She began her career in Edinburgh in the early 1980s, most notably performing backing vocals and keyboards for local band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie before fronting side-project Angelfish while signed as a solo artist. Having seen Manson in an Angelfish video on MTV, Garbage invited Manson to record with them as the band's lead singer.
With Garbage on hiatus after four successful studio albums, one greatest hits compilation and over 14 million record sales, Manson will embark on a solo career and release her own record, Shirley Manson, in 2008.
Shirley Manson has been cast on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as series regular Catherine Weaver, the CEO of a major technology company, and also an antagonist terminator, for the second season. She also sings the Blind Willie Johnson song heard in the opening scene of "Samson and Delilah", the first episode of that season.
Shirley Manson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1966 to John and Muriel Manson, a geneticist and former big band singer respectively. She was named after an aunt who was named after Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley. She was born middle-child between older sister Lindy-Jayne and younger sister Sarah, and was brought up in the Stockbridge area of the city. Manson learned to play the piano at age seven, and later attended the City of Edinburgh Music School, the music department of Broughton High. She also was a Brownie and was a member of the Girl Guides.
While at Broughton, Manson became an active member of its drama group, acting in plays such as The American Dream and The Wizard of Oz. Manson was bullied and beaten up due to her red hair and large eyes. She suffered from depression as a teenager and engaged in self-injury: she carried a sharp object in the laces of her boots and cut herself when she felt stress, depression, or anxiety.
Manson was bullied until she associated herself with a rebel crowd, and played truant for most of her final year at school. She also began to experiment with drugs: she smoked cannabis and sniffed glue, drank, shoplifted, and once broke into the Edinburgh Zoo. Manson's first job was volunteer work in a local hospital's cafeteria, then as a breakfast waitress at a local hotel before spending five years as a shop assistant for Miss Selfridge, beginning on the make-up counter. Manson was eventually moved into stockrooms for her attitude to customers. Despite her own feelings towards her look, Manson also briefly modeled clothing for Jackie magazine.
Manson became a regular on Edinburgh's clubbing scene, and, equipped with free samples from Miss Selfridge, was well known as the hair stylist for a number of local bands. She sang with The Wild Indians and performed backing vocals with Autumn 1984, but had moved on by the time either act put out any work.
Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie's distributor, MCA Records, expressed interest in putting out a record with Manson and signed her in February 1993 as a solo artist to circumvent the Mackenzie's existing deal (though MCA kept several members of the band as backing musicians). Her solo contract obligated Manson to deliver at least one album and, at the sole option of Radioactive, up to six additional albums.
The band's debut album Garbage was released in August 1995, and went on to sell over 4 million copies, buoyed by a run of high charting singles including "Only Happy When It Rains" and "Stupid Girl". Manson quickly became the public face of the band over the course of a tour that took the band through to the end of 1996.
Manson became the band's chief song-writer for the follow up record Version 2.0 which equaled the success of the band's debut record after its May 1998 release. During the two year tour in support of the record, Manson modeled for Calvin Klein and the group recorded the theme song to James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough, becoming the third Scotswoman to sing a Bond theme after Lulu and Sheena Easton.
For the recording of Garbage's third record throughout 2000, Manson became one of the first high-profile artists to write a blog online, while she decided to improve her guitar playing for the band's next tour. Their third album, beautifulgarbage, featured Manson's most forward and personal lyrics to date. The album did not sell as well as its predecessors, but Garbage performed a successful world tour in support of it.
Manson's lyrics became more overtly political for Garbage's fourth record, 2005's Bleed Like Me, which after the surprise success of lead-in single "Why Do You Love Me", posted some of the band's highest chart positions upon release. Garbage began an extended hiatus in October 2005.
Garbage reformed to play a tribute show in 2007, as well as record some new tracks for greatest hits album Absolute Garbage. Vig has said the band may reform in 2008, with the goal of recording a fifth album.
Throughout 2006 and 2007, Manson has kept busy recording a solo record, collaborating with songwriter Paul Buchanan, US rock musicians Jack White, Billy Corgan and Beck, producer and keyboardist Greg Kurstin and James Bond soundtrack composer David Arnold. Garbage drummer and former Nirvana/Smashing Pumpkins producer Butch Vig is also co-writing and producing for her album which was due for release on 27 May 2008.
During this time Manson has also worked with Eric Avery on a duet for his debut album, with Debbie Harry on a duet, and also played a dominatrix in the promotional video for She Wants Revenge's single "These Things".
Recently, Shirley expressed to an interviewer during her charity event in Scotland for MAC Viva Glam that she was ready to release the album. The execs at Warner heard them and declared it to be too "noir" for them, which she mistakenly took as a compliment. She is still at work for her solo debut which will be coming out later on this year.
Angelfish (lead vocals and guitar)
Garbage (songwriter, lead vocals, and guitar)
In 2002, electronic group West London Deep sampled Manson's vocal from "You Look So Fine" in their white label track "You're Taking Me Over". Manson refused clearance for the sample and the track was scrapped. By that point the track, and remixes by Inner City, Problem Kids and Desyn Masiello & Leon Roberts had already been circulated. The song was reworked and re-released the following year as "Gonna Make You My Lover", without Manson's vocal.
In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Manson plays both CEO Catherine Weaver and also a new type of terminator sent by SkyNet, T-1001, who hunts for the Connor family. She cites actress Glenn Close and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as influences.
In 2002, Manson became an ambassador for the M•A•C AIDS Fund, fronting a two-year campaign alongside Elton John and Mary J. Blige, beginning with the launch of the VIVAMAC IV lipstick, in which all proceeds of the sale of the lipstick goes to charity. In 2007 the campaign had raised over $100 million U.S. dollars, and as a former ambassador for the campaign, Manson was allowed to present $100,000 to a charity of her choice. She donated it to Waverley Care.
Shirley Manson was made patron of Edinburgh-based HIV charity Waverley Care in 2002. She hosted a fund raiser auction on January 4, 2004 at Edinburgh's Prestonfield House which raised £45,000, including the sale of a Fender guitar owned by Manson, which itself raised £1,050. Manson accepted a cheque for £51,000 on behalf of Waverley Care from the M•A•C AIDS Fund on April 10, 2008 at Harvey Nichols Edinburgh store.
In 2007, Manson fronted a poster campaign for PETA, holding the carcass of a fox under the headline "Here’s the rest of your fur coat". PETA Europe approached Manson to front the campaign, which included heavy use in Edinburgh, her home town, Manson stated "I felt like I had a chance to add my voice to the dissent against the way animals can be treated all over the world by all persons."
"Being in a band is like trying to cheat death. We are all trying to be Peter Pan"; Garbage singer Shirley Manson strikes a chord with anyone who likes their rock stars smart and outspoken. So why is she thinking of jacking it all in?
Mar 03, 2002; SHIRLEY Manson is wearing tight blue jeans and a vintage-looking lace top, which is to say that she is not wearing a racoon penis...