Banned Biographies

Banned Biographies is an audio documentary series charting the careers of some of the most notorious bands ever to grace the world’s stages.

Identity - The X-Ray Spex Story

March 1st, 2022

The girl who would grow up to be Poly Styrene, Marianne Joan Elliott-Said was one of three mixed race siblings living with their single mother and growing up in South London in the 1960s, which was - to put it lightly - not an environment known for racial tolerance.

She always felt different, not just in the way the she looked but in the way she thought too. A conventional life was not for her.

After building a relationship with an older man who also became her manager, she struck out to form a band, inspired - as so many young punks were - by watching the Sex Pistols. X-Ray Spex was born shortly afterwards.

Between 1976 and 1979, X-Ray Spex released just five singles and one album. Nevertheless, "Oh Bondage Up Yours!", is now acknowledged as a classic punk rock single and Germfree Adolescents is widely acclaimed as a classic album of the punk rock genre.

X-Ray Spex was one of the most inventive, original and genuinely exciting groups to emerge during the punk era. And fronted by Poly Styrene, the first woman of colour in the UK to front a successful rock band who was without question, one of Punk's most influential, colourful and greatest artists whose effect is still felt on bands today as well as the riot grrrl and afropunk movements.

Though she fought with mental health issues throughout here life as well as getting heavily involved in religion for a long period, it was cancer that eventually took her from us at tb he age of just 53. However, in her short life she introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about identity, consumerism, postmodernism, and everything she saw unfolding in late 1970s Britain, with a rare prescience. And contrary to her claims in the song I Am A Cliché, she certainly wasn't.

Join me on the psychedelic, day-glo story of X-Ray Spex.


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