I just wanted to take a minute of your time to honor the life of a true pioneer in music, and feminism in general.
Poly Styrene, born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, died Monday after recent surgery failed to slow the progress of breast cancer that had spread to her lungs and spine. Her planned comeback album, Generation Indigo, was released in the U.S. as scheduled today. She was 53.
53 is a horribly young age to have to succumb to the horror of terminal cancer. She was only a few years older than I am, and news like this always brings home the frailness of our mortality in the most uncomfortable manner. Here's a quick overview of Poly Styrene's early career, where she made her greatest impact and hit upon her most compelling innovations.
I was first exposed to the music of X-Ray Spex in college back in the early eighties. The fierce urgency of Poly Styrene's voice always cut right through the clutter, every time I heard it. In fact her singing was so distinctive, and their music so rewarding, that I never even bought any of their albums or singles back in the day, because they occupied such a familiar place in my head from hearing them played at venues all over New York city in the halcyon days of my early twenties. Perhaps the bravest aspect of her tenure as a singer was her decision to leave her early sound behind and explore a solo career that reflected her growing maturity and represented her inner life without catering to the expectations of others.
I'm very sorry to hear of this loss, and I hope those of you who don't know of her or have never heard of her before will see from these few clips that she was a brave soul, a true innovator, and a model for women everywhere, at any age.