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RIP: Legendary Feminist Punk Singer Poly Styrene Dies


This morning, we were sad to learn of the death of Poly Styrene, the infamous singer of ’70s punk band X-Ray Spex. Styrene — born Marian Joan Elliott-Said — passed away yesterday at the age of 53 after battling an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her vocal stylings as the frontwoman and songwriter for the Spex had a profound effect on punk music and the waves of girl-fronted bands that would follow. Latter day feminist musicians like Sleater Kinney’s Corin Tucker and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna looked to Styrene for inspiration; at the beginning of the Spex’s breakthrough track, “Oh Bondage, Up Yours” (above), Styrene sweetly snarls, “Some people believe little girls should be seen and not heard. Oh bondage, up yours!”, encapsulating, no doubt, her marginalized position as a woman in British society, and in male-dominated punk rock specifically. Styrene’s free spirit was reflected even in her approach to the news of her terminal illness. “You remember that old song ‘Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see’?” she told a reporter in March. “I’ve always felt that. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I wouldn’t change a thing.” As one fan wrote of her passing, “RIP Poly nothing plastic about her…” We couldn’t agree more. [The Guardian]

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