Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex

Punk icon Poly Styrene — who fronted the late-’70s group X-Ray Spex, still best known for its anthem “Oh Bondage Up Yours!,” before leaving music in the early ’80s to join the Hare Krishna movement — succumbed to cancer Monday night on the eve of her new record’s U.S. release. She was 53.

According to her official Twitter feed, “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.”

Born Marianne Elliot-Said, Sytrene had returned to music in the past few years, most recently releasing the album Generation Indigo and single “Virtual Boyfriend” (see video below) last month (the album, by grim coincidence, was just issued in the U.S. today). She told the BBC at the time, “I know I’ll probably be remembered for ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours!’ I’d like to remembered for something a bit more spiritual.”

This morning on Facebook, Billy Bragg called on fans to mourn Poly Styrene’s death by “celebrat(ing) her life!” He wrote, “Little girls should be seen and not heard wasn’t only a view held by our parent’s generation — the rock hacks of the mid-70s also subscribed to the idea that female musicians should be rock chicks a la Suzy Quatro. Poly pushed against that and the boys club that was early punk rock.”

See video of Poly Styrene and X-Ray Spex after the jump…

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