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Punk legend Poly Styrene of the X-Ray Spex has died at 53

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Poly Styrene
Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Poly Styrene, a fierce icon of first-wave British punk and early feminism—she was half Somalian, a teenage runaway who wore braces and howled one of the most infamous song intros ever: “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard/But i think … oh bondage, up yours!“—has died at age 53, after a long battle with breast cancer.

Anyone raised on the riot grrl credos of Sleater Kinney, Babes in Toyland, and Bikini Kill owes some debt to Styrene, born Marianne Elliot Said, and her co-ed proto-punk outfit X-Ray Spex.

The band only released two studio albums over the course of two decades—1978’s seminal Germ Free Adolescents and their 1995 return Conscious Consumer—but had a lasting impact on the underground scene, even as Styrene went on to forge her own quieter solo path with the release of 1980’s Translucent.

Watch Styrene tell her own story, after the jump:

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