Friday, April 09, 2010

Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren dies

Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the New York Dolls, the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, has died aged 64. McLaren died in a Swiss hospital on Thursday, after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer last October. Former lead singer with the Sex Pistols, John Lydon, paid tribute to McLaren saying, "I will miss him, and so should you." Meanwhile McLaren's ex-partner and designer Vivienne Westwood described him as a "very charismatic, special and talented person".

McLaren was born in London and left home as a teenager. Following a series of jobs, including one as a wine taster, he went on to attend several art colleges through the 1960s, being expelled from several before leaving education entirely in 1971. It was during this time that he began to design clothing, a talent he would later utilise when he became a boutique owner.

He was attracted to the Situationist movement, which promoted absurdist and provocative actions as a way of enacting social change. In 1968 McLaren had tried unsuccessfully to travel to Paris to take part in the demonstrations there. McLaren would later adopt many of the movement's ideas into his promotion for the various pop and rock groups with whom he was soon to involve himself.

In 1971, McLaren and his then girlfriend, the designer Vivienne Westwood, opened a London clothing shop called Let It Rock on the Kings Road in west London. McLaren's son by Westwood, Joseph Ferdinand Corré, co-founded the lingerie brand Agent Provocateur. After a stay in New York where he managed a group called the New York Dolls he returned to his store in London renaming it SEX. It was here that he met Johnny Rotten [John Lydon], Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook who were to become the Sex Pistols. 

The band courted much controversy during its short history. After their debut single Anarchy in the UK was released in December 1976, the band gained notoriety when they swore on Bill Grundy's TV show. Their concerts faced difficulties with promoters and authorities and they were fired by both EMI and A&M record companies before eventually signing with Virgin Records. In 1977, their single God Save the Queen was banned by the BBC. The band broke up at the end of a U.S. tour in January 1978 and McLaren then created his disputed film version of the Sex Pistols' story, the Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle.

Music journalist Jon Savage said, "Without Malcolm McLaren there would not have been any British punk. He's one of the rare individuals who had a huge impact on the cultural and social life of this nation." Savage, who wrote a definitive history of the Sex Pistols and punk, England's Dreaming, said McLaren was a "complex" and "contradictory" character who had influenced British culture in many ways.
After the Sex Pistols, McLaren went on to manage Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow before pursuing a solo career and venturing into writing and film production. However he will be most remembered for the Sex Pistols and being the self styled 'inventor' of Punk rock.

McLaren spent his later years living with his Korean American girlfriend Young Kim between Paris and New York. Kim, 38, McLaren's partner of 12 years, said the family were "devastated" by his death and he would be "sorely missed". McLaren "was a great artist who changed the world," she said.

McLaren and Dame Vivienne's son, Joseph Corré, said his father was "the original punk rocker" who "revolutionised the world". Corré said funeral arrangements were not yet made but his father had wanted to be buried in Highgate Cemetery, north London. [Pictured: L-R Malcolm McLaren, Steve Jones, Johnny Rotten [John Lydon], Glen Matlock and Paul Cook]

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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