Poly Styrene – an optimist to the last

Even while battling cancer in a hospice, the former X-Ray Spex singer was talking about writing new songs and fighting cynicism. Here was a pop star who truly made a difference

The internet is already melting with the warmth and love extended towards Poly Styrene, who died yesterday after a brave battle with breast cancer. As the singer with X-Ray Spex, her songs such as Germ Free Adolescents and The Day the World Turned Day-Glo were among the most memorable of the punk era.

Born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, she was also a feminist and "misfit superstar" who paved the way for everyone from Kim Gordon to Karen O. Beth Ditto credits her with "shaping my identity" and her fans include Boy George and David Baddiel. But for generations of followers, the unassuming singer was more than an icon: she was someone who felt like one of us, and who will be mourned like an absent friend.

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