Lead Singer of Garbage
“Sometimes I wonder myself. I used to be a shop assistant and nobody ever called me a sex symbol. I was the skinny redhead. People didn't tell me I'm sexy. They told me I'm too skinny and too pale. All of a sudden people consider me a sex symbol just because I sing in a band and I'm on stage. Sometimes I think I could wear a bin liner over my head and there would be a couple of weirdoes out there who'd consider it sexy. I feel the same way I did when I was in school. I'm having the same insecurities. They don't go away just because they call you a sex symbol.” Shirley Manson
Scottish musician and actress Shirley Manson was shot to international fame as the lead singer of the alternative rock group Garbage, which is also comprised of American musicians Steve Marker, Duke Erikson and Butch Vig. With the group, she scored worldwide album sales of over 14 million pieces thanks largely to their first two successful releases “Garbage” (1995) and “Version 2.0” (1998). “Garbage” was certified double platinum in the U.S., U.K. and Australia and spawned the Grammy nominated single “Stupid Girl.” “Version 2.0” was nominated for two Grammy Awards and went double platinum in the U.K. and platinum in the U.S. and Australia. It is also known for producing the Grammy nominating single “Special” (2000). The group started an extended hiatus in October after the release of their fourth album “Bleed Like Me.”
Garbage won a 1996 MTV Europe for Breakthrough Artist and was nominated for Best New Artist at the 1997 Grammy Awards. Manson kicked off her music career in Scotland in 1981. After playing with the bands August 1984 and Wild Indians, she experienced her first success with the Scottish rock group Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, where she served as a keyboardist and sang backup vocals. She recorded three albums with the band before fronting the group Angelfish. She was spotted by Garbage's co-founder Steve Marker after her performance on the music video “Suffocate Me.”
After Garbage took a break, Manson made her professional acting debut on the second and final season of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (2008-2009) where she played the role of Catherine Weaver.
One of Stuff magazine's “102 Sexiest Women in the World” (2002), Manson has been an active supporter of many charities, including the Pablove Foundation, Waverley Care and PETA. In 2001, she was named an ambassador for the M•A•C AIDS Fund, which supports community organizations providing services to people living with AIDS.
Manson is divorced from Eddie Farrel (together from 1996 to 2003). She is close friends with fellow musicians Bono, Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani and Marilyn Manson. She is a fan of Frank Sinatra. Now living in Los Angeles, she is a supporter of Hibernian F.C. and an avid fan of the NBA team San Antonio Spurs.
Childhood and Family:
Shirley Ann Manson was born on August 26, 1966, in Edinburgh, Scotland, to John Mitchell Manson, a university lecturer, and Muriel Flora Manson, a big band singer. She has two sisters named Lindy-Jayne Manson (older) and Sarah Manson (younger). Along with her older sister, Shirley first performed in front of the public at age 4 in an amateur show held at the local Church Hill Theater. She began taking piano lessons as a child and studied the fiddle, clarinet and fipple flute while attending Flora Stevenson Primary School. During this period, she also trained in ballet. Shirley later enrolled at the prestigious City of Edinburgh Music School. In high school, she actively participated in the theater group with which she performed in various dramatic and musical performances such as “The American Dream” and “The Wizard of Oz.” She also joined a local girl’s choir called Waverley Singers.
As she grew older, Shirley became the object of bullying at her school and suffered from depression. In an attempt to stop the intimidation, she hooked up with a rebel crowd and began drinking, smoking marijuana, shoplifting and cutting classes. Music became her salvation and she began performing with local bands. She also worked diverse jobs to support herself, including working as a shop assistant and waitress.
On September 7, 1996, Shirley married sculptor Eddie Farrell. They divorced in 2003. She is known by the nicknames Queen Anne, Shirl, and Queen Helen.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Shirley Manson began her music career with local Edinburgh bands like The Wild Indians and Autumn 1984. Her career began to change when she was approached by Martin Metcalfe of Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie to join his band. She sang backup vocals and played keyboards for the group.
Manson had her first taste of recording in 1984 with Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie's single “Death of a Salesman.” Three years later, the group scored a major label contract with Capitol Records and their debut album, “Good Deeds and Dirty Rags,” was launched in the U.K. in 1989. The album rose to No. 23 on the U.K. Albums chart and spawned the successful U.K. hit “The Rattler,” which peaked at No. 37 in the U.K. The album also released the Top 50 hit “Goodwill City” (#49) and the Top 70 hit “Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie” (#62). The album also consisted of the tracks “Open Your Arms,” “Wake It Up,” “His Masters Voice,” “Candlestick Park,” “Dust,” “You Generous Thing You” and “Good Deeds.” Later that same year, the group released “Fish Heads and Tails.”
In 1990, the group's contract was shifted to Parlophone, another EMI label, and Parlophone released the singles “Love Child” and “Blacker Than Black.” After both tracks failed to chart, Parlophone refused to release the group's second album, “Hammer and Tongs.” Despite the delay, the group continued to tour and once performed in a television concert.
The group eventually landed a new home at Gary Kurfirst's Radioactive, a subsidiary of MCA who released “Hammer and Tongs” in February 1991. A new single, “Now We Are Married,” was released in 1991 but failed to chart. After the disappointment, the group was influenced by their manager to leave Radioactive. Meanwhile, also in 1991, Radioactive launched a compilation album titled “Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie” in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan. The group went on to write new material and released the fourth album “Five” (1993) under their own label Blokshok. The album failed to produce any charted singles.
Thanks to her voice, Manson caught the attention of her group's distributor MCA, who was interested in recording an album with Mansion on lead vocals. As a result, Radioactive signed her as a solo artist, while the remaining Mackenzies performed as her supporting band. Fronted by Manson, Angelfish released a self titled debut album in February 1994 for producers Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. The album sold 10,000 copies in the U.S. and contained their debut singles “Suffocate Me,” which became a favorite on college radio, and “Heartbreak To Hate.” Both singles spawned music videos but it was the video of “Suffocate Me” that gained Mansion attention from producer/musician Steve Marker. Before long, she left Angelfish and The Mackenzies to join Marker's group Garbage.
Consisting of Manson on vocals, Marker on guitars, Duke Erikson on guitar and keyboards and Butch Vig on drums, Garbage released an eponymous debut album in the U.S. on August 15 and the U.K. on October 2, 1995. The album rose to No. 20 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 on the U.K. Albums chart and went double platinum in both countries. It also enjoyed significant success in Canada and Australia, where it charted at No. 4. In support of the album, the group hit the road on a year long tour. “Garbage” has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
The lead single “Vow” earned generally positive reviews from music critics upon its release in March 1995. It went to No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100 and charted at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks. The follow up single, “Only Happy When It Rains,” marked a breakthrough single for the group in the U.K., where it rose to No. 29 on the U.K. Singles chart. The song also peaked at No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 16 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks charts. The third single, “Queen,” became the group's first Top 20 U.K. hit single when it peaked at No. 13 on the U.K. Singles chart and remained there for 8 weeks. The group gained even more recognition with the fourth single “Stupid Girl,” which peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 in the U.K. and became their highest charting single on both charts. The song received 1997 Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group, a MTV Music Video nomination for Best New Artist and an MTV Europe Music for Best Rock Song. It won a 1998 Broadcast Music Incorporated for Best Pop. The fifth and last single from “Garbage,” “Milk,” went to No. 26 on the U.S. ARC Weekly Top 40. Garbage was nominated for a Best New Artist at the 1997 Grammy Awards.
The group released their second album, “Version 2.0,” on May 11, 1998. It achieved the top spot in the U.K. and peaked at No. 13 in the U.S., not to mention making the Top 10 in France, New Zealand (both #1), Canada (#2), Austria, Norway (both #4) and Australia (#5). It sold over 4 million units worldwide and Garbage earned 1999 Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Rock Album. Later, in 2000, they picked up Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group for the third single “Special.” The song won a 1999 MTV Video Award for Best Special Effects. A sleeper hit in the U.S., “Special” peaked at No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 and charted on the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play (#10), the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks (#11), the U.S. Adult Top 40 (#16), the U.S. Top 40 Mainstream (#18) and the U.S. Top 40 Tracks (#22). “Version 2.0” also produced the singles “Push It” (#52 US, #9 UK), “I Think I'm Paranoid” (#9 UK), “When I Grow Up” (#9 UK), “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing” and “You Look So Fine” (#19 UK).
The third album, “Beautiful Garbage,” was released worldwide on October 1, 2001, with the North American release the following day. It debuted at No. 1 on the Australian album chart and eventually achieved triple platinum status there. In the U.K., the album debuted at No. 6 and went gold within three weeks of its release. It also charted at No. 6 in Canada and No. 2 in New Zealand and went gold in both countries. In the U.S., the album peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and sold about 405,000 copies. “Beautiful Garbage” yielded four singles with the songs “Androgyny” (#24 UK), “Cherry Lips” (#22), “Breaking Up the Girl” (#27 UK) and “Shut Your Mouth” (#20 UK). An extended play titled “Special Collection” was released in Japan on February 6, 2002. At the time of its release, the group was in Japan for 11 days to promote their third album. They headlined four shows in Tokyo and Osaka and also appeared on a variety show there.
Garbage released their fourth studio album, “Bleed Like Me,” on April 11, 2005, under Geffen Records. It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, their first Top 10 album ever in the U.S., and the top five in the U.K. and Australia (both #4). “Why Do You Love Me,” “Bleed Like Me,” “Sex Is Not The Enemy” and “Run Baby Run” were other singles released from the album. “Bleed Like Me” was certified gold in Australia and silver in the U.K. The group went on a hiatus later that same year. Manson stated, “We have discussed this and I don't think anybody is interested in breaking up. We feel that this has been a really great tour and we feel that we have really muscled through and produced a great record and we just want to take some time off while things are really good between us.”
Within a few months, Manson began working on a solo project, for which she collaborated with songwriter Paul Buchanan, soundtrack composer David Arnold, producer Greg Kurstin and her band mate Butch Vig. She took some of her solo work to Geffen Records in 2008, but was met with rejection that resulted in her being released from the company. Although without a record contract, she continued to write material.
Manson was reunited with Garbage to release a greatest hits album called “Absolute Garbage” on July 23, 2007. It peaked at No. 68 on the Billboard 200. In addition to their successful singles “Stupid Girl,” Special” and “Why Do You Love Me,” the album also included the new track “Tell Me Where It Hurts,” a remix of “It's All Over But The Crying” and “The World Is Not Enough,” which was previously recorded for the soundtrack to the James Bond movie of the same name (1999). “Tell Me Where It Hurts” charted at No. 50 in the U.K.
Outside of Garbage, Manson has also recorded with many other artists. She collaborated with Fun Lovin' Criminals on the track “Korean Bodega (Aero Mexicana mix)” (1998), which was included in the band's compilation album “A's, B's and Rarities” (2004). She then provided vocals for Queens of the Stone Age's “You Got A Killer Scene There, Man...” (2004), recorded a duet with Eric Every called “Maybe” (2006) and was featured on Gavin Rossdale's “The Trouble I'm In” and Chris Connelly's “Forgiveness and Exile, Pt.3” (both 2007). In 2008, she recorded the song “Samson and Delilah” with Bear McCreary for the soundtrack of the science fiction television series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” which Manson also acted in.
In the music industry since 1981, Manson branched out to acting in 2008 when she landed a regular role on the Fox series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” a spin off of the “Terminator” movies. The series starred Lena Headey as Sarah Connor and Thomas Dekker as John Connor. Manson played Catherine Weaver, a liquid metal T-1001 Terminator, from September 2008 to April 2009. Manson has also appeared in a number of TV shows, including “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”
MTV Video: Best Special Effects, “Special,” 1999
Broadcast Music Incorporated: Best Pop, “Stupid Girl,” 1998
MTV Europe: Breakthrough Artist, 1996