Written by Joanna Durlik.
Shirley Manson is one of the most famous Edinburgh singers, songwriters, actresses and musicians. For much of her international career, Manson commuted between her home city of Edinburgh and the United States to record with Garbage. But let’s start from the beginning …
She was born in 1966 in Edinburgh and grew up in Portobello. Her mother, Muriel Manson, was a former big-band vocalist and she encouraged her daughter to play the piano at the age of seven. Shirley’s love of music led her to eventually study music at school. Unfortunately, at the beginning of her music education, she was bullied relentlessly at school and therefore Manson fell into a deep depression. Shirley dropped out of high school at age 16 and this was the end of her official education.
Fortunately, she found an outlet to express herself – music. Throughout the years, she was a member of many bands. Her international career started when the drummer of the band Garbage noticed her on MTV. She became the lead singer of the band in 1994.
Garbage’s self-titled debut album in 1995 went double platinum in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The biggest hits such as “Only Happy When It Rains“, “Stupid Girl” and “Vow” become timeless due to Manson’s unforgettable voice and rebellious lyrics.
Unsurprisingly, after a huge success, the band decided to release the second album. “Version 2.0” was a special project for Shirley. She was serving as not only the face and voice of Garbage but also its primary lyricist. Moreover, she modelled for Calvin Klein to promote the album.
Garbage broke up in 2003 due to infighting between members. Time of separation did not last long. After two years, the band reunited to release its fourth album “Bleed Like Me”. The album met with international success, mainly because of the hit “Why Do You Love Me”. It was reaching Top 5 in the United States. The reunion was brief and the band took a hiatus for several years. At the beginning of the 2000’s, Manson was not only recognised by her talent but also due to scandals.
One of them broke out when she co-produced the theme for the James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough”. She was accused of having a romance with Garbage sound engineer Billy Bush. These gossips contribute to Mason divorce in 2003. In every rumour, there is a grain of truth. Shirley and Billy were fiends for almost a decade and in 2010 they decided to get married.
At the same time, Shirley made her acting debut. She was playing cyborg Catherine Weaver on the second season of the show “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”. Due to lack of further roles proposition, she returned to Garbage, when the band returned to the studio to write and record music for its fifth album “Not Your Kind of People”.
Manson has used Garbage’s profile and her own to raise awareness and secure funds for a number of causes. She commissioned a Garbage branded lip gloss online, with all proceeds from the sales split between Grampian Children’s Cancer Research and cancer treatment institutions at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital in Scotland and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York.
Shirley lives with her husband in Los Angeles. They have a terrier named Veela.