Shirley Anne Manson is a Scottish singer, songwriter, musician and actress. She is the lead singer of the alternative rock band Garbage. Before fronting Garbage, Manson played keyboards and sang back-up with Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, and performed as the lead singer of Angelfish. For much of her international career Manson commuted between her home city of Edinburgh and the United States to record with Garbage; she now lives and works in Los Angeles. Manson gained media attention for her forthright style, rebellious attitude and distinctive voice.
Shirley Manson was born on August 26, 1966 and also raised in Edinburgh, Scotland as Shirley Anne Manson to John Mitchell and Muriel Flora Manson (née MacKay) in Edinburgh. John Mitchell, a descendant from the fishing community of Northmavine, Shetland, was a university lecturer while Muriel was a big band singer, who had been adopted by a Lothian-based family at an early age (and took on the family name MacDonald). Manson began taking piano lessons at age 7, and her love of music led her to eventually study at the City of Edinburgh Music School.
Shirley was named after an aunt who was herself named after Charlotte Brontë‘s novel Shirley. She was born with two years between both older sister Lindy-Jayne and younger sister Sarah, and was brought up in the Comely Bank and Stockbridge areas of the city. She attended Broughton High School, Edinburgh. Manson’s childhood education was informed by the Church of Scotland (her father was also her Sunday School teacher), until the age of 12, when she rebelled against organized religion.
Young Shirley Manson didn’t have an easy childhood. School was a particular problem, Teased and singled-out by other children based on her looks, Shirley went through emotional torment. Her green eyes and red hair inspired such cruel names as “bloodhound”, and “frog-eyed,” and the taunting left her reluctant to go anywhere without some form of make-up on. ‘The truth is, I’ve always been wracked with self-loathing and terrible, paralysing depression,’ Shirley stated in an interview.
In 1984, Manson found an outlet to express herself: She became a member of the band Autumn, and later joined the group Wild Indians. Manson dropped out of high school at age 16, and soon joined the band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie as a back-up vocalist and keyboardist. She performed with the band until 1992.
She has been married to Billy Bush, (her band’s sound engineer) since May 2010. She was previously married to Eddie Farrell, (whom she described as ‘a man who can make her laugh’) from 1996 until their divorce in 2003.
Shirley Manson has earned most of her fame by being the lead singer for the alternative pop/rock band Garbage. She did work in a couple of other bands first, like Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie and Angelfish. She also had a music video on MTV before joining Garbage. In fact, that’s how the other members (Bryan “Butch” Vig, Doug “Duke” Erikson, and Steve Marker) found her. She is also an actress, known for Garbage (1996), Love & Other Drugs (2010) and Remember Me (2010).