The Independent (6.17.05)



Siouxsie Sioux has resisted the label for 30 years, but last night the singer who put the feminine in punk was named Mojo's icon of the year. Beating off competition from David Bowie, John Lydon, Marc Bolan and the Ramones, Sioux was presented with her award by U2's The Edge.

The Mojo awards, launched last year to recognise the elder statesmen " and women " of the music industry, also handed prizes to Paul Weller, named best songwriter, Gang of Four and Madness, winned their first music award.

Voted for by Mojo readers, Sioux's award celebrated a career that has spanned nearly three decades. Inspired by the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees played for the first time at a punk festival organised by Malcom McLaren at the 100 Club in London in September 1976, where Sioux infamously read aloud the Lord's Prayer for 20 minutes.

Her distinctive black-haired, black-eyed looks quickly spawned imitators, and the Banshees continued to perform for 20 years, until Sioux folded the band 'with dignity' in 1996.

Sioux returned to the 100 Club last year, before fulfilling her dream of performing live with a classical orchestra in Dreamshow at the Royal Festival Hall in October. Phil Alexander, the editor of Mojo, said: 'She would hate to be considered an icon, because, in her words, icons are often dead. She gave punk a feminine face and has grown old with an amazing amount of grace. At the 100 Club last year she played a full-on punkoid set.'

Weller " described by Noel Gallagher in Mojo a few months ago as 'the man' " was named songwriter of the year, beating The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Van Morrison, Kate Bush and Damien Rice to the award.

'The thing about Paul Weller is he has really grown up in the last 30 years,' Mr Alexander said. 'His early songs with The Jam were fiery, but not particularly skillful. To split from The Jam at the height of his powers and embark on the Style Council took a lot of courage. Some of the songs he has written have become absolutely classic tunes. 'You're the Best Thing' is an immortal song.'

One of the evening's surprises was the punk/new wave band Gang of Four triumphing over the Pixies, Tom Waits, Morrissey and Neil Young in the readers' vote to win the Inspiration award.

Mr Alexander said: 'It will surprise a number of people, but the Gang of Four were touring about the time of the vote. History has shown them to be incredibly ahead of their time. Their music has had an impact on bands from REM and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to The Futureheads. In the last two years, the whole world has gone a bit Gang of Four.'

Madness, often dismissed as the cheeky chappies of 1980s pop, finally received recognition, with the Mojo Hall of Fame award, which was presented to them by one of their younger admirers, the rapper Dizzee Rascal.

'They are one of the most under-rated acts of the last 30 years,' the magazine's editor said. 'If you were to play every hit single they had back-to-back in any pub in Britain, people would sing along to all the tunes.'

The category of best new act, included to add a slightly more contemporary feel to a ceremony packed with old-timers, was won by The Magic Numbers.

The Pogues' Rum, Sodomy and The Lash was named the classic album of the year.

* Icon award " Siouxsie Sioux

* Inspiration award " Gang of Four

* Songwriter award " Paul Weller

* Hall of fame " Madness

* Best new act " The Magic Numbers

* Classic album " The Pogues' Rum, Sodomy and The Lash

* Merit award " Sly and Robbie

* Hero award " Roy Harper

* Lifetime achievement award " Robert Wyatt

* Legend award " Dr Jon

* Maverick award " Steve Earle

* Image award " Jim Marshall

* Roots award " Chris Hillman

Contributed by Jerry Burch.

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