Often seen to be a figure who ushered in punk feminism, Poly Styrene (aka Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) has lost her battle with cancer. She revealed she had been diagnosed and had been receiving treatment for her illness in February 2011.
Styrene will be best remembered for her work with X-Ray Spex, a band whose debut album ‘Germ Free Adolescents’ (released in 1978) is seen as one of the greatest albums to stem from the British punk movement. The album was preceded by a single, ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours’ (arguable the band’s best known track, although it was not included on the original album release). The album itself spawned three other singles – ‘Identity’, ‘The Day The World Turned Day-Glo’ and ‘Germ Free Adolescents’, all of which were successful, breaking into the UK Top 40 singles chart. The band broke up prematurely, after Styrene suffered hallucinations on stage. She was originally misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, but was much later diagnosed as being bi-polar. The band reformed seventeen years later and released a second album, which was not a commercial success.
Outside of X-Ray Spex, Poly Styrene stayed largely out of the spotlight, but released solo material sporadically, none of which ever gained the level of success achieved by X-Ray Spex. Her last work ‘Generation Indigo’ was released on March 28th 2011.
Poly Styrene remembered in video:
X-Ray Spex – Identity (promo video)
X-Ray Spex – Art-I-Ficial (Old Grey Whistle Test)
Oh Bondage! Up Yours! (Punk In London documentary)
Poly Styrene – Virtual Boyfriend (official promo video, 2011)
Poly Styrene talks about her 2011 album, Generation Indigo