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Ms. Poly Styrene Of X-Ray Spex Is Finally Getting Her Due 

Written by on July 13, 2022

Story by Chuck Tackett

Ms. Poly Styrene Of X-Ray Spex Is Finally Getting Her Due 

“When you look in the mirror, do you see yourself? Do you see yourself? On the TV screen, do you see yourself? In the magazine when you see yourself, does it make you want to scream?” – (Identity) by X-Ray Spex

 This article is dedicated to my friend Robert Moore. Robert is a deejay at Kansas City Missouri’s 90.9FM The Bridge. 90.9FM is a listener-supported non-commercial NPR music radio station. His show is titled “Sonic Spectrum.” It is on Saturday evenings from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm Central Time. One does not have to reside in Kansas City if you wish to check out Sonic Spectrum. You can hear it live streaming by googling 90.9FM The Bridge and pressing “Listen Live.”

On July 2, I was listening to Robert. During the second hour of his show, he focused on songs of freedom, oppression & revolution. He played this one song that is considered to be a feminist anthem. It was titled “Oh Bondage! Up Yours” by X-Ray Spex. All during the next week, that song stayed in my head.

On Friday, July 8, I didn’t have to run any errands, so I decided to see if there was a video to that song. Since it was from 1978, there was. Imagine my surprise when I observed that the lead singer of this British punk rock group was a Black woman. I never knew of any Black women singing punk. I loved it!!

The lead singer of X-Ray Spex is Poly Styrene. I learned that around February 2022, it was announced that a 2021 documentary was made regarding her life. It is titled “Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliche.” I found out it was played on Showtime. You can see the documentary now on the Showtime Anytime App if you are interested in knowing more about her. 

I will tell you that unfortunately, Ms. Styrene passed away at the age of 53 on April 25, 2011. She had metastatic breast cancer. If a biopic is ever made about her life, I think actress Ruth Negga would be perfect to portray her. Ms. Negga is also the narrator of her documentary, along with Ms. Neneh Cherry, known for her hit “Buffalo Stance,” as one of the people being interviewed regarding Ms. Styrene.

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