Xray Spex, Poly Styrene

UK punk icon Poly Styrene passed away yesterday (April 25) aged 53 after being diagnosed with cancer two months ago. Obituary in the Guardian. BBC report. Wikipedia.

After watching a very early gig by the Sex Pistols in an empty hall on Hastings Pier, playing a set of cover songs,[7] she was so inspired that she put an ad in the paper for ‘young punx who want to stick it together’ to form a band.[8] So it was that, as Poly Styrene, the singer with X-Ray Spex,[4] she was described by Billboard as the “archetype for the modern-day feminist punk”; because she wore braces, stood against the typical sex object female of 1970s rock star, sported a gaudy Dayglo wardrobe, and was of mixed race, she was “one of the least conventional front-persons in rock history, male or female”.

The fact is that she put together some very clever ideas, tunes and lyrics which made a statement which was more bold than many of the punk bands of the time. Add to that the naty sax lines provided by Laura Logic and the album Germ Free Adolecence has to rate as one of the all-time classics. I played with Poly at a Punk revival concert on 14th September 1991 at a sell-out gig at the Brixton Academy. She was a very genuine person, truthful and committed to her art. I knew her as Maharani which was her Hari Krishna name and as well as playing with the revival Xray Spex we met her a few times socially including a Krishna festival in South London. Perhaps what was most endearing was her wonderfully english eccentricity mixed with her humble but fiesty attitude.

Some bootleg film of “identity” from that concert.

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