December 4, 2023

The 70s 80s 90s Blog

Three Decades of History with TV historian Tony McMahon

Toyah – the tail end of punk

2 min read
Tony McMahon never quite got Toyah and among punk female singers preferred X Ray Spex and Siouxsie Sioux but she was successful

It’s a funny old thing – but looking back over my copies of the NME, Sounds, Smash Hits, Melody Maker, etc, etc….up pops post punk songstress Toyah.  All the bleedin’ time.  As late as April 1983, No 1 magazine is telling us that Toyah has released ONLY two singles that year – The Vow and Rebel Run and ONLY one album – Love is the Law.   Can’t say I remember a single note from these songs or that august album.

In 1983, she also acted for six months in a “wrestling play” called Trafford Tanzi – and, her people pointed out, she acted in it for every night for six months unlike that Debbie Harry who only lasted two weeks in the US version.  Hmmm….I’m with Debbie Harry.  Maybe she just had better things to do.

Toyah, for her part, was her usual bubbly self:  “1983 was a very good year for me, a very busy year, with Tanzi and everything.  I found it enjoyable but not my best year to date – I’m hoping 1984 will be.”

She then went on to say that it was very good that Maggie Thatcher had got re-elected and it was going to take time for her policies to work.  However, Toyah didn’t think Thatcher would win the next election.  Wrong on both counts then.

Toyah then announced that she’d been having a go at bodypopping.  But unfortunately “my physique’s a bit wrong”.

You’re probably guessing I wasn’t a huge fan. Among female punk icons, I worshipped at the altars of Siouxsie Sioux and Poly Styrene of X Ray Spex. These to me were the real deal and astonishing, innovative performers. Didn’t quite feel the same about Toyah. But hey, millions did.

The irrepressible Toyah went on to marry Robert Fripp – the guiding force behind King Crimson – a band I practically venerated in the late 1970s.

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