My mum, the punk pioneer: Poly Styrene’s daughter remembers the X-Ray Spex leader
Six years since her death, the punk singer remains hugely influential. Her daughter reflects on learning ‘the family business’, how fame nearly broke her mother – and why she’s making a film of her life

“Even when I was really young, I knew what my mum did for a living. She was always working on something: writing music, recording, doing interviews. As I got older, she’d tell me about the punk movement, about the musicians she knew and what it was all about.

Then, when I was 10 or 11, she reconnected with X-Ray Spex and started work on what would become the Conscious Consumer album. Soon after, she had her first website and she started being more in touch with fans. I began to realise just how many fans she had, and how worldwide her support was.

When I turned 15 she gave me a copy of Germfree Adolescents, and I started to understand what a great writer she was. I’d grown up listening to hip-hop and music like that of Rage Against the Machine – which, in the way of all parents, she didn’t approve of, as she told me it would encourage bad behaviour!”

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“After watching a very early gig by the Sex Pistols in an empty hall on Hastings Pier, playing a set of cover songs, she thought that anyone could do what they were doing and so decided to put an ad in the paper for ‘young punx who want to stick it together’ to form a band. So it was from that, she went as singer with X-Ray Spex, Poly Styrene, a name she chose from the 'Yellow Pages’ when she was 'looking for a name of the time, something plastic.’

She was described by Billboard as the “archetype for the modern-day feminist punk”; because she wore dental braces, stood against the typical sex object female of 1970s rock star, sported a gaudy Dayglo wardrobe, and was of mixed race. She was “one of the least conventional front-persons in rock history, male or female”. They launched their debut single in 1977.“