Punk Icon Poly Styrene Dies From Breast Cancer
By Spinner Editors Posted Apr 27th 2011 12:05AM
The British-born singer was an inimitable voice in the first-generation London punk scene and the defining face of a heroic band that consistently broke from convention. On Tuesday, rumors of her death became increasingly credible, fueled by condolences on her Facebook page, and her UK spokesperson confirmed the news early Tuesday morning.
The statement continues, "At the centre of it was Poly Styrene, a bi-racial feminist punk with the perfect voice to soundtrack rebellion. Poly never sacrificed the intelligence or the fun in her music and style. Her trademark braces and dayglo clothes were a playful rejection of the status quo and of conformity and complacency. She dissected gender politics, consumer culture, and the obsessions of modern life in a way that made us all want sing along with her."
Loaded with witty, anti-establishment sentiments that seemed to dismiss proper feminism in favor of fierce individualism, Styrene informed the Riot Grrrl movement that would follow, long after she abandoned X-Ray Spex in 1979. The band's one true hit, 'Oh Bondage, Up Yours,' remains a key track in punk history, having proved itself a timeless classic. Like many punk bands from the era, their career lasted just three years with few, intermittent reunions thereafter, but their mark on the genre, the culture and music history at large is immeasurable.
Styrene left X-Ray Spex following some personal incidents which, in hindsight, only further solidified her as a punk goddess -- including claims that she suffered from hallucinations and a period in which she joined the Hare Krishnas. A solo career in the 1980s kept her name out there but was a mixed bag both in terms of the music (which ranged from dance-punk to something more akin to New Age) and in terms of the reception. More recently, she had a more earnest comeback, championed by a new solo album, 'Generation Indigo,' which was a return to form, gloriously recalling her days in X-Ray Spex. In a tragic coincidence, that album was released on the same day she passed away (Click the above link to listen to in its entirety).
In February, Styrene announced that she had breast cancer. A Facebook update, dated April 19, reads, "Slowly, slowly trying to get better, miss my walk along the promenade. Would be so nice to sing again, and play my new album live. It's nice to have something positive to look forward to, Love Poly X."
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