Siouxsie, nee Susan Janet Ballion, is one of the most influential rock singers to come out of the punk years and carved a path into the post-punk scene, becoming a visual and sonic influence on deathrock and the later Goth.
As a child, she survived several major shocks. Her father wasn't a protective, nurturing parent but a serious alcoholic who died when she was 14. For years she had never brought friends around to her house because she was disillusioned and ashamed of the drunken man occupying her house. More damagingly, she and a friend were seriously sexually assaulted when she was 9, which her parents downplayed, ignored, and simply tried to "stiff upper lip" under the carpet.
The fantasy world which she'd occupied as a child who felt isolated and lonely never left her. She chose to live in it, armoring herself with a spiky-haired, cat eye'd makeup appearance and having nothing but contempt for adulthood, which she had no faith in anymore - which she associated with abrogation of responsibility and assuming a fake, banal shell.
Eventually she left school and started hanging around various gay clubs and soon fell in with the Sex Pistols, as part of their "entourage". She sported a swastika armband, just as Sid Vicious had worn a swastika T-shirt - not because of any Nazi ideology or white power interest but purely for shock value. An interview by Bill Grundy launched the Pistols to a sort of anti-hero infamy when a drunken Pistol took great exception to an exchange betwen Grundy and Sioux.
Having basically tried and failed to get anything meaningful except for expletives and snark from the band itself, he turned his attention to the girls in the entourage, and when Siouxsie sarcastically remarked something to the effect of "Well, I've always wanted to meet you" the drunken interviewer made a lecherous joke about meeting him in his dressing room after, which evoked an eyeroll from Siouxsie, but a tirade of expletives and anger from band member Steve Jones. Perhaps they knew about her background and just defended her in a tirade of abuse, but it seemed out of left field to the audience at home led to pages and pages and pages of news coverage of them all in the tabloid and gutter press, which Siouxsie eventually backed away from as she was uninterested in their cliches.
She started her own band, melding her excellent voice to a flanged and sonorous bass, thudding drums, and a kind of ethereal, chorused delayed and overdriven guitar. Her songs pulled few punches, excoriating the misogyny she saw in Arab culture (Arabian Nights), the violence in the Middle East (Israel). She redid the Lennon/McCartney song "Dear Prudence", but in her voice the song took on a dark quality - why in the hell was it so important to some guy that a girl come out of her shell, come outside and smile for everyone? Uninterested in being wedded to a specific sound, she went from early Cure sounding (Hong Kong garden) to the poppish "Kiss Them For Me", to sound described as a "oriental marching band".
Regardless of the sound she would work with, whether it was with The Banshees or The Creatures, she never lost that mess of spiky black hair, which inspired generations of alternative-Gothy kids, various movies, and the comic Sandman. She also maintained her favorite themes: damage, mental illness, sexual abuse, depraved urges and other "dark" motifs.
Nor did she ever lose the armored poise, the self-assurance, the take-no-prisoners persona that found strength in exploring the lifetime effects of her own miserable childhood. In a world dominated by spitting spiky haired men, she bridged angry punk energy with a rich musical vein that would be heard in many acts that came after her.
She is most certainly an icon. Not a pop icon, like Lady Gaga or Madonna, but unlike those two - who basically repackaged other subcultures for profit - she was a genuine, trailblazing and positively unfuckwithable presence that has drawn diverse like minded people to her like a moth to a flame for at least three decades, with no signs of slowing down.