I first started hearing the news on Monday afternoon. Of course I refused to believe it. Too many Deaths as of late, and it's even harder to accept when it's someone you admired but hardly knew. The only source cited was some Facebook page, with a posting on there from 'a friend of the Family', who was reporting that Poly Styrene, the boisterous, animated lead singer of X-Ray Spex, had slipped into a coma and passed away. The story spread like wildfire, and I was countering everyone's R.I.P. comments by saying that nothing official was said, no one but the O.C. Weekly was confirming it, and I was pulling for a Chuck Biscuits style of Internet rumor mongering. I kept watch on the clock, figuring that at 9 am U.K. time that we would hear the news, for better or for worse and, unfortunately, it turned out to be true. Very fucking true. Poly Styrene, the cutest lead singer in all of Punk Rock, had passed away at the age of 53. The world was no longer day-glo.
I only saw X-Ray Spex once, during a reunion gig in the 90's, at Bogart's (or was it Night Moves) in Long Beach. The turnout was piss poor, and the band was touring behind an album that nobody wanted to hear a thing from. All we wanted to hear was everything from Germ Free Adolescence, and after a bit that's exactly what they gave us. Some songs were better played than others, of course, but there was no mistaking that Poly was dead spot on that night, nailing songs like I'm A Cliche, The Day The World Turned Day-Glo, Obsessed With You and Art-I-Ficial with the greatest of ease, sending the hairs on the back of my neck standing straight up when she barked out the opening line of Oh Bondage, Up Yours! It was a fucking magical night, and hanging out with her and the band afterwords while people were having them sign anything and everything they presented them with, telling them just how much they loved the band, and just seeing the looks of Joy and Appreciation on peoples faces after finally seeing a band play that obviously meant so much to them, was just beautiful. Poly took her time talking to everyone, thanking them over and over again with the utmost sincerity and appreciation - no rockstar bullshit posturing with her. She really meant it, and that's something Ill never forget. "You must get this a lot." I told her, and she said she did, and that she was extremely thankful that something she had been a part of had such an affect on so many people. Just a fucking class act all the way around, and the world is a little less colorful with her passing. This fucking sucks. God's speed Poly Styrene, and get some much needed rest. You deserve and earned it. You will be missed.