Poly Styrene 1957 – 2011

Cult singer Poly Styrene, born Joan Elliott-Said, passed away last night, aged 53.

The British-Somali musician and songwriter, who fronted the pioneering punk band X-Ray Spex, lost her battle with breast cancer just weeks after the release of her comeback solo album Generation Indigo.

Elliot-Said, a revered feminist punk hero, was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1957. She released her first single, reggae song Silly Billy, under the Mari Elliot moniker in 1976.

Then, after seeing the Sex Pistols perform in 1978, she formed X-Ray Spex with guitarist Jak Airport, bassist Paul Dean, drummer Paul Hurding and saxophonist Lora Logic.

The band was best known for the single Oh Bondage Up Yours! and debut album Germ Free Adolescents, which was released in 1978 and went to number 30 in the UK album chart.

Elliott-Said went on to record a solo album Translucence in 1980, and in 1983, she was initiated into the Hare Krishna movement and recorded at their studios. She released another solo album Flower Aeroplane in 2004.

In 2008, X-Ray Spex got together to perform seminal album Germ Free Adolescents in its entirety at the Camden Roundhouse, and a live CD and DVD of the event followed.

More recently, the innovative Elliott-Said collaborated with celebrated producer Youth (Edwyn Collins, The Verve, Killing Joke) on her final album Generation Indigo, which was released last month.

She promoted the record from a St Leonards’ hospice bed after announcing she had breast cancer earlier this year.

Rock journalist John Robb recently interviewed Elliott-Said about her current album. Watch the footage here.

RIP Poly Styrene, 3 July 1957 – 25 April 2011.

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