Malcolm McLaren has died. He was 64.
McLaren is widely credited defining the British punk rock movement, although he claimed to have invented it. While living in New York in the early seventies, he managed the New York Dolls and Television. Upon his return to London he took on a management role with the group The Stand which eventually evolved into the notorious Sex Pistols with John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten on vocals, Steve Jones on guitar, Paul Cook playing drums and Sid Vicious replacing Glen Matlock on bass. The original plan was to use the band to promote his S&M fashion shop that he managed with designer and partner Vivienne Westwood.
McLaren was a consummate showman and agitator, organizing the Sex Pistols performance of God Save the Queen on the Thames outside of the British Parliament that was quickly shut down by police, but not before cementing the band’s reputation as rebels and anarchists. He continued to squire the band throughout their career until they imploded during their first North American tour in 1979. He maintained all rights to the Sex Pistols’ catalogue and royalties until 1987 when John Lydon finally won the case against him.
His post Sex Pistols career was just as storied, managing Bow Wow Wow and producing his own albums such as “Duck Rock” in 1983 and “Waltz Darling” in 1989. Most recently he served as producer for the documentary hit Fast Food Nation.
According to Jon Savage, a music journalist who wrote the definitive story of McLaren, the Sex Pistols and the punk rock movement:
“He’s one of the rare individuals who had a huge impact on the cultural and social life of this nation. He could be very charming, he could be very cruel, but he mattered and he put something together that was extraordinary. What he did with fashion and music was extraordinary. He was a revolutionary.”
His son Joseph Corre with Vivienne Westwood is the co-founder of lingerie shop Agent Provocateur.
I think this is the perfect time to play Never Mind the Bollocks and blast the hell out of your speakers. Before you do that, here’s a forgotten McLaren gem, and my first introduction to Madame Butterfly.