Saturday, 30 April 2011

Punk Pioneer: Poly Styrene & X-Ray Spex

Poly Styrene 

As there is Royal Wedding fever overkill everywhere right now. I thought I'd introduce you to
an individual who was a source of inspiration to me in my teens when I was singing in various bands.
I wish I had told you about her when she was alive. I was upset to hear about the death of Poly Styrene,
one of the first British punk pioneers. Born Marianne Joan Elliot-Said,
to an Scottish-Irish mother and
dispossessed Somali  aristocratic father, ran away from home aged 15.
On her 18th birthday, she witnessed one of the first gigs of the Sex Pistols,
where she was inspired to start her own punk band X-Ray Spex - Poly Styrene was born.

Poly Styrene

I was introduced to the world of X-Ray Spex after attending an anniversary gig
for punk music at the 100 Club at Tottenham Court road, with many punk legends
in attendance. I became friends with Bruno Wizard, who was a good friend, fellow
punk and collaborator of Poly Styrene, fronting his own ironic punk band
The Homosexuals during the heyday.
     We spent many an afternoon in cafes in Soho, seeing bands he manages,
with Bruno regaling me with his many adventures with Poly. He gave me a limited
edition album of X-Ray  Spex
with it's special art cover. Once I heard the words:  " Some people think little girls 
should be seen and not heard, but I think oh bondage up yours!"
I was hooked and obsessed about the band for a long time. I may often to start a DJ set with this
particular song, with Poly's nonchalant but menacing intro.

Original 77 punk loox
Chrissie Hynde, Pauline Black, Debbie Harry, Poly Styrene, Viv Albertine, Siouxsie Soux 1977


Poly Styrene. R.I.P.

The landmark X-Ray Spex
album Germ Free Adolescents
was a primary influence on
Britpop and Riot Grrrl.
Their influence has been
felt the world over. I was caught by
the combination of her distinctive voice, intelligent, political, humanitarian lyrics
(tackling poverty, racism amongst others) paired with her stylish rebellious attitude
and soaring saxophone behind most of their tracks. She made history as a bi-racial feminist
punk who put her own stamp on the movement. Poly was customising before
it was considered cool. Instead of the ready made expensive Seditionary style,
she performed in her self-made Day-Glo clothes & dental braces, encouraging
you to Do-It-Yourself.

Billboard described her as " The archetype for the modern day feminist punk....
she was one of the least conventional front-persons in rock history, male or female."


  1. HOLY CRAP! I had no clue polystyrene passed away!!!! May she rest in peace!

  2. May she rest in peace and this is a wonderful tribute to her Tolula.She was so inspiring and you are right she was customising way before it was the cool thing to do. Some people are just way ahead of their time.
    Wonderful piece for a wonderful person who will be missed.

  3. Hey Tolula!

    I was just wondering what styling methods you used when you were wearing your hair reddish brown and natural. it is the different tiny afro-styles you wearing last year or so that I am referring to. they were so cute and i would like to emulate the effect. would you mind sharing?

    thanks in advance!!!