*as published in May 2021
Her look and music have influenced generations of musicians and artists. Siouxsie Sioux, the stage name of Susan Janet Ballion, has always been innovative. From the days of punk, where her looks were a reference even for the leaders of the movement to being affectionately called the “grandmother of the gothic”, with more than 40 years of career at the head of Siouxsie and The Banshees, time seems not to have passed for her. Just look at Cruella and we see how much Emma Stone‘s look is inspired by the singer.
The list of ‘inspired’ is long.
Siouxsie was born in England to a Scottish mother and Belgian father, who met in Africa and settled in the UK. The singer’s father, a bacteriologist, struggled with alcoholism for many years, marking the childhood of the youngest who, with a large age difference from her brothers (more than ten years older), isolated herself and lived more in a world of fantasy coming from the books he got from his father.
According to her, she was sexually abused when she was just nine years old but was ignored by both her parents and the police, contributing to a greater revolt against a society that would later be exposed when she joined the punk movement. Very thin for health reasons, which worsened after the death of her father, when she was 14 years old, Siouxsie spent much of her adolescence in and out of the hospital until she identified that she suffered from ulcerative colitis and had to be operated on. It was at the hospital that he saw David Bowie on TV and became interested in music and art.
The 1970s in England were very troubled economically and Siouxsie soon found herself in the midst of a cultural movement that would disrupt cultural and artistic customs. He left school at 17 and started going to London’s alternative nights. There, in 1976, with her then-boyfriend Steve Severin, she went to see a show by the Sex Pistols, which had been the talk of London since the previous year. It was a meeting of souls. Siouxsie and Severin started to follow the band in every show, becoming friends with the musicians. Soon the group caught the attention of the press and they were called Bromley Contingent (this will all appear in the series Pistol, which is being recorded by Danny Boyle and which will tell the story of the band).
Siouxsie was already something of an influencer even before she took to the stage. Her look and makeup, completely original with painted cat eyes, very black and red lipstick, dyed black hair, and torn clothes began to be imitated. Soon she and Severin, right in the punk mood, decided to start their own band.
It was the same Malcolm McClaren who was taking care of the Pistols who gave the band the first opportunity, christened Siouxsie (which calls itself ‘Suzy,’ the singer’s nickname) and the Banshees. They debuted in September 1976, improvising 20 songs. They soon stood out, not least because there were very few female vocalists. His confidence and his looks immediately pleased him. Soon they were opening shows for the Sex Pistols and, indirectly, helped create the musicians’ rebellious fame. When on a TV show the presenter abused Siouxsie verbally, suggesting wanting to meet her after the show, guitarist Steve Jones defended her by cursing the presenter – live – on TV. It was a scandal that “helped” bring the Pistols notoriety but alienated Siouxsie, who didn’t want to be involved with the stories of any band other than her own.
In 1977, they released their first album and began playing radio, with critics praising The Scream as one of the best debuts by a new band. In 1980, guitarist John McGeogh joined the group, changing part of the group’s sound, which was consolidated with the arrival of drummer Budgie. From 1981 to the 2000s, there were sequences of hits and shows around the world, including Brazil (in 1987). John left the group in 1982, being quickly replaced by Robert Smith of The Cure.
The musicians’ personal lives interfered a lot with the band’s trajectory. Steve and Siouxsie were already separated when they started the group, but Budgie’s entry created conflict, especially after Siouxsie fell in love with him and got married. She and her husband created the more experimental band The Creatures, and Steve became increasingly dissatisfied.
In 1992, Siouxsie and the Banshees signed the Batman Returns song with the beautiful Face to Face, but just three years later they announced their separation, with Budgie and Siouxsie following with The Creatures.
In 2004 Siouxsie toured solo for the first time and, three years later, recorded the album Mantaray, the same year she divorced Budgie. Since then, she has been doing shows alone. In 2015, he accepted to do an original composition to end the Hannibal series. Love Crime was her first single in eight years.
The singer lives near Toulouse, France, with her cats. In Pistol she will be played by actress Beth Dillon.
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