While goth culture has never fully disappeared, it certainly is under a spotlight right now, with the growing popularity of Netflix’s series Wednesday, starring Jenna Ortega. For her role as Wednesday Addams, Ortega choreographed a dance that would end up going viral on TikTok. When asked about how she came up with the dance, Ortega stated she pulled inspiration from videos of goth kids in clubs from the ‘80s, and pointed toward music legends such as The Cramps, New-wave singer Lene Lovich, and queen of the night, Siouxsie Sioux.
Siouxsie Sioux, born in 1957 in London, England as Susan Janet Ballion, is best known for her gothic-rock/post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees. The group rose to fame during the historical UK punk movement in the late 1970s, and went on to become one of the most successful bands that originated in that era. According to journalist Kris Needs, Siouxsie and the Banshees can be described as “Fearlessly experimental but boasting an uncanny pop sensibility, their 20-year reign would see them invent goth while regularly enlivening the charts with edgy, classic singles.”
While many within the goth subculture debate who it was that actually “invented” what we now know as goth, there is no question that Siouxsie and the Banshees created a lasting impact with their quintessential hits such as “Spellbound,” “Halloween,” and “Peek-a-Boo.” The group even broke into top 40 radio with singles such as “Dear Prudence” (a cover of The Beatles song) and “Hong Kong Garden,” which reached number 7 on the UK singles chart in 1978.
Siouxsie Sioux and friend and future Banshees bassist Stephen Severin bonded over their love of the band Sex Pistols. They were loyal fans and followed the band on tour, and were even part of what is now known as Bromley Contingent, a group of punk young adults who were devoted to the Pistols. Their membership in this group would lead to the formation of Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1976 with help from Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren.
Siouxsie and the Banshees was not the only creative project of Sioux’s, as she and Banshees drummer (and former husband) Budgie also worked together to form the band The Creatures, which began as a side project and then blossomed into a full-time gig after The Banshees officially dissolved in 1996. Siouxsie Sioux has also put out some incredible solo work, ranging from haunting mid-tempo hits like “Love Crime”, to more grungy, rock-centric songs such as “Into a Swan.”
Siouxsie’s easily recognizable look has served as inspiration for goths everywhere. She can most often be seen wearing fishnets, leather, spiked jewelry, and wearing her hair in a spiky updo. Her iconic dark eye makeup pattern has become a recognizable image among goths and in pop culture as a whole, appearing on T-shirts, stickers, patches, and album covers. Sioux stated this in a 2005 interview on her iconic fashion, “I think it was probably one of the first looks and attitudes to come along to empower women, and I know I felt so powerful and strong walking out in the street. Nothing frightened me.” In this same interview, Siouxsie expressed her love for “Vivienne and Malcolm’s shop” in reference to the fashion shop owned by Malcolm McLaren and the late legendary punk fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.
Siouxsie’s success as a musician was no easy feat, as the music industry was not ready to accept women as global superstars who didn’t fit into a certain mold. According to Sioux, “The industry found it totally unacceptable that women could run around looking and sounding like that and with that attitude.”
And now, the moment that goths and punks have been waiting for for a decade has finally arrived– Siouxsie Sioux is back! After not performing since Yoko Ono’s Meltdown Festival in 2013, Siouxsie and the Banshees have just announced a European tour in addition to a stop in the US. Siouxsie will be headlining Cruel World Festival on May 20th in Pasadena, CA along with Iggy Pop. More information on Siouxsie’s tour dates and how to buy tickets can be found here.
Siouxsie and the Banshees also released their ninth compilation album, All Souls, in October of 2022. The album includes some of The Banshees greatest hits that also celebrate the fall season. We’re hoping this means we may also be getting a Siouxsie and the Banshees full reunion tour soon!
Regardless, we’re happy to see Siouxsie reclaiming her rightful place in the moonlight where she belongs. With her mesmerizing performances, powerful lyrics, and subculture-defining looks, Siouxsie is a feminist icon, as well as a role model to all who strive to be a creative force and look amazing while doing it.
Top Photo: Siouxsie Sioux, 1980 by Mantaray100 from Wikimedia Commons