I'm conscious of not posting everytime someone famous dies. Phil Vane, (friend and grindcore trooper) and Sleazy (one of music's most important creators and commentators) were two i couldn't let go with out saying something and Poly Styrene of X Ray Spex is someone else i would be remiss if i didn't say a few words about her.
I'll keep it short and break it down into two things, her importance to culture and her importance to me
Her importance to culture is pretty easy to define; she stood as a light in the darkness and paved the way for other incredibly important acts for years to come. Let us not forget she got her artistic start in an era even more hostile to to the idea of strong female artists than the one we're in now.
As an aside i'm mildly irritated when i see references to female performers in grindcore/ hardcore/ death metal etc reduced to things like "greatest female vocals on a hardcore record ever", as if "female vocals" is somehow a genre in and of itself outside of weird decaying second hand record shops where you'll still find Bolt Thrower in the Rock and Pop section. Or when gender is commented on when it isn't even necessary for a description.
Because to me Poly Styrene was one of the greatest vocalists full stop, not greatest female vocalists or greatest punk vocalists (or "greatest female punk vocalists from kent with Somlian heritage that only released one LP in their original incarnation in the late 1970s").
If i had a daughter i would be far more comfortable with her listening to Oh Bondage Up Yours than Beyonce's anthem to female un-emancipation, Single Ladies.
On a personal level (aside from just being really into X Ray Spex in a huge way), in a time past, when the contents of my mind were not always as well ordered as i'd have liked them to be, the song Plastic Bag meant a lot to me.
"My mind is like a switchboard
With crossed and tangled lines
Contented with confusion
That is plugged into my head
I don't know what's going on
It's the operator's job, not mine
Poly Styrene was diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder at age 34 after living with a wrong diagnosis of schizophrenia for several years.
Poly Styrene died yesterday from breast cancer.