A performer whose enigmatic and experimental work reflected the strong influence of biblical mysticism and Middle Eastern musical textures, Danielle Dax was born in Southend, England. She made her musical debut in 1979 as the keyboardist in the seven-piece Amy Turtle & the Crossroads; the group disbanded after only one performance, but it brought Dax -- who took to the stage clad in nothing more than a knit cap and lab coat -- to the attention of Karl Blake, who asked her to design the cover for an EP by his Surrey University-based band the Lemon Kittens. Within a week, Dax was a full member of the group; neither she nor Blake actually played music, but they managed to release two highly experimental LPs, 1980's We Buy a Hammer for Daddy and 1982's The Big Dentist, while also establishing a reputation for their notorious live sets, in which they frequently performed sans clothes.
Upon the Lemon Kittens' 1982 split, Blake formed the Shock-Headed Peters, while Dax mounted a solo career. She debuted a year later with Pop-Eyes, a true solo effort for which she wrote and performed every song alone, even handling mixing and production duties and distributing the record through her own Awesome label. While her heavy makeup and colossal hair aligned her with the thriving "Batcave" scene, she steadfastly avoided easy pigeonholing, even making the leap into film with appearances in Neil Jordan's adult fable The Company of Wolves; she also appeared in Chimera, a film by Holly Woodlawn, the photographer whose work adorned many of Dax's record covers. After reuniting with Karl Blake, Dax returned in 1984 with the Jesus Egg That Wept EP, which also featured the first appearance of guitarist/keyboardist David Knight, who subsequently became a frequent collaborator.
After recruiting a live band, Dax emerged as a significant concert draw; a series of singles including 1985's "Yummer Yummer Man," 1986's "Where the Flies Are," 1988's "Cat-House," and 1989's "White Knuckle Ride" -- each slightly more commercial than the last -- also established her as a force on the independent charts, and after the success of 1987's Inky Bloaters LP, she signed to Sire. After 1988's Dark Adapted Eye, a compilation of previous work, she resurfaced in 1990 with Blast the Human Flower, an attempt at mainstream success heralded by a misguided cover of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." When the record bombed, Dax and Sire went their separate ways, and she spent the next several years in seclusion, returning only in 1995 with a new label, Biter of Thorpe, and a new EP, Timber Tongue. ~ Jason Ankeny