X-Ray Spex singer Poly Styrene dies at 53

Punk icon and singer with seminal punk band X-Ray Spex has died, age 53, she had been fighting spinal and breast cancer.

Born Marian Joan Elliott-Said in 1957 in Bromley, Kent, she shot to sub-culture fame in 1977 with the release of ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours!’ which has been hailed as a classic punk single. She formed her band after seeing the Sex Pistols perform at Hastings Pier on her 18th birthday and developed a unique style which were both discordant and powerful.

Singer Billy Bragg was among those who paid tribute, saying: “Punk without Poly Styrene and the X-Ray Spex wouldn’t have been the same.”

“It’s always hard for women in rock music but it was particularly hard in the 70s,” he said. “I think she cut right through that. The work that she did and the things that she produced always stayed true to that original spirit of punk.”

The band released just one album in 1978, ‘Germ Free Adolescents’, before splitting up in 1979 after Styrene’s departure to record a solo album, ‘Translucence’. She subsequently retired from the music business and took up residence at a Hare Krishna temple in Hertfordshire with her daughter.

Brief forays back into the limelight occurred with a further album with X-Ray Spex, which was a flop and two more solo albums, ‘Flower Aeroplanes’ in 2004 and ‘Generation Indigo’ just last month.

In a recent interview she said: “I know I’ll probably be remembered for Oh Bondage Up Yours!” she told 6 Music last month. “I’d like to remembered for something a bit more spiritual.”

A statement on her official Twitter feed said: “We can confirm that the beautiful Poly Styrene, who has been a true fighter, won her battle on Monday evening to go to higher places.”


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