Malcolm McLaren Is Dead

Chronic sampler, exploiter and musical entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren is at last dead, at the age of 64. As a youth he was a confirmed attendee of art schools, until they’d had enough of him. Eventually he segued from work as a band costumer into work as a band manager, at first an almost negligible difference in duties. It was his office that installed Johnny Rotten in the Sex Pistols; but the way down was just as steep, and Sid Vicious died and the remaining members of the band turned against him, even using that least of punk methods, the lawsuit, against him.

After a short stint trying to produce barely-legal porn, he took up with Adam and the Antz, making the unusual business position of choosing to fire Adam and remaining with the Antz, surely the lesser end of the deal-except then he installed the inimitable 14-year-old Annabella Lwin as their lead singer, thereby creating the greatest band known to pop music, Bow Wow Wow.

In the 80s, he gave up Africana and began to, shall we say, “re-channel” African-Americana, making records with a blend of hip-hop, electronica and tacky schmaltz music. One of his last acts was to attempt to conquer reality television. Along the way, his fashion directives (gold and the look of leisure!) set the groundwork for the stylings of the modern chav. He starred in a show called “The Baron,” which he technically won, by losing, because the real winner dropped suddenly dead. And he took part in something called “Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack,” in which he again tutored chavs, this time on how to drink wine. He experienced, created and reappropriated so much of so many cultures, reaching from low to medium; surely no showman like him remains.