Thursday, April 8th, 2010
30

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.

30 Comments / Post A Comment

Strange that you make a distinction between Bow Wow Wow and barely-legal porn.

Matthew Lawrence (#4,252)

Anabella Lwin definitely wasn't legal. She wasn't even barely illegal when they started.

BoHan (#29)

He was on Jonesy's (Steve Jones) radio show in LA a few years ago, and he was actually quite charming. First question out of the block from Jones: "Where's The Money Bugger?" I had a laugh.

saythatscool (#101)

You know the other part here is that he went to CBGB's ripped off Richard Hell (both in dress and music) and gave it to the Pistols. He was also the only guy who tried to save Sid by putting up his bail, paying for his legal fees and even showing up to court for him. He wasn't an all round bad guy, just a partial one. Like the most of us. Godspeed Malcolm.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Oh, shoot.

I'm off to watch 'Madame Butterfly' now.

Bittersweet (#765)

KCRW's playing it right now.

BadUncle (#153)

Choire, everyone knows the greatest band known to pop music was the Rezillos (with all due respect to Bow Wow Wow).

LondonLee (#922)

Someone's gonna get their head kicked in tonight

Matthew Perpetua (#2,418)

I seriously thought the "barely legal porn" line was a Bow Wow Wow joke until I read further!

Wow, McLaren and the guy who invented box wine, both in the same week. I am seriously bereft (and by "bereft," read, "gonna go get me some box wine now").

kneetoe (#1,881)

"the son of war deserter Pete McLaren"–Ouch, guess they're not ready to let that sleeping dog lie.

Rod T (#33)

Why is this upsetting me so much? FUCK.

barnhouse (#1,326)

If you want to be even more upset, check out Vivienne Westwood's Wikipedia page. Dude is sixty-nine freaking years old, all of a sudden.

KarenUhOh (#19)

It's probably upsetting you because he had his fingers in so many pies I, and I suspect you, stuck our faces in.

As it should. DOUBLE FUCK.

KarenUhOh (#19)

He also hijacked, and sculpted, the dying efforts of the original Dolls–put them in those goofy and not-at-all comfy-looking Vivienne Marxist Bondage outfits and tried to radicalize them. As if they needed any radicalizing.

Ah, to be a fly on the wall when Johhny and Malcolm discussed the geopolitical implications of "Chatterbox."

R.I.P. to the Supreme Team Leader.

LondonLee (#922)

Wow, like others I'm surprised at how sad this makes me. I grew up not far from the King's Road and I was always too scared to go into Sex.

And yes, he did appropriate African-American music but that produced "Buffalo Girls" the first proper hip-hop record to make the charts which turned out to be just an important event as the Sex Pistols, probably more so.

LondonLee (#922)

Sorry, 'Buffalo Gals' of course.

queensissy (#1,783)

I just said, "Malcolm McLaren died," here at work, and got a bunch of "Who's Malcolm McLaren?"s in response. This wouldn't be so distressing if I didn't work in the MUSIC INDUSTRY… sigh.

RIP, Malcolm. I hope you're buried in an inflatable rubber suit.

wb (#2,214)

And strangely, its Vivienne Westwood's birthday today.

queensissy (#1,783)

Whoa – bummer.

Whatever. Compared to the fake vanilla pudding posing as art that's out there now, I'll spare a few moments to honor a real good freak.

keisertroll (#1,117)

Is it weird that I don't have that much an opinion either way, other than to point out that my younger sister started to talk a lot about him recently, and that the two of us were born AFTER Bow Wow Wow originally broke up?

nautilusjv (#2,458)

"Madame Butterfly" is an epic song…love it!

He did some very good things but also had an unsavory side.

I prefer X-Ray Spex to Bow-wow-wow but also he was Jewish which is kind of weird for a guy named Malcolm McLaren.

Now then, speaking of the same haircuts, how's about Malcolm Gladwell? When's his departure date?

His stepfather, likely. Not McLaren, I don't think.

HeatherW (#3,023)

I knew he was a nasty piece of work but still he touched my life and I can't deny that.

I really loved all the music he was somehow involved with, and in the '80s it was probably his video for Buffalo Gals (in addition to many others) that made me want to move to New York in the first place, which changed the whole course of my life.

Whatever his motives, he loved culture and he wouldn't have been so good at manipulating messages if he didn't. So I guess in that I feel a kinship with him.

About a year ago I watched "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle" again and was amazed at how shocking it still kind of is. Is it wrong to say he always embodied what I see as a particularly British type of cynicism and competitiveness, much like (in my opinion) Simon Cowell and Damien Hirst (to name just two examples).

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