Siouxsie and the Banshees were an English rock band, formed in London in 1976 by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bass guitarist Steven Severin. They have been widely influential, both over their contemporaries and with later acts. Mojo rated guitarist John McGeoch in their list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" for his work on "Spellbound". The Times cited the group as "one of the most audacious and uncompromising musical adventurers of the post-punk era".
Initially associated with the punk scene, the band rapidly evolved to create "a form of post-punk discord full of daring rhythmic and sonic experimentation". Their debut album The Scream was released in 1978 to critical acclaim. In 1980, they changed their musical direction and became "almost a different band" with Kaleidoscope, which peaked at number 5 in the UK Albums Chart. With Juju (1981) which also reached the top 10, they became an influence on the emerging gothic scene. In 1988, the band made a breakthrough in North America with the multifaceted album Peepshow, which received critical praise. With substantial support from alternative rock radio stations, they achieved a mainstream hit in the US in 1991 with the single "Kiss Them for Me".
During their career, Siouxsie and the Banshees released 11 studio albums and 30 singles. The band experienced several line-up changes, with Siouxsie and Severin being the only constant members. They 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.
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. From February 1976, Siouxsie, Severin and some friends began to follow an unsigned band, the Sex Pistols. Journalist Caroline Coon dubbed them the "Bromley Contingent", as most of them came from the Bromley region of South London, 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". They were all inspired by the Sex Pistols and their uncompromising attitude. When they learned that one of the bands scheduled to play the 100 Club Punk Festival, organised by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, were pulling out from the bill at the last minute, Siouxsie suggested that she and Severin play, even though they had no band name or additional members. 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 guitar and John Simon Ritchie (already commonly known as Sid Vicious) on drums, their set consisted of a 20-minute improvisation based on "The Lord's Prayer".
While the band intended to split up after the gig, they were asked to play again. Two months later, Siouxsie and Severin recruited drummer Kenny Morris and guitarist Peter Fenton. After playing several gigs in early 1977, they realised that Fenton did not fit in because he was "a real rock guitarist". John McKay finally took his place in July. Their first live appearance on television took place in November on Manchester's Granada, on Tony Wilson's TV show So It Goes. They then recorded their first John Peel session for BBC radio and appeared on the front cover of UK weekly Sounds magazine the following month.
While the band sold out venues in London in early 1978, they still had problems getting the right recording contract that could give them "complete artistic control". Polydor finally offered this guarantee and signed them in June. Their first single, "Hong Kong Garden", featuring a xylophone motif, reached the top 10 in the UK shortly after. A NME review 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".
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".