Marianne Elliot-Said, better known as the punk singer Poly Styrene, passed away Monday evening. She'd been diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Styrene was the frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, a London band whose 1978 album Germ Free Adolescents is generally counted as one of the great punk rock records of the '70s. Their most enduring mark on the pop-culture landscape was the single "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!"--which kicked off with a Poly Styrene scream that Allmusic calls "one of the most visceral moments in all of British punk." (Girl Talk fans might recognize Styrene's voice from the opening seconds of the track "Smash Your Head"--that's her screaming "one, two, three, four!")
The Guardian's Dave Simpson remembers Styrene as a proud nonconformist. "Mixed race, young and wearing bonkers outfits and dental braces," he writes, "her simple but powerful message was that it was OK to be different because everyone is special." And Fraser McAlpine at BBC America echoes the sentiment: "Day-glo Poly with her braces and astringent yelp was a world away from either the punk archetype--skinny white boys in leather jackets and jeans, or the over-sexualised female pop star."