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Tori Amos Timeline
[before] [1963-1968] [1969-1974] [1975-1977] [1978-1983] [1984-1989] [1990-1992] [1993-1994] [1995-1996] [1997-1998] [1999-2000]  [2002-2003] [2004-2005] [2006-2008] [2009-2010] [2011-2013] [2014-2017] [future & now]
1963 - 1968
* Ed and Mary Amos leave their home in the D.C. area to visit Mary's parents in North Carolina. Mary is pregnant, and gets sick during the visit. A doctor advises her to stay until the baby is born.
August 22, 1963
* Myra Ellen Amos is born at the Old Catawba Hospital in Newton, North Carolina. She is the youngest of three children. Her brother, Mike, is 10 years older, and her sister, Marie, is 8 years older.
* The Amos family returns to Washington not long after, but young Ellen comes back to Newton frequently during her formative years to visit her grandparents, Poppa and Nannie. They are part Cherokee, and Poppa's stories and singing are a profound influence. [Raleigh News & Observer - August 11, 1996]
What is your earliest memory?
“My grandfather had a big old black 1952 Buick. I'd stand up in the back seat wearing my little hat and we'd go for a ride every day.” [New Musical Express - May 1998]
“Tori really was the apple of my grandfather's eye,” says her older brother, Mike Amos. “She was his last grandchild and came along after he had retired, so he spent a lot of time with her. I think she does get some of her musical ability from him.” [Raleigh News & Observer - August 11, 1996]
August 22, 1964
* Ellen turns 1.
August 22, 1965
* Ellen turns 2.
* When Ellen is 2½, the Amos family moves from Georgetown to Baltimore, Maryland. Myra Ellen can play the piano before she can even talk. The Amos family has a huge black upright piano that sits in the living room of their home in Baltimore, Maryland. Myra Ellen's brother and sister are both taking piano lessons. 2½ year old Myra Ellen gets up on the piano stool and begins playing by ear. She plays anything she hears, from classical to popular music.
* While in North Carolina for the summer, Ellen plays her Nannie's organ. She spends every summer with her grandparents in North Carolina until she's nine years old, when her Poppa dies.
“My mother says I was playing at two-and-a-half. In fact, my earliest memories of life are of me playing. There was an incredible sense of pull and draw. That was my friend. That was my best friend in the world. That was the only thing that understood me and that I understood. I remember having an incredible understanding of the universe. I didn't have fears. I believed that there were monsters. It didn't bother me. They were just part of the room. They weren't a bad thing. I believed in other dimensions. And it wasn't just a Christian world to me. I felt good vibes from Jesus, but I also felt good vibes from Robert Plant. When you're young, you're being told what to think. But I'd go to the piano and that's where I was comforted. It was my protector, the protector of my thoughts.” [Keyboard - September 1992]
“I was two and a half when I began playing the piano and I don't remember a time when I didn't play. I always remember playing, I never remember not playing. It was innate. My voice came with age. I was no Shirley Temple. It took years and years to develop. Like you know how some little kids have great voices at first but get worse later? Well I was the opposite. I vocally developed much later.” [Phone interview - October 30, 1996]
* Ellen attends her dad's church - the Epworth Chapel Methodist Church - every Sunday.
August 22, 1966
* Ellen turns 3.
August 22, 1967
* Ellen turns 4. Her talents grow - she plays Mozart by ear, and the entire film score to Oklahoma! after seeing it once. It becomes apparent that Myra Ellen is a child prodigy. She composes her first song at age 4.
You were already performing when you were four years old. Can you remember how you first became aware of music and the role it would play in your life?
“I just remember little things, like standing over the record player after my father would go to the church every day. My mother had a record collection in a box, and she would play that: Fats Waller, all sorts of stuff. She loved shows, so that was always hanging around - West Side Story and that. [sings] “I've been around the world in a plane” [from I Can't Get Started], Hoagy Carmichael, Gershwin. So I would hear things from my mother where the structure became part of my roots. Then Bartók really got drummed into me at the conservatory when I was five-and-a-half. That really became my passion: Bartók and Debussy, turn of the century. And the poets from the late 19th century: Baudelaire, e.e. cummings, Anaďs Nin. If we're talking about fertilizing the garden, those were my early years, along with records that my brother would bring into the house. He was ten years older than I was, so he would bring in the Beatles records, he would bring in the Led Zeppelin records, he would bring in Jim Morrison. The Doors would be sent back out within hours after he had brought it in, because my father said, “This guy is really of the Devil.” Zeppelin didn't last very long in the house either. But there were always neighborhood girls who had Zeppelin and everything else hanging around in their bedrooms.” [All Music zine - October 1999]
* Ellen spends the summers in Newton, North Carolina, with her mother's parents. They teach her about dreams, nature, and alternative medicine. She called her grandfather “Poppa” and he taught her many Cherokee stories and beliefs. Poppa had perfect pitch and an amazing singing voice, and he sang to Myra Ellen from the day she was born.
“She was always real musically inclined,” remembers Tori's cousin, Edwin A. Copeland Jr., who still lives in Newton. “She'd hear a song one time and play it on the piano. Every year she came down [to Newton for the summer], you could see how much she'd progressed. She could really play, I'll tell you that, and we all knew that was what she wanted to do.” [Raleigh News & Observer - August 11, 1996]
“...My mother was such an influence. Through her, I was exposed at an early age to Emily Dickenson and other writers she loved. She would always read Pippa Passes to me, by Robert Browning, that whole love story. She'd have tears in her eyes, and I'd be with her before kindergarten, crying. She worked in a record store, and she'd bring me home her favorites, like Nat 'King' Cole.” [Rolling Stone - October 31, 2002]
August 22, 1968
* Ellen turns 5 and begins kindergarten.
Click to read a story from when Ellen was 5.
* Her brother, who is 10 years older, introduces Ellen to rock music in the Sixties.
“He brought home Sergeant Pepper, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix... I thought Jimi was a pseudonym for Jesus. Jesus was a hippy in my mind. I was writing this romance in my head with him and Mary Magdalene. You know how you are when you're five.” [The London Independent - January 16, 1994]
“From the age of 5, I hated my grandmother [her dad's mom]. She was also a minister and believed that a young woman should turn her body over to her husband, who then owns it. Until then, she said, you should remain untouched. She told me that if I didn't love Jesus there would be no money for me in the Christmas kitty.” [She (UK) - May 1998]
I like your hair at the moment. You've gone back to a kind of gingery orange.
But that's kind of your colour isn't it?
“Yeah, I wanted to be this when I was born, but um, that didn't work out in the gene pool. And I wanted to dye my hair when I was five but my mother thought it was way too early.” [Jonathan Ross radio show (UK) - December 8, 2001]
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the World of Tori Amos