You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Punk legend Poly Styrene dies

X-ray Spex singer was 53

Poly Styrene, the ungainly, vivacious British singer whose band X-ray Spex mocked both society’s conventions and punk rock’s excesses, died April 25 in England. She was 53.

In February, Styrene revealed that she was battling metastasizing breast cancer.

Born Marianne Elliot-Said of English and Somali parents, she grew up in Kent’s Bromley neighborhood, which also spawned the punk-era stars Siouxsie Sioux and Billy Idol.

After cutting a reggae-influenced single, “Silly Billy,” as Mari Elliot in 1976, she was drawn into London’s punk ferment, and rechristened herself Poly Styrene. Her band X-ray Spex, which also featured saxophonist Lora Logic, was among such prominent female-fronted punk acts as the Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The band made an immediate splash with their 1977 single “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” The song mocked the then-current punk fashion for bondage gear (stoked by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and designer Vivienne Westwood in their Kings Road shop Sex) and displayed a proud punk-feminist spirit.

The nose-thumbing album “Germ Free Adolescents” followed in 1978. With her braces and Day-glo togs, Styrene became a popular, attention-getting figure who defined punk’s freewheeling, socially alert spirit. But what she later described as a breakdown while on tour in 1978 ended the band’s moment in the spotlight. She was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

X-ray Spex reformed sporadically in the ’90s and ’00s, and cut the reunion album “Conscious Consumer” in 1995.

Styrene issued the solo albums “Translucence” in 1980 and “Flower Aeroplane” in 2004; material on the latter release reflected her commitment to the Hare Krishna movement. Her final album, “Generation Indigo,” was issued in March; Styrene announced at that point that she would not support its release with a tour, due to her illness.

She is survived by a daughter, singer Celeste Bell-Dos Santos of the Spanish group Debutant Disco.

More Music

  • Charli XCX Also Recorded Zedd's 'The

    Charli XCX Says She Also Recorded Zedd's 'The Middle'

    Poly Styrene, the ungainly, vivacious British singer whose band X-ray Spex mocked both society’s conventions and punk rock’s excesses, died April 25 in England. She was 53. In February, Styrene revealed that she was battling metastasizing breast cancer. Born Marianne Elliot-Said of English and Somali parents, she grew up in Kent’s Bromley neighborhood, which also […]

  • MSG Sphere in London

    MSG Sphere Unveiled With State-of-the-Art Venues Set For Las Vegas and London

    Poly Styrene, the ungainly, vivacious British singer whose band X-ray Spex mocked both society’s conventions and punk rock’s excesses, died April 25 in England. She was 53. In February, Styrene revealed that she was battling metastasizing breast cancer. Born Marianne Elliot-Said of English and Somali parents, she grew up in Kent’s Bromley neighborhood, which also […]

  • Cardi B Grammys

    Cardi B Sued by Former Manager for $10 Million

    Poly Styrene, the ungainly, vivacious British singer whose band X-ray Spex mocked both society’s conventions and punk rock’s excesses, died April 25 in England. She was 53. In February, Styrene revealed that she was battling metastasizing breast cancer. Born Marianne Elliot-Said of English and Somali parents, she grew up in Kent’s Bromley neighborhood, which also […]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    Rami Malek Embodies Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody' CinemaCon Footage

    Poly Styrene, the ungainly, vivacious British singer whose band X-ray Spex mocked both society’s conventions and punk rock’s excesses, died April 25 in England. She was 53. In February, Styrene revealed that she was battling metastasizing breast cancer. Born Marianne Elliot-Said of English and Somali parents, she grew up in Kent’s Bromley neighborhood, which also […]

  • Paradigm's Liz Morentin portrait session in

    Liz Morentin Named Head of Communications for Paradigm Talent Agency

    Poly Styrene, the ungainly, vivacious British singer whose band X-ray Spex mocked both society’s conventions and punk rock’s excesses, died April 25 in England. She was 53. In February, Styrene revealed that she was battling metastasizing breast cancer. Born Marianne Elliot-Said of English and Somali parents, she grew up in Kent’s Bromley neighborhood, which also […]

  • Andrew Gould Exits BMG for Downtown

    Andrew Gould Exits BMG for Downtown Music Publishing (EXCLUSIVE)

    Poly Styrene, the ungainly, vivacious British singer whose band X-ray Spex mocked both society’s conventions and punk rock’s excesses, died April 25 in England. She was 53. In February, Styrene revealed that she was battling metastasizing breast cancer. Born Marianne Elliot-Said of English and Somali parents, she grew up in Kent’s Bromley neighborhood, which also […]

  • Avicii’s Family Issues Second Statement

    Avicii’s Family Issues Second Statement, Implies Suicide: 'He Could Not Go On Any Longer'

    Poly Styrene, the ungainly, vivacious British singer whose band X-ray Spex mocked both society’s conventions and punk rock’s excesses, died April 25 in England. She was 53. In February, Styrene revealed that she was battling metastasizing breast cancer. Born Marianne Elliot-Said of English and Somali parents, she grew up in Kent’s Bromley neighborhood, which also […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content