Saturday 3 December 2016

Punk star Poly Styrene dies at 53

Published 26/04/2011 | 14:43

Poly Styrene died at the age of 53 after battling cancer
Poly Styrene died at the age of 53 after battling cancer

Musicians and fans have paid tribute to inspirational punk pioneer Poly Styrene - frontwoman of X-Ray Spex - who has died after a battle with cancer.

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The singer, who was 53, scored chart hits with tracks such as Identity, The Day The World Turned Day-Glo and Germ Free Adolescents.

Styrene had recently promoted her comeback album Generation Indigo from a hospice after breast cancer spread to her lungs and spine before it could be diagnosed.

Billy Bragg praised the feisty star, saying she made "a truly original contribution to the spirit of punk".

The half-Somali singer, whose real name was Marianne Elliot Said, notably appeared on TV and in publicity shots with braces on her teeth when the band were at their height in the late 1970s.

Styrene - a Hare Krishna convert - recently predicted she would be remembered more for her band's anthem and first single Oh Bondage, Up Yours! than her spiritual side.

A statement announcing her death said: "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 in Bromley, south-east London, which became a crucible for many of punk's movers and shakers, she ran away from home when she was 15 to hitch between music festivals.

Her first release was a reggae track under her own name in 1976 but she went on to form X-Ray Spex after seeing the Pistols perform. Unusually for an early punk act, the line-up included a sax player.

The band's debut single became something of a rallying cry with its feisty half-spoken, half-shrieked opening line: "Some people think that little girls should be seen and not heard - well I think, oh bondage, up yours."

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