos up to the end of the year.
After the successful band tour ended in December 1998, Amos decided to make her next project a double album comprising live material recorded on the tour as well as b-sides, bolstered by two to three new unreleased compositions. By this time, Amos had built up an extensive catalogue of b-side material. However, when writing and selecting the new songs to include, Amos was advised by her sound engineers to abandon the plan of a b-sides album in favour of a new studio set, as her new songs, heavily influenced by electronica and studio technology, would sound out of place next to the stripped-down style of many of her b-sides. Thus, the project mutated into a two-disc set comprising live songs from the tour and a new studio disc (plans to release a live video/DVD of the tour were also abandoned).
After rapid recording sessions, the double album was released in September 1999 under the title To Venus and Back. The album included a live disc (subtitled Live: Still Orbiting) as well as a disc of new studio material (subtitled Venus Orbiting). This album was sparser both in production and arrangement than from the choirgirl hotel, but like it featured overt dance music and electronica influences and a relatively subdued piano sound. Topics covered on the album included a series of unsolved female homicides in Ciudad Juárez on the U.S.-Mexico border, hallucinogenic plants, and Napoleon Bonaparte. The single releases were "Bliss" (August 1999), "1000 Oceans" (September 1999), "Glory of the '80s" (November 1999), and "Concertina" (February 2000). The album itself, priced more highly than previous releases due to its two-disc format, reached UK #22 and US #12, breaking her run of three consecutive UK Top 10 albums.
The album was supported by a short tour in 1999, the "Five and a Half Weeks Tour", which Amos co-headlined with Alanis Morissette around a month prior to the release of the double album. Many referred to Amos as the "opening act" for Morissette because she always performed first; however, this was due only to the logistics of setting up a grand piano for performance. An Amos-only stint, the "To Dallas and Back" tour, also took place, but promotional plans were cut when Amos suffered her third miscarriage, again at three months, on November 11, 1999. In her 2005 book Piece by Piece, Amos revealed that Atlantic allowed her only two days before pushing her back into a promotional schedule, one reason that caused her eventual split from the record label in 2002.
Amos took a break from both touring and writing in 2000 and that September gave birth to her daughter, Natashya, after suffering a total of three miscarriages. Inspired by the songs she heard on the radio while looking after her daughter at her second home in Florida, Amos hatched the idea to produce a covers project, recording songs written by men about women and turning them around to suit the female perspective. In her 2005 book Piece by Piece, Amos revealed that a stimulus for the album was to quickly end her Atlantic contract without giving them new original songs; Amos felt that since 1998, the label had not been promoting her well enough and had "trapped" her in a contract she was unable to leave until she had delivered three more albums and a hits collection. After the double-album To Venus and Back, the covers project would clear her contract before a hits package release.
Recorded, as with her previous two studio albums at her Cornwall studio, the covers album Strange Little Girls was released to mixed reception in September 2001. Critics largely saw the album as a mixed bag, praising the unlikely reworkings of Eminem's "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" and Slayer's "Raining Blood", but panning the versions of The Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and Neil Young's "Heart of Gold". Amos also tackled songs by artists such as Tom Waits, The Velvet Underground, Depeche Mode, and The Stranglers, and also recorded songs by Public Enemy, Elvis Costello, and David Bowie but left them off the record. A planned commercial single, "Strange Little Girl" (The Stranglers), including Bowie's "After All" and Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed", was pulled from the shelves soon after being shipped to stores. Despite being recalled from the shelves, limited copies of the single were sold and a promotional video was made.
The unique album garnered substantial press attention, as did the packaging featuring Amos in various poses adopting the styles of the different female characters she portrays in each different song. Each picture, featuring make-up by Kevyn Aucoin, was accompanied by a piece of text from Neil Gaiman and formed a successful advertising campaign. The album was a commercial success, reaching UK #16 and US #4, her best position in the US for almost six years.
The accompanying "StrangeLittleTour", Amos's first entirely solo tour since 1994 was also one of her shortest ventures, lasting just three months, having brought her one-year-old daughter on the road with her.
After Strange Little Girls, Amos left Atlantic after a 15-year stint and signed to another major label, Sony/Epic in early 2002. After recording her label debut in early 2002 at her home studio in Cornwall, Amos returned with her first album of new original material for three years in October 2002, with her eighth major label release, Scarlet's Walk. Described as a "sonic novel", the 18-track album proved to be a landmark for a variety of reasons. Stylistically, Amos put drums and bass guitar at the forefront, using her piano playing as an accent rather than a highlight. Thematically, the album explored Amos's alter ego, Scarlet, and her cross-country trip in early 2001. Through the songs, Amos explores the history of America, American people, Native American history, pornography, masochism, homophobia and misogyny, but the political nature of the album is often tempered by the classic production and songwriting style, recalling the likes of Fleetwood Mac. The first single, "A Sorta Fairytale", (released September 2002) was a Top 10 Adult Contemporary hit in the US. It was also released as a single in the UK with a B-side entitled "Operation Peter Pan", based on the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
The second single, "Taxi Ride", was an homage to the late make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin, a friend of Amos who died in May 2002. A contest was held online to create a music video for the song and it reached the Top 40 Adult Contemporary chart in the US. The third single, "Strange", was remixed with a country and western feel and almost became a radio staple before a Timo Maas dance remix of "Don't Make Me Come to Vegas" continued Amos's fortunes on the dance charts. Of the last three singles, only "Vegas" was released commercially, exclusively on a 12" vinyl single in the USA.
In an attempt to prevent Internet trading of the album, Amos, in conjunction with her husband and crew, used glue to bind closed portable CD players containing the album. These were then distributed to the press on the understanding that they would be returned within forty-eight hours. If an attempt was made to open the player, both it and the disc inside would shatter. The success of this attempt was so great that the record industry began to follow suit. As an additional incentive to buy the album rather than download its contents illicitly, the CD also served as a key to access "Scarlet's Web", a website which featured several songs ("Tombigbee", "Seaside", "Mountain") as well as various photographs and journal entries that were not available elsewhere. Amos was nominated for a Grammy for the elaborate packaging of the limited edition version of the album. It included a bonus DVD as well as collectible items such as charms, stickers, a map, and mock Polaroid postcards. Once again, the album was a commercial success, reaching UK #26 and US #7 and becoming her biggest-selling album for five years.
An accompanying band tour, this time minus Steve Caton on guitar, lasted for almost a year and was Amos's longest trek since 1996. In May 2004, Amos released a DVD/CD set called Welcome to Sunny Florida. The DVD featured a full-length live performance from the final show of her 2003 "On Scarlet's Walk" tour, filmed at West Palm Beach. The CD compiled several previously Internet-exclusive B-sides from Scarlet's Walk, with some new tracks on a bonus disc entitled "Scarlet's Hidden Treasures." The set reached UK #1 on the Music Videos and DVDs Chart, and #2 on the US equivalent, qualifying it as a commercial success.
After having left Atlantic, Amos scored her biggest commercial success in five years with her Epic debut, Scarlet's Walk. However, she still owed Atlantic a retrospective hits package, and Amos elected to take a central role in the production of such a collection. In November 2003 Amos released Tales of a Librarian, which she called a "sonic autobiography", a title derived from her dislike of the term "greatest hits". Amos revisited the mixing of many of her own favourite songs from her career, focusing on those she thought were not fully realised in their original recordings and those that she felt explained her life story. Recording under the premise that a librarian is a "chronicler", Amos pieced together the album, adding two new songs and two re-recorded b-sides: "Angels", "Snow Cherries from France", "Sweet Dreams", and "Mary", respectively (the latter two compositions were originally recorded in 1990 during sessions for Little Earthquakes). Amos bypassed some of her more familiar hits such as "Pretty Good Year" and "Hey Jupiter" in favour of lesser-known songs such as "Way Down" and "Mr. Zebra", and also included the Armand van Helden remix of "Professional Widow" rather than the studio original. Nevertheless, the album was critically acclaimed, earning several five-star reviews.
The album also featured elaborate packaging, featuring a bonus DVD including a photo gallery and three live songs ("Honey", "Pretty Good Year", and "Northern Lad") recorded at the soundcheck of the final show on the "On Scarlet's Walk Tour" in September 2003 (the full concert was issued as Welcome to Sunny Florida). The songs were arranged in accordance with the Dewey Decimal System, extending the librarian theme of the album. Though the album charted at a lowly #40 in the US and #74 in the UK, making it her weakest-charting album to date, sales have evened out in the long-term.
Following the successful Scarlet's Walk album and tour, Amos was musically inspired by the tight band sound she afforded during her year-long trek with Matt Chamberlain and Jon Evans, and her next album project explored the tightness of this band sound. Recorded in the summer of 2004 at her home studio in Cornwall, Amos was conceptually influenced by the ancient art of beekeeping, which she considered a source of female inspiration and empowerment. Through extensive study, Amos also wove in the stories of the Gnostic gospels and the removal of women from a position of power within the Christian church to create an album based largely on religion and politics. Many fans and critics, however, have argued that the concept is unclear and confusing.
The album was released in February 2005 as The Beekeeper. The album deals with topics like death, adultery and romantic conflict, and makes brief reference to ancient Gnostic mysticism (although Amos's frequent reference to the Gnostic texts in interviews exaggerate its importance within the context of the album). The music is perhaps her most melodic, and saw a move towards a more groove-based sound, evidenced by the appearance of the London Community Gospel Choir on four songs and Amos's whirring B-3 Hammond organ, which Amos says was a gift from her husband. The album was praised in some quarters for being varied and musically adventurous, with Amos incorporating elements of funk and R&B, but for some, however, the album garnered some of her worst reviews. The album itself reached UK #24 and US #5, making Amos one of an elite group of women to have secured five or more US Top 10 album debuts. It is also her highest charting album in Germany (#8).
No commercial singles were released from the album, but three songs were released to radio: "Sleeps with Butterflies" (January 2005), "Sweet the Sting" (June 2005), and "Cars and Guitars" (November 2005). The accompanying tour, dubbed the "Original Sinsuality Tour", was Amos's first solo tour since 2001, using piano and organ. The tour also encompassed Australia, Amos's first trip there to perform since 1994. The tour received mixed reviews, but continued into the late summer of 2005 through Europe, including appearances in June 2005 at the Glastonbury Festival and Patti Smith's Meltdown festival in London. The tour finished in the States as the "Summer of Sin Tour", which received much better reviews than the earlier leg. A major feature of the tour was that fans could nominate cover songs on Amos's website which she would then choose from to play in a special section of the tour. One of the songs chosen was the Kylie Minogue hit "Can't Get You Out of My Head", which Amos dedicated to her the day after Minogue's breast cancer was announced to the public. Other songs performed by Amos include The Doors' "People are Strange", Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game", Björk's "Hyperballad", Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks", Kate Bush's "And Dream of Sheep" and Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over", dedicating it to drummer Paul Hester who had died a week before. Amos's general disconcern with the commercial side of the music industry was showcased when she did not bother performing the first single from the album in many cities; it is usually expected by record companies of a modern musician that they perform their singles or hits regularly.
In conjunction with the album, Amos released an autobiography co-authored by rock music journalist Ann Powers entitled Piece by Piece in February 2005. It delves deeply into Amos’s interest with mythology and religion and explores her songwriting process as well as telling the story of her progression into fame.
In November 2004 Amos's brother, Michael, died in a car accident. Tori wrote the closing track from The Beekeeper, 'Toast' about him shortly after this for last minute inclusion on the album, also adding the line 'Take this message to Michael' to the backing vocals on the title track.The Original Bootlegs and iTunes Essentials (2005)
In July 2005 Amos released an exclusive 45-track compilation in conjunction with the iTunes website called "iTunes Essentials". It consisted entirely of previously released material.
Amos, a long outspoken adversary of live bootleg recordings, announced in late 2005 that she would be issuing a series of live "official bootlegs", all recorded during her "Original Sinsuality" tour. A website was established at toriamosbootlegs.com where hard copies of the releases were made exclusively available. The packaging was minimal and featured bird/insect/snake artwork following the theme of The Beekeeper, which had featured elaborate packaging placing the various songs into different metaphorical gardens. The bootlegs were sold for $13.98 each and featured full concerts from her 2005 tour; the bootleg albums were widely acclaimed by both critics and fans and showcased Amos's continued unique performance style. Soon after the hard copies were released online retailers began offering the entire albums for paid download, and in December 2005 all six two-disc sets were issued as a 12-disc box set, The Original Bootlegs.
During 2005, Amos negotiated a contract with the Warner Bros. reissue imprint Rhino to release a string of Amos reissues and compilations. The first release of the deal was the two-disc DVD set Fade To Red: The Video Collection in February 2006, which contained all but three of Amos's solo music videos (Mary, Glory of the 80s, Strange Little Girls) as well as behind-the-scenes footage and commentary. The contract continued in September 2006 with the release of the career-spanning five-disc box set A Piano: The Collection, celebrating Amos's 15-year solo career. The set included various album songs, singles, remixes, alternate mixes, demos and a string of unreleased songs from album sessions, including "Take Me With You" (recorded partially in 1990 and finished in 2006), "Walk to Dublin (Sucker Reprise)" (recorded in 1995), "Ode to My Clothes" (recorded in 2001), "Peeping Tommi" (recorded in 1993), "Not David Bowie" (recorded in 2004), "Dolphin Song" (recorded in 2003), and the much-mythologised "Zero Point" (recorded in 1999), which Amos had mentioned in interviews as well as the liner notes to 1999's To Venus and Back. The collection is lavishly packaged to resemble a piano keyboard.
Some errors in the printed tracklisting have recently been noted - most noticeably, the inclusion of the live soundcheck version of "Purple People" rather than the b-side version, and the inclusion of an alternate mix of "Take to the Sky" rather than the original B-side version.
Many B-sides and rarities were not included in this collection.
During the summer tour and in several recent interviews while promoting A Piano, Amos has revealed cryptic details about her upcoming album. It has been confirmed that the new album will be called American Doll Posse and is scheduled for release on May 1, 2007. . Previously, Tori had hinted at a release date of April 2007. . It has also been confirmed that Tori is returning to the harpsichord for the first time since 1999's To Venus and Back (Glory of the 80's), along with the piano and Wurlitzer. . Amos has made several comments about bringing a "warrior woman" out on the next record. She has also stated that she is "jumping ship" with the next record and doing something completely different than her previous work.
The title for her new album has been confirmed by Billboard Magazine . Scheduled for a release date of May 1st, 2007, the new 'American Doll Posse' will be released via Epic records and is being recorded at her home base in Cornwall, England. Amos will follow the album's release with a new world tour beginning May 28th in Rome, with additional dates to be announced.
Early in her career Amos garnered a reputation for releasing an extensive catalogue of CD singles in conjunction with her albums. This catalogue of music collectables is so vast that a book was published in 1997 entitled "Tori Amos Collectibles" which served as a partial (to that date) photographic journal detailing the variety of world-wide releases, test pressings and bootlegs. One of Amos's best selling early releases was a five track E.P. for her song "Crucify" which was sold at regular album prices. Amos's penchant for including non-album B-sides on each of her singles played a major factor in her initial popularity. In particular her cover of the Nirvana song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from the "Crucify" E.P. garnered major press attention and critical lauds. One unusual choice of b-sides on a CD-single were the Chas and Dave compositions London Girls and That's What I Like Mick (The Sandwich Song). Many of Amos's b-sides feature on the A Piano: The Collection box set. Though in recent years the production of CD-singles has become less common, Amos continues to release non-album B-sides through the Internet.
Amos also established herself early-on as a willing contributor to film soundtracks (including Mission: Impossible II, Great Expectations and Mona Lisa Smile) as well as to compilation projects and projects by other artists (including Al Stewart, Tom Jones, and Sandra Bernhard). As such she has, to date, accumulated a catalogue of over 100 non-album tracks (not including live versions of album tracks or remixes.)
The majority of the allegations made here surfaced in Amos' biography Piece by Piece. They can neither be proven nor disproven, and are simply assertions made by Amos; however, they have not been contested by her former record label.
Conflict between Amos and the music industry has surfaced on various occasions. Her first label, Atlantic Records, wanted her 1994 album Under the Pink to be changed significantly before its release. She told them that it was not going to happen, and that if they brought it up again she would burn the masters.
After the release of her album from the choirgirl hotel in 1998, she had a meeting with the heads of the label. Amos questioned why her work was not being promoted properly. Atlantic revealed that they preferred to spend their capital trying to break in newer artists, who they felt would make them more money. Amos demanded to be freed from her contract, but the label refused. Instead, they chose to exercise their option to keep Amos on board until she had released an additional three albums, as stipulated in her contract. According to Amos, they felt their power had been challenged and intentionally would do as little as they could do (legally speaking) to promote the works so that her career would be decimated by the time she had a chance to switch to a new label.
The label fully followed through on their threat. For example: artists usually provide the label with a section of seats to each of their concerts that can be given to local radio honchos in exchange for the promise that the artist's new work would be heavily played. Atlantic Records gave Amos tickets while requesting that other artists on the label be played as a return favor. As a result, Amos's album sales steadily declined.
Amos, however, managed to beat the label at its own game. She experienced a sudden burst of creativity which formed into the 11 new songs on the first disc of her fifth album, To Venus and Back. In place of a previously planned album of B-sides, Amos released a double disc (including a disc of live material from her "Plugged '98" tour) thereby fulfilling two of her three remaining albums in a single release.
Ultimately in 2001, Atlantic records released a widely distributed press release listing the acts that they were "dropping from the label" due to alleged poor album sales. Among them were singer Poe and Amos. Amos claimed her contractual obligations had simply been fulfilled and that neither side was interested in renewing the contract.
If Amos’s reputation suffered from her dealings with Atlantic, it did not do so for long. After establishing a new deal with Epic Records, she achieved her most successful American radio single to date, "a sorta fairytale" (2002/3). Despite this, however, Epic has used a similar "promotion" that Tori was receiving from Atlantic.
Amos' acting has been limited to fringe performances. She performed in a variety of musical theatre productions during high school; notably footage of her performance in "Gypsy" has been shown in television specials about her career. She has long been asked to audition for roles, notably the female lead in The Crow: City of Angels. She appeared in the telesoap Trial by Jury in 1987 as a woman who was accused of killing her married lover. Also in the late 1980s she appeared in a television commercial for Kellogg's Just Right, a breakfast cereal. Amos has commented on a variety of roles from this era that she auditioned for but did not receive; notably she was offered the role played by Lea Thompson in the notorious flop Howard the Duck, but the offer was retracted when Thompson expressed interest. (Amos was later offered the role of the keyboardist in Thompson's character's band but had other commitments.) She was also offered the role played by Andie McDowell in the film Groundhog Day. Most of her contributions to cinema have been musical. In 1998 she coordinated the soundtrack of the film version of Great Expectations, weaving breathy, ethereal vocals through the film's background. She made her first character appearance in the 2003 film Mona Lisa Smile as a big-band singer.
Amos's fan base remains one of the most devoted of any artist. Many persons outside of Amos's fanbase perceive her fans to be overwhelmingly devoted to her, something that has been commented on by the media and towards which Amos has responded alternately with ire or acknowledgment. In particular, there is an infamous interview with an Australian radio station during which Amos turns hostile towards her interviewer when he refers to her fans as zealots.
Tori refers to her fans as "ears with feet", and has been quoted as saying "don't ever call yourself fans; you're ears with feet". 1. Amos coined this term circa 1996 and has since abandoned it, consistently referring to fans as simply "fans" during press interviews in 2005; said fans still hold onto the term devoutly, however. Amos also refers to her fans as "The People Who Come to the Shows." Numerous fans online have also coined the term, "Toriphiles".
Tori's fans have created three fanzines to celebrate her work. Really Deep Thoughts and Upside Down are now defunct. Little Blue World is a professionally-printed quarterly fanzine that began in May 2001. Since its inception, LBW has interviewed Tori herself, as well as Neil Gaiman, Matt Chamberlain, and the Amos family archivist, among others. LBW is now the longest-lasting Tori fanzine.
She is known for having a large fan base in the gay community, and has been referred to in the press and by fans as a gay icon . Amos stated in a Dateline NBC interview that in her teen years when she played in gay clubs she was taught "how to become a woman" by "these wonderful gay men".
In Amos's memoir Piece By Piece, her band members also commented on how a whole new generation of fans have been seen coming to the shows. Now, they observed, the original fans's younger siblings are coming.
Certain celebrity fans of Amos's include mutual fan and friend Neil Gaiman, Alanis Morissette, Trent Reznor, Michael Stipe, Maynard James Keenan, Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation, Boy George whom Amos gave a Kiss doll to, World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Mick Foley (who mentions listening to her songs to pump up before a match), the late Kevyn Aucoin, Todd DiSanto, Delta Goodrem, Amy Lee of Evanescence and numerous others.
At least two of Neil Gaiman's characters, Delirium from the Sandman comics series, and the talking tree in Stardust, are based in part on Tori Amos.
Despite her arguably fading commercial popularity, Amos remains one of the world's top touring artists and her tours regularly sell out. She was responsible for one of the world's highest-grossing tours in 2002-03, and her fans remain interested in her new music. When her 2005 tour was announced, tickets sold out for all 14 concerts on the opening US leg in under 10 minutes. Despite equally successful spring and summer tours in Australia and Europe, her 2005 Summer of Sin tour has only seen two concerts (Boston and Houston) sell out, the rest of which did not due to large venues being booked in preparation for a band tour à la Scarlet's Walk, which never happened.
Amos is recognised as one of the most-toured artists in modern popular music. She has been performing in bars and clubs from as early as 1976, and under her professional name began playing clubs in London in 1991, but her first "proper" tour began in 1992. Since then, she has performed more than 950 "proper" concerts as part of tours, and was voted by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 as the fifth-best live act. Her concerts are notable for their changing set lists from night to night.