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Siouxsie and the Banshees

Sioux group stare

London, England, UK
Founded on:
Breakup on:
The Scream (1978), Join Hands (1979), Kaleidoscope (1980), Juju (1981), A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982), Hyæna (1984),Tinderbox (1986), Through the Looking Glass (1987), Peepshow (1988),Superstition (1991), The Rapture (1995)
These were not permanent members of the band, or were in the band for a short time.

Siouxsie and the Banshees were a English alternative rock band formed in 1976 by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bassist Steven Severin. Initially associated with the English punk rock scene, the band rapidly evolved to create "a form of Post-punk discord full of daring rhythmic and sonic experimentation".[1] The Times cited Siouxsie and the Banshees as "one of the most audacious and uncompromising musical adventurers of the post-punk era."[2]

The group also became inspirational in the creation and development of gothic rock and their music also combined elements of pop and avant-garde. The Banshees disbanded in 1996, with Siouxsie and drummer Budgie continuing to record music as The Creatures, a second band they had formed in the early 1980s. In 2004, Siouxsie began a solo career.


Formation (1976–1977)Edit

Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin met at a Roxy Music concert in September 1975, at a time when Glam Rock had faded and there was nothing new coming through with which they could identify.[3] From February 1976, Sioux, Severin and some friends began to follow an unsigned band, the Sex Pistols.[4] Journalist Caroline Coon dubbed them the "Bromley Contingent", as most of them came from the Bromley region of Kent, a label Severin came to despise. "There was no such thing, it was just a bunch of people drawn together by the way they felt and they looked."[4] They were all inspired by the Sex Pistols – from watching them, they realized that anyone could do it.[5] When they learned that one of the bands scheduled to play the 100 Club Punk Festival, organized by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, pulled out from the bill at the last minute, Sioux suggested that she and Severin play, even though they had no band name or additional members.[6] Two days later, the pair appeared at the festival held in London on 20 September 1976. With two borrowed musicians at their side, Marco Pirroni on guitars and John Simon Ritchie later known as Sid Vicious on drums, their set consisted of a 20-minute improvisation based on "The Lord's Prayer".[7]

While the band intended to split up after the gig, they were asked to play again. Two months later, Sioux and Severin recruited drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist Pete Fenton.[8] After playing several gigs in early 1977, the band realized that Fenton did not fit in because he was "a real rock guitarist." John McKay finally took his seat in July.[9]

The Scream and Join Hands (1978–1979)Edit

While the band sold out venues in London in early 1978,[10] they still had problems getting the right recording contract that could give them "complete artistic control."[11] Polydor finally offered this guarantee and signed them in June. Their first single, "Hong Kong Garden" featuring a xylophone motif, reached the Top Ten in the UK shortly after. In its review, the NME hailed it as "a bright, vivid narrative, something like snapshots from the window of a speeding Japanese train, power charged by the most original, intoxicating guitar playing I heard in a long, long time."[12]

The band released their debut album, The Scream, in November 1978. Nick Kent of NME said of the record: "the band sounds like some unique hybrid of the Velvet Underground mated with much of the ingenuity of Tago Mago-era Can, if any parallel can be drawn." At the end of the article, he added this remark : "Certainly, the traditional three-piece sound has never been used in a more unorthodox fashion with such stunning results."[13]

The Banshees' second album, Join Hands, was released in 1979 and included a version of "The Lord's Prayer". In Melody Maker, Jon Savage described "Poppy Day" as "a short, powerful evocation of the Great War graveyards"[14] and Record Mirror described the whole record as "a dangerous and volatile work".[15] The Banshees embarked on a major tour to promote the album. A few dates into the tour in September, Morris and McKay left an in-store signing after an argument and quit the band.[16] In need of replacements to fulfill tour dates, the Banshees' manager called drummer Budgie, formerly with The Slits, and asked him to audition. Budgie was hired, but Sioux and Severin had no success auditioning guitarists.[17] Robert Smith of The Cure offered his services in case they couldn't find a guitarist (his group were already the support band on the tour), so the band held him to it after seeing too many "rock virtuosos."[18] The tour resumed in September and after the last concert, Smith returned to The Cure.[19]

Kaleidoscope, Juju and A Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1980–1982)Edit

File:Siouxsie sioux.jpg
Drummer Budgie became a permanent member and the band entered the studios to record the single, "Happy House" with guitarist John McGeoch, formerly of Magazine. Their third album, Kaleidoscope, released in 1980, saw the Banshees exploring new musical territories with the use of other instruments like synthesizers, sitars and drum machines. The group initially had a concept of making each song sound completely different, without regard to whether or not the material could be performed in concert.[20] Melody Maker described the result as "a kaleidoscope of sound and imagery, new forms, and content, flashing before our eyes."[21] Kaleidoscope was a commercial success, peaking at number 5 in the UK album chart. This lineup, featuring McGeoch on guitar, toured the United States for the first time in support of the album, playing their first shows in New York City in November 1980.[22]

For Juju (1981), the band had a different approach and practised the songs in concert first before recording them.[23] Juju, according to Severin, became an unintentional concept album that "drew on darker elements". Sounds hailed it as "intriguing, intense, brooding and powerfully atmospheric."[24] The album later peaked at number 7 in the UK album charts and became one of their biggest sellers.[25] McGeoch's guitars contribution on Juju would be later named and praised by Johnny Marr of The Smiths.[26][27]

During the 1981 accompanying tour, Sioux and Budgie secretly became a couple.[28] At the same time, they also began a side project called The Creatures, releasing their first EP, Wild Things.

The Banshees followed in 1982 with A Kiss in the Dreamhouse. The record, featuring strings on several numbers, was an intentional contrast to their previous work, with Severin later describing it as a "sexy album."[29] The British press greeted it enthusiastically.[30][31] Richard Cook in the NME finished his review with this sentence: "I promise. This music will take your breath away."[32] At that time, McGeoch was struggling with alcohol problems, and was hospitalized on his return to a promotional trip from Madrid. The band fired him shortly thereafter.[33] Severin asked Robert Smith to take over guitarist duties again; Smith accepted and rejoined the group in November 1982.[34]

Hyæna, Tinderbox and Through the Looking Glass (1983–1987)Edit

During 1983, the band members worked on several side projects; Sioux and Budgie composed the first Creatures album, Feast while Severin and Smith recorded as The Glove. Smith then insisted on documenting his time with the Banshees, so the group released a cover version of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" in September 1983; it became their biggest hit, reaching number 3 on the UK Singles Chart.[35] They also captured a live album, Nocturne, and completed their sixth studio album, Hyæna.[36] Shortly before its release in May 1984, Smith left the group, citing health issues due to an overloaded schedule, being in two bands at once.[37]

Ex-Clock DVA guitarist John Valentine Carruthers replaced him. The Banshees then reworked four numbers of their repertoire with a section of strings for their The Thorn EP. The NME praised the project at its release: "The power of a classical orchestra is the perfect foil for the band's grindingly insistent sounds."[38] The new Banshees lineup spent much of 1985 working on their new record, Tinderbox. The group finished the song "Cities in Dust" before the album, so they rushed its release as a single prior to their longest tour of the UK.[39] Tinderbox was finally released in April 1986. Sounds magazine noted: "Tinderbox is a refreshing slant on the Banshees' disturbing perspective and restores their vivid shades to pop's pale palette."[40] Due to the length of time spent working on Tinderbox, the group desired spontaneity and decided to record an album of cover songs, Through the Looking Glass, in 1987.[41] Mojo magazine later praised their version of "Strange Fruit".[42][43] After the album's release, the band realized Carruthers was not fitting in anymore and decided to work on new material as a trio.[44]

Peepshow (1988–1990)Edit

Following a lengthy break, the band recruited keyboard player Martin McCarrick and the ex-Specimen guitarist Jon Klein. The quintet recorded Peepshow in 1988, with non-traditional rock instrumentation including cello and accordion. Q magazine praised the album in its five-star review: "Peepshow takes place in some distorted fairground of the mind where weird and wonderful shapes loom."[45] The first single "Peek-a-Boo" looked like a "post-hip hop sound collage"[46] and was their first real breakthrough in the United States.[47] After a tour to promote the album, the band decided to take a break, with Sioux and Budgie recording a new Creatures album, Boomerang and Severin and McCarrick working on material together.[48]

Superstition, The Rapture and break-up (1991–1999)Edit

In 1991, the Banshees returned with the single, "Kiss Them for Me", mixing strings over a dance rhythm. The group collaborated with a yet unknown Asian Tabla player Talvin Singh who also sang during the bridge. The single received glowing reviews and later peaked in the Billboard Hot 100 at number 23, allowing them to reach a new audience.[47] The album Superstition followed shortly afterwards and the group toured the US as second headliners of the inaugural Lollapalooza tour. The following year, the Banshees were asked to compose "Face to Face" as a single for the film Batman Returns.[49]

In 1993, The Banshees recorded new songs based on strings arrangements, but quickly stopped the sessions to play festivals abroad. On their return home, they hired former Velvet Underground member John Cale to produce the rest of the record.[50] At its release, 1995's The Rapture was described by Melody Maker as "a fascinating, transcontinental journey through danger and exotica."[51] A few weeks after its release, Polydor dropped the band from its roster[52] and Klein was replaced on the band's last tour in 1995 by ex-Psychedelic Furs guitarist Knox Chandler. In April 1996, the band finally called it a day after 20 years spent together.[53] Sioux and Budgie announced that they would carry on recording as The Creatures. In 1999, they released the album Anima Animus to critical acclaim.[54]


In 2002, Universal Music inaugurated the band's remastered back catalogue by releasing The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees. In April, Sioux, Severin, Budgie and Chandler reunited briefly for the Seven Year Itch tour which spawned the Seven Year Itch live album and DVD in 2003.

The year after, Downside Up, a box set that collected all of the band's B-sides and The Thorn EP, was released. The Times wrote in its review: "for here is a group that never filled b-sides with inferior, throwaway tracks. Rather they saw them as an outlet for some of their most radical and challenging work."[55]

In 2006, the band's first four records were remastered and compiled with previously unreleased bonus tracks. Several recordings made for the John Peel radio show from 1978 to 1986 were also put together on Voices on the Air: The Peel Sessions. Allmusic described the first session as "a fiery statement of intent" and qualified the other performances as "excellent."[56]

The second batch of remasters, concerning the 1982–1986 era, came out in April 2009. It included four other re-issues (including their highly-regarded A Kiss In The Dreamhouse from 1982).[30][32] The At The BBC box set, containing a DVD with all of the band's UK live television performances and three CDs with in-concert recordings, was also released in June of the same year.

Legacy and influenceEdit

Siouxsie and the Banshees have inspired many musicians of different genres.

The Banshees had a strong impact on two main trip hop acts.[57][58] Tricky covered the B-side "Tattoo" to open his second album Nearly God:[59] the original version of that song helped Tricky in the creation of his style.[58] Another trip hop group, Massive Attack, sampled "Metal Postcard" for the song "Superpredators", recorded prior to their Mezzanine album.[60]

The group have been cited by their peers. Morrissey said that "Siouxsie and the Banshees were excellent". "They were one of the great groups of the late 70s, early 80s".[61] He also said in 1994, "If you study modern groups, those who gain press coverage and chart action, none of them are as good as Siouxsie and the Banshees at full pelt. That's not dusty nostalgia, that's fact."[62] Another ex-member of The Smiths, Johnny Marr mentioned his liking for Banshees guitarist John McGeoch and his composition on "Spellbound". Marr qualified it as "clever" with "really good picky thing going on which is very un-rock'n'roll."[63] U2 cited Siouxsie And The Banshees as a major influence[64] and selected "Christine" for a Mojo compilation.[65] The Edge was the presenter of an award given to Siouxsie at the Mojo ceremony in 2005.[66][67] Guitarist Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction once made a parallel between his band and the Banshees: "There are so many similar threads: melody, use of sound, attitude, sex-appeal. I always saw Jane's Addiction as the masculine Siouxsie & the Banshees."[68] The Cure leader Robert Smith declared in 2003: "Siouxsie and The Banshees and Wire were the two bands I really admired. They meant something."[69] He also pinpointed what the 1979 Join Hands tour brought him musically. "On stage that first night with the Banshees, I was blown away by how powerful I felt playing that kind of music. It was so different to what we were doing with The Cure. Before that, I'd wanted us to be like The Buzzcocks or Elvis Costello, the punk Beatles. Being a Banshee really changed my attitude to what I was doing."[70]

The Banshees have been hailed by other acts. Radiohead cited John McGeoch-era Siouxsie records when mentioning the recording of the song "There There".[71] Jeff Buckley, who took inspiration in several female voices, covered "Killing Time" on various occasions.[72][73] Red Hot Chili Peppers performed "Christine" in concert[74] and their guitarist cited the Banshees in interviews.[75] Garbage's singer, Shirley Manson, wrote in the foreword to Paytress' Banshees biography, "I learned how to sing listening to The Scream and Kaleidoscope. Today, I can see and hear the Banshees' influence all over the place."[76][77] Siouxsie has also been praised by various female singers including PJ Harvey[78] and Ana Matronic of Scissor Sisters.[79]

The Banshees continue to influence younger musicians. Singer James Murphy was marked by certain Banshees albums during his childhood.[80] His band LCD Soundsystem covered "Slowdive" as a B-side to the single "Disco Infiltrator".[81] The Beta Band sampled "Painted Bird" on their track "Liquid Bird" from the Heroes to Zeros album.[82] American group TV on the Radio explained that they always tried to make a song that begins like "Kiss Them for Me" where all of a sudden, there's an "element of surprise" with "a giant drum coming in".[83] Electronica singer Santigold based one of her songs on the music of "Red Light". "'My Superman' is an interpolation of 'Red Light,'" she explained.[84] Lo-fi songwriter Jeremy Jay covered "Lunar Camel" on his Airwalker EP and he cited the band amongst his main influences.[85] Indie folk group DeVotcha covered the ballad "The Last Beat of My Heart" on the suggestion of Arcade Fire singer, Win Butler; it was released on the Curse Your Little Heart EP.[86] In 2009, Gossip also named the Banshees as one of their major influences.[87]


Main article: Siouxsie and the Banshees discography


  1. Williamson, Nigel. "Siouxsie & the Banshees". The Times. 27 November 2004. "...with the Banshees she helped to invent a form of post-punk discord full of daring rhythmic and sonic experimentation".
  2. Williamson, Nigel. "Siouxsie & the Banshees". The Times. 27 November 2004. "...the Banshees stand proudly alongside PiL, Gang of Four and the Fall as the most audacious and uncompromising musical adventurers of the post-punk era."
  3. Paytress, p. 27
  4. 4.0 4.1 Johns, p.13
  5. Paytress, p. 48
  6. Paytress, p. 49
  7. Paytress, pp. 53–54
  8. Paytress, pp. 54–55
  9. Paytress, p. 57
  10. Morley, Paul. "A World Domination By 1984 Special". NME. 14 January 1978. "They hold the house record at the Vortex. They sold out The Nashville two nights running."
  11. Thrills, Adrian. "Complete Control : Siouxsie In Wonderland". NME. 24 June 1978. "If it's our material, we want to have control over what is put out, how it is put out... the packaging and God knows what else."
  12. Rambali, Paul. "Hong Kong Garden" review. NME. 19 August 1978.
  13. Kent, Nick. "Bansheed! What's In An Image?" NME. 26 August 1978.
  14. Savage, Jon. Join Hands review. Melody Maker. 1 September 1979.
  15. Join Hands review. Record Mirror. 1 September 1979.
  16. Paytress, p. 81–82
  17. Paytress, pp. 93–94
  18. Paytress, pp. 94, 95
  19. Paytress, pp. 97–98
  20. Paytress, p. 101
  21. Hewitt, Paulo. "Siouxsie’s sketches" [Kaleidoscope review]. Melody Maker. 26 July 1980.
  22. Paytress, p. 259
  23. Paytress, p.105
  24. Page, Betty. Juju review. Sounds, 27 June 1981.
  25. "Siouxsie and the Banshees Chart Stats
  26. "Johnny Marr Top Ten Guitarists". Uncut. November 2004 issue with U2 on the cover.
  27. "Johnny Marr Top Ten Guitarists". November 2004.
  28. Paytress, pp. 110–11
  29. Paytress, p. 124
  30. 30.0 30.1 Sutherland, Steve. "Awakening Dreams" [A Kiss In The Dreamhouse review]. Melody Maker. 6 November 1982. "Dreamhouse is an intoxicating achievement".
  31. Reid, Jim. A Kiss In The Dreamhouse review. Record Mirror. 6 November 1982. "This is a very fine pop record."
  32. 32.0 32.1 Cook, Richard. A Kiss In The Dreamhouse review. NME. 6 November 1982.
  33. Paytress, pp. 126–27
  34. Paytress, p. 129
  35. Paytress, pp. 137, 143
  36. Paytress, p. 134
  37. Paytress, pp. 142–43
  38. Jenkins, Mark. The Thorn review. NME. 25 October 1984.
  39. Paytress, p. 154
  40. Murphy, Kevin. "Pop's Royal Couple?". Sounds. 5 May 1986.
  41. Paytress, p. 158
  42. "Mojo for Music". Blog post mentioning CD from Mojo June 2007, issue 163 Music Is Love! 15 Tracks That Changed The World, which includes "Strange Fruit" by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Posted 13 February 2010.
  43. "Covers archive" showing Mojo June 2007, issue 163 with CD Music Is Love!. Bauer.
  44. Paytress, pp. 162–63
  45. Cooper, Mark. Peepshow review. Q. September 1988.
  46. Price, Simon. "Kisses in the dreamhouse: a subjective history". Melody Maker. 28 August 1993.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Siouxsie and the Banshees US charts awards
  48. Paytress, pp. 188–89
  49. Paytress, p. 208
  50. Paytress, p. 216
  51. Unsworth, Cathi. "Baby, Come back". Melody Maker. 14 January 1995.
  52. Paytress, p. 224
  53. "Split In The Dreamhouse". Melody Maker. 13 April 1996.
  54. Anima Animus review. The Times. 13 February 1999. "hypnotic and inventive".
  55. Williamson, Nigel. "Siouxsie & the Banshees" Downside Up review. The Times. 27 November 2004.
  56. Thompson, Dave. "Voices on the Air: The Peel Sessions' review". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
  57. Eudeline, Patrick. "Siouxsie". Rock'n'folk. October 2007.
  58. 58.0 58.1 Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Tricky" Tricky page, see under the category "Influenced by"
  59. "Cover Me" Tricky's "Tattoo" is a cover of Siouxsie & the Banshees
  60. "Massive Attack Discography. Tune Info Superpredators". Massive Attack sampled "Metal Postcard" in 1997 for their track "Superpredators" on the movie soundtrack "The jackal".
  61. Blade, Richard. "KROQ interview" Morrissey-solo. air date: 6 July 1997.
  62. Maconie, Stuart. "Hello Cruel World". Q Magazine. April 1994.
  63. Mitchell, Pete. "Spellbound : the story of John McGeoch" BBC2. February 2008. About McGeoch's contribution of the single "Spellbound", Marr states: "It's so clever. He's got this really good picky thing going on which is very un-rock'n'roll and this actual tune he's playing is really quite mysterious." Radio 2’s Pete Mitchell talks to Howard Devoto, Siouxsie Sioux and Johnny Marr among others, as he shines a light on the life of this unsung guitar hero.
  64. McCormick, Neil (ed), (2006). U2 by U2. HarperCollins Publishers, pp. 56, 58 and 96
  65. "U2 Jukebox" U2'Compilation for Mojo Magazine featuring "Christine"
  66. "Mojo Icon Award" The Creatures – Siouxsie Sioux Official Website. 17 June 2005 "Last night Siouxsie lifted the Icon Award and the Mojo Honours Awards. The award was given to her by U2's The Edge who cited Siouxsie as a big influence on Bono and U2 before handing over the Award."
  67. "Mojo Icon Award 2005" 'Mojo website. June 2005. "Siouxsie Sioux presented by The Edge"
  68. Paytress, Mark. p. 199
  69. Paytress, Interview of Robert Smith by Alexis Petridis, p. 95
  70. Paytress, Interview of Robert Smith by Alexis Petridis, p. 96
  71. "Radiohead Official Biography - Capitol Canada". Colin Greenwood remembers: "The first single we're releasing is actually the longest song on the record. ("There There"). It was all recorded live in Oxford. We all got excited at the end because Nigel was trying to get Jonny to play like John McGeoch in Siouxsie And The Banshees."
  72. "" archives Buckley's version of "Killing Time" performed at the radio WFMU Studios, East Orange, NJ, 10.11.92 "Killing Time" is a Siouxsie/The Creatures song from the Creatures's Boomerang album. Buckley also performed it in January 1995 in London at the Astoria
  73. "" list of songs covered by Jeff Buckley including "Killing Time" composed by Siouxsie for The Creatures.
  74. "" (Red Hot Chilli Peppers'site). setlist of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' concert performing "Christine" at the V2001 festival
  75. Dalley, Helen. "John Frusciante". Total Guitar. August 2002
  76. Paytress, foreword by Shirley Manson, p. 9
  77. Simpson, Dave. "Rebellious Jukebox" [Garbage's Shirley Manson reveals what rings her bell]. Melody Maker. 28 March 1998. "Siouxsie embodied everything I wanted to be when I was a freaky adolescent. She was really articulate and string; there's so much power in songs like 'Jigsaw Feeling'."
  78. "7th January 2000 PJ selects her Top 10 Albums of 1999" PJ 7 January 2000. Pj Harvey put on her website Anima Animus by The Creatures aka (Siouxsie & ex-banshee Budgie) in her top ten favourite albums of year 1999. Artist Album Title : Bonnie Prince Billy I See A Darkness, Yat-Kha Dalai Beldiri, Tricky with DJ Muggs & Grease Juxtapose, The Rachel's Selenography, Various Book Of Life Soundtrack, The Creatures Anima Animus, Guided By Voices Do The Collapse, The Black Heart Procession Eponymous, Billy Bragg & Wilco Mermaid Avenue, The Kamkars Kani Sepi
  79. Ellis, James. "Ana Matronic". Monday, 2 February 2004. Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters talked about her favourite band Siouxsie & the Banshees
  80. Pulver, Sarah. "LCD Soundsystem" Thrasher Magazine. September 2005. "My first album: I got some birthday money, went to the record store and bought Siouxsie and the Banshees' Join Hands, The Fall Grotesque, and The Birthday Party Nick the Stripper, all in one day. And all three of those records are three of my favorite things I've ever heard."
  81. Snell, Herman. "ITunes Remix Album". 27 February 2006. LCD Soundsystem included their cover of the 1982 "Slowdive" on their iTunes Remix Album
  82. Lapatine, Scott. "The Beta band". Earlash. April 2004.
  83. "Icon: Siouxsie", The Fader Magazine, "The Icon Issue 67", April/May 2010. Page 71.
  84. "Icon: Siouxsie", The Fader Magazine, The Icon Issue 67, April/May 2010. Page 73
  85. Pryor, John-Paul. "Jeremy Jay" 28 September 2009. "Splash comes from that thing of being away from somewhere and writing about it. It’s a lot heavier sounding than other stuff I’ve done – Pavement meets Evol-era Sonic Youth played by Siouxsie Sioux. I’m really excited about it."
  86. "Biography"
  87. Fitzmaurice, Larry. "Gossip Q&A" 28 April 2009. "What bands influenced the new album's sound? Everything from the Birthday Party to house music and Siouxsie and the Banshees."


  • Paytress, Mark. Siouxsie & the Banshees: The Authorised Biography. Sanctuary, 2003. ISBN 1-86074-375-7
  • Johns, Brian. Entranced : the Siouxsie and the Banshees story. Omnibus Press, 1989. ISBN 0-7119-1773-b
  • Reynolds, Simon. Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. Penguin, 2005. ISBN 0-14-303672-6

External linksEdit