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…
Each one of these women inspired me in different ways. I liked Poly Styrene’s optimism & her voice both her singing voice & her outlook on life. I admired Ari Up’s ability to be true to herself and creative and productive all her life. It’s sad that cancer would take both of them within such a short period of time.RIP Poly Styrene.
This is terrible news.
It is cliche to say this, but she was one-of-a-kind. And not one-of-a-kind like the rest of us. I mean, she was a true original.
The X-Ray Spex album is one of the truly great moments of the punk era. A record that still sounds great today. But Poly’s lyrics were so on-the-money. She was the person that could see all of the bullshit and quite merrily expose it all with wit and balls and a self-deprecating sense of humor.
She will really be missed and is gone way too soon.