Tori Amos, born August 22, 1963, is an alternative rock singer, songwriter, and pianist. As one of the genre’s pioneers, Amos remains relevant in the present day. She’s evolved with the times, continuing to grow without losing the soul of her work or straying from her ideals. A self-taught pianist, Amos is a prodigy who developed a passion for music in her infancy and began performing live at 17. She’s ranked number 71 on VH1’s ‘100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll.’ Celebrate her birthday as you learn some facts about her life and achievements.
August 22, 1963
Who could have known that the daughter of a Methodist minister would grow up to be one of the most accomplished rock stars? With 16 studio and eight video albums under her belt, she’s a prolific artist who just can’t seem to quit. Music is in her blood. It always has been. Amos grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and other rockers-much to the dismay of her conservative Christian parents.
Amos grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, with her older brother Mike and sister Marie. While her siblings had to take formal piano lessons, she never needed them. Amos taught herself how to play the piano. She was so good that she could reproduce songs she had heard only once at two years old. At three, Amos composed her songs. She was accepted to the prestigious Peabody Conservatory at age five, becoming the youngest person to achieve this feat.
By the time she was 13, Amos was performing at various piano bars in Maryland, escorted by her father, who had accepted his daughter’s love for contemporary music. She continued making music, recording demo tapes that her father sent out to record labels. In 1979, Amos got signed by Atlantic Records and began her professional music career, moving to Los Angeles, where she performed at gay bars and piano bars. In 1986 she formed a band professional music career with her band ‘Y Kant Tori Read.’ Critics panned their music, one writer from “Billboard” even terming it “bimbo music.”
Amos started her solo music career in 1990, releasing the critically acclaimed “Little Earthquakes.” The album chronicled her life story and experiences, from her religious upbringing and conflict with her parents over her lifestyle choices to her sexual assault when she moved to Los Angeles. “Little Earthquakes” was her breakthrough album, charting at number 15 in the U.K. and gaining traction among alternative rock listeners in the U.S. Her next album, “Under the Pink,” charted at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and made it to number one on music charts in the U.K. in 1994.
In the mid-2000s Amos became one of the few female artists to secure five or more U.S. Top 10 album debuts when her albums “The Beekeeper” and “American Doll Posse” both charted at number five on the Billboard 200. In 2017 Amos returned to her more aggressive style, exploring topics like environmental issues and American politics in her album “Native Invader.” Amos’ latest album, “Ocean to Ocean,” was released in 2021, written and recorded from her home studio in Cornwall in the U.K. She toured the U.S. to promote the album in 2022 and will tour Europe for the same in 2023.
Amos becomes the frontwoman of ‘Y Kant Tori Read,’ a synth-pop band.
Amos releases “Little Earthquakes,” her debut solo album.
Amos founds the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network which has a national hotline.
She releases her sixteenth studio album dubbed “Ocean to Ocean.”
Why We Love Tori Amos
She fought sexism
Amos has constantly challenged gender norms in the music industry. Her album “Strange Little Girls” famously took songs written by men about women, flipping the perspective and reversing the gender roles.
She speaks for victims of trauma
In her debut solo album “Little Earthquakes,” Amos candidly discussed surviving rape at knifepoint in “Me and a Gun,” a song that earned her the Visionary Award from the D.C. Rape Crisis Center in 1994. She’s also the co-founder of a non-profit organization aiding victims of sexual assault and is a vocal member of the #MeToo movement.
She fights for indigenous rights
Amos is part Cherokee-Indian on her mother’s side. She’s always been in touch with her native ancestry, working with shamans, going on a pilgrimage to the Great Smoky Mountains, and working with the Association of American Indian Physicians to champion the rights of the First Nation. Her experiences in the Smokies inspired her album “Native Invader.”
5 Surprising Facts
She got expelled from Peabody
Amos got accepted into the prestigious Peabody Conservatory at age five but was expelled by age 11 for clashing with instructors because she wanted to play contemporary songs.
Taylor Swift is a fan
Taylor Swift performed a cover of Amos’ song “A Sorta Fairytale” during a concert in 2011.
She experimented with psychedelics
In the late 1980s, Amos worked with a shaman and experimented with psychedelics like ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms.
She has difficulty reading
The name of her first band, ‘Y Kant Tori Read,’ refers to Amos’ difficulties with reading.
She’s not a natural redhead
Her trademark carrot-top isn’t natural; Amos dyes her hair red.
Tori Amos FAQs
Is Tori Amos a smoker?
No, Amos doesn’t smoke.
Is Tori Amos still married?
Amos has been married to Mark Hawley since February 22, 1998.
Is Tori Amos a good singer?
Amos is recognized as one of the greatest alternative rock music artists of the 1990s.
Tori Amos’s birthday dates