Siouxsie Sioux (real name Susan Janet Ballion) grew up in Chislehurst, Kent. When punk rock hit the UK she was part of the now-legendary ‘Bromley Contingent’ – which also included Billy Idol – and became one of the scene’s most famous names – in fact it was Siouxsie who provoked Bill Grundy into getting leery on the Today show when The Sex Pistols swore on national television.
Siouxsie and the Banshees made a sensational DIY debut at the seminal 100 Club Punk Festival in 1976, with Marco Pirroni on guitar and Sid Vicious on drums. They enlivened the opening night of punk mecca, The Roxy Club, and sought to convince the industry of their potential.
Their strange cacophony inspired acclaim from the press and audiences alike. Within two months, Vicious and Pirroni were gone – Vicious to The Sex Pistols and Pirroni to play in The Motels, then with Adam & The Ants.
Seizing the moment, Siouxsie and Steven Severin formed a full-time band for a serious shot at a commercial career, recruiting drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist John McKay to their lineup.
Refusal to sign a standard recording contract meant the band was ignored by major labels, and plans to sign with Kit Lambert’s Track label fell through when Track folded.
Fenton was subsequently replaced in July 1977 by John McKay, but it was not until June 1978 that they obtained a record contract with Polydor Records, whereupon they released their first single Hong Kong Garden (which reached the Top 10 in the UK), followed in November by their first album The Scream (1978).
Right before an Aberdeen date on their 1979 UK tour, guitarist John McKay and drummer Kenny Morris left their hotel beds with the pillows upright and their tour passes clipped to them – like effigies of themselves – and disappeared into the night, never to return.
Tour support The Cure were forced to do a longer set that night, after which Siouxsie made an announcement to the crowd; “Two original members of the band are here tonight. Two art college students fucked off out of it. If you ever see them, you have my blessings to beat shit out of them”.
What began on 1980s Kaleidoscope was ramped up by Ju Ju (1981), a dazzling set rooted in Budgie’s tribal drums and McGeogh’s piercing guitar sounds. Siouxsie was feeling a tad tribal herself, prowling around with all manners of spooks, from the album’s first single Spellbound to the closing Voodoo Dolly, via the violence of Halloween and Head Cut.
These supreme pop songs influenced a thousand bands and brought kohl, lace and leather to Top Of The Pops and the high street.
The Banshees remained a viable proposition throughout the 1980s, despite Siouxsie and Budgie’s parallel venture The Creatures. The group made the UK Top 10 in 1983 with a cover version of The Beatles‘ song Dear Prudence.
Signed to Geffen in the US, Siouxsie and the boys eventually cracked the American charts in 1986 with the Tinderbox album, from which Candy Man was lifted as a single.
Through The Looking Glass (1987) was a collection of classic pop material, from which their version of Bob Dylan‘s This Wheel’s On Fire was a UK hit.
In April 1996, the band finally called it a day after 20 years spent together.