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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, Natasha "Tash" Lórien Hawley, born on September 2, 2000.
Amos was at the forefront of a number of female singer-songwriters in the early 1990s and was noteworthy early in her career as one of the few music stars to use a piano as her primary instrument. She is known for emotionally intense songs that cover a wide range of subjects including sexuality, religion and personal tragedy.
Some of her charting singles include "Crucify", "Silent All These Years", "Cornflake Girl", "Caught a Lite Sneeze", "Professional Widow", "Spark" and "A Sorta Fairytale".
Amos has sold over 12 million records worldwide and has also enjoyed a large cult following.
Having a history of making eccentric and at times ribald comments during concerts and interviews, she has earned a reputation for being highly idiosyncratic.
Amos was the third child born to Rev. Dr. Edison and Mary Ellen Amos in Newton, North California. When Amos was 2, 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 scolarship 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 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 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, Most Talented, and Best All-Around. 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".
Even before Amos was eighteen, she had been compared to Kate Bush in regard to singing style and other musical tendencies.
However, at that time, Amos didn't even know who Bush was. Later on she would buy her first Kate Bush album and discover her music.
Y Kant Tori Read (1985-88)
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 1987 she appeared in the courtroom soap opera Trial by Jury as Carrie Hadler, a woman accused of killing her married lover with sex. (Clips would later be shown in the VH1 program "Before They Were Rock Stars".)
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).
In 1985, Amos formed a music group, Y Kant Tori Read.Tori came up with the name as a reference to her days back at the Peabody conservatory, where she was able to play songs on her piano simply after hearing them once, but was never able to get the hang of reading and playing from sheet music. Besides Amos, the group was composed of the aforementioned Caton, drummer Matt Sorum, bass player Brad Cobb and keyboardist Jim Tauber.
A year later, Atlantic Records gave Amos a six-record contract. In July 1988, the band's debut album Y Kant Tori Read was releasedand 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.
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 (UK Albums Chart) for 23 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.
The similarity between the cover photos on Amos's debut album Little Earthquakes and the US release of Kate Bush's debut The Kick Inside increased comparisons between her and Bush, though Amos states the similarity was coincidental. Amos has said she was impressed when she first listened to Bush when she was about 17 years old, and has since performed the Kate Bush songs "Running Up That Hill" and "And Dream of Sheep" in concert.
Little Earthquakes (1990-92)
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.
Under the Pink (1993-94)
After touring throughout 1992 in support of Little Earthquakes (Europe, North America, Australia, & Israel), 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". Tori Amos used a prepared upright piano for Bells for Her on this album. "Bells for Her" was also played on a prepared piano for the second half of that album's live tour.
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. 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.
Boys for Pele (1995-96)
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.
Amos performing on October 13, 1996 on her Dew Drop Inn tour.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 rock 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, as the (comparative) musical and lyrical straightforwardness of Little Earthquakes gave way to an interest in opaque lyrics (often centered in religion and mythology) and a darker, more complex sound. 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 and harmonium in addition to piano.
Several singles were released from the album: "Caught a Lite Sneeze" (January 1996), "Talula" (March (UK)/May (US) 1996), "Hey Jupiter" (July (UK)/August (US) 1996), and a dance club remix by Armand Van Helden 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 anthologies Tales of a Librarian (2003) and A Piano: The Collection (2006).The last single from the album was "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" (September 1996).
Also in 1996, Amos began her own vanity label called Igloo, internal to Atlantic Records. Her first signing (which she executively 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. The concert also introduced a year long campaign in collaboration with Calvin Klein eyewear. Proceeds were collected for RAINN. 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."
From the Choirgirl Hotel (1997-98)
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' 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 two recent miscarriages. 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' 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 hit after its release in June 1998 (becoming her last UK Top 40 hit to date, as well as her highest charting US single, reaching #49), and was followed by "Jackie's Strength" (September 1998) and "Cruel/Raspberry Swirl" (November 1998), both "Jackie's Strength" and "Raspberry Swirl" 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 through most of 1998.
To Venus and Back (1999)
After the successful band tour ended, 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. Inspired by fan demand for remastered b-sides from her extensive back-catalogue Tori started re-recording classics like "Here, in my Head" and "Honey" but found herself improvising new lyrics and eventually entirely new songs. 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 Venus 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 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" (August 1999), "Glory of the '80s" (November 1999), and "Concertina" (February 2000). The album, priced more highly than previous releases because of 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.
Strange Little Girls (2000-01)
Amos took a break from both touring and recording 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.
As with her previous two studio albums, the covers album was recorded at her Cornwall studio. The album received mixed reviews upon its release in September 2001 with critics largely seeing the album as a mixed bag, praising the unlikely re-workings of Eminem's "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" and Slayer's "Raining Blood", while 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.
Amos performed her cover of Tom Waits' "Time" on Late Show with David Letterman on 9/18/2001, only one week after the events of 9/11, a time when many artists were leaving New York or unwilling to perform in such a public venue. She also did a public signing at Virgin Megastores in Union Square (New York City) in New York that same week.
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.
Scarlet's Walk (2002-03) and Welcome to Sunny Florida (2003-04)
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 partly 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.
Tales of a Librarian (2003)
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.
During this period she appeared in the film Mona Lisa Smile as a big-band singer.
The Beekeeper and Piece by Piece (2004-05)
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.
Tori Amos in concert in Frankfurt, Germany.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). Amos' promotional tours, dubbed the "Original Sinsuality Tour" and "Summer of Sin," found her toured solo, using piano and organ. 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. Amos wrote the closing track, "Toast", about him on the plane back from his funeral 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 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.
Fade to Red and A Piano: The Collection (2006)
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 Girl") 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" (music recorded in 1990, with lyrics/vocals finished in 2006), "Walk to Dublin (Sucker Reprise)" (recorded in 1995 for Boys for Pele), "Ode to My Clothes" (recorded in 2001 in between takes for Strange Little Girls), "Peeping Tommi" (recorded in 1993 for Under the Pink), "Not David Bowie" (recorded in 2004 for The Beekeeper), "Dolphin Song" (recorded in 2003), and the much-mythologized "Zero Point" (recorded in 1999 for To Venus and Back), which Amos had mentioned in interviews as well as the liner notes to 1999's To Venus and Back. The collection is packaged to resemble a piano keyboard with extensive liner notes (including Amos commentary) and a hard-back book.
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.
American Doll Posse and Legs & Boots (2007)
During the summer tour and in several interviews while promoting A Piano, Amos revealed details about her ninth studio album, American Doll Posse, released on May 1, 2007 in the USA. The first interview in which Amos commented in-depth on the album was published on the Internet on March 12, on guitarist and journalist Paul Tingen's site. The interview explained much about the thematic nature of the album and the concepts behind it. With this album Amos stated she was "jumping ship" from her previous work, with A Piano being the summation of her previous work and the end of an era. American Doll Posse was Amos's sixth album that debuted in the Top 10, at #5 in the United States, despite having fewer sales than The Beekeeper.
The "Posse", a group of girls who are used as a theme of alter-egos in the album, consists of Amos in a number of guises: Santa, Clyde, Isabel, Tori, and Pip. On March 23, 2007, toriamos.com released an audio clip from Amos, stating that each of the characters from American Doll Posse has her own online blog which she urged fans to find.
Previously, Amos had hinted at a release date of April 2007. It had also been hinted that Amos may bring back both her harpsichord (which she used on Boys for Pele) and Wurlitzer (used on Strange Little Girls and Scarlet's Walk), yet only the Wurlitzer appeared (on "Dark Side of the Sun"). She revealed in a Sound on Sound interview that she has been recording with new microphones and pianos (and will take a new piano on tour), and has also recorded with the Yamaha CS80 synth keyboard for the album. Two promos were released: "Big Wheel" and "Bouncing Off Clouds".
Amos followed the album's release with a new world tour beginning May 28th in Rome with full details published on her official website.
On October 16, 2007, Amos announced the release of the Legs & Boots series, digital downloads of several concerts on the North American leg of her American Doll Posse tour. Complete shows will be available in MP3 format for $9.99 a few hours after each show and in losslessly encoded, CD-quality FLAC files for $14.99 within a week after each show.