Brave Poly loses battle with cancer

Poly Styrene
Poly Styrene

THE music world has been left in shock following the death of well-known punk rocker Poly Styrene.

The 53-year-old, best remembered for her vocal performances from X-Ray Spex in the 1970s, was diagnosed with breast cancer last November.

Despite her defiant words that she would beat the illness in a recent Observer interview Poly, real name Marianne Elliot-Said, lost her battle on Monday night.

The cancer had spread to her spine and lungs, but despite barely being able to move, the singer spent her final weeks promoting her album Generation Indigo, from her bed at St Michael’s Hospice.

Only earlier this month the Observer interviewed Poly who defiantly said she was “living with cancer, not dying” from it.

Friends and family paid tribute to her.

Her daughter Celeste Bell-Dos Santos, who lives in Madrid, said: “We are all heart-broken over Poly’s death.

“She was a very special and spiritual person, warm, caring and creative and a great mum.

“Poly lived in Hastings for the last 10 years and was a great supporter of the town. She received such lovely care at the hospice and Poly really appreciated it.”

Singer Billy Bragg said: “Punk without Poly Styrene and the X-Ray Spex wouldn’t have been the same.”

Boy George said on Twitter: “I was a fan of Poly before I got to know her. Bless you Poly you will be missed. Legend.”

White witch and paranormal researcher Kevin Carlyon, of Dane Road, St Leonards, became close friends with Poly and knew her for more than 10 years.

He said: “She (Poly) was so alive with her new musical concept and was on a real buzz. Poly will be remembered as a lovely lady who didn’t have an ounce of bad in her but life wasn’t always so good in return. Rock on Poly. I know you’ll get the spirit world pogo dancing.”

Shirin Koohyar, Poly’s manager from Future Noise Music, who worked closely with her on her Generation Indigo album, said: “Poly paid homage to the youth of today with this album and believed that today’s youth need to be praised, rather than get bad press.

“She was the most positive person I ever met, incredibly sharp but at the same time very innocent.

“Poly was unbelieveably professional, a great and amazing artist, and every moment I spent with her was inspirational. She turned every negative into a positive.

“In the last few months of her life, what was going on in the world was of far more concern to her than her cancer.”

Darren Cain, also from Future Noise Music, said: “Poly was a punk among punks, a groundbreaking presence that left an unrepeatable mark on the musical landscape.

“Poly never sacrificed the intelligence or the fun in her music and style. Her trademark braces and dayglo clothes were a playful rejection of the status quo and of conformity and complacency.”

Poly was inspired to start her music career after seeing a gig by the Sex Pistols on Hastings Pier on her 18th birthday.

She was watching them, together with two students from Sweden and decided to place an ad inviting others to join her in forming a punk band.

Poly then formed X-Ray Spex in 1976 and their debut single Oh Bondage, Up Yours became a rallying cry for the punk movement.

The band released their famous debut album Germ Free Adolescents in November 1978.

Poly wrote a solo album called Translucence in 1980.

After watching a gig in Doncaster in 1978 she had a vision of a pink light in the sky and was misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic and sectioned for several months.

Poly was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1991, and, four years later, when she reformed X-Ray Spex she was hit by a fire engine.