As I was driving back from London earlier, I was shocked to hear the news that Malcolm McLaren had died.

The former manager of the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, performer, impressario and svengali was aged 64.

The music journalist Jon Savage who wrote ‘England’s Dreaming’ – the award-winning history of the Sex Pistols and punk – has paid tribute to McLaren by saying that:

“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. I hope he’ll be remembered with fondness.”

And I agree.

McLaren’s punk creation had a major impact on me, introducing me to a whole new style of music that excited me, challenged me, scared me and more. Without doubt, it changed the way I saw and understood the things around me.

The BBC – describing McLaren as an “art college dropout” – states that it was when he was running a clothes shop called Sex in London’s Kings Road with his then-partner Vivienne Westwood that he took an interest in the music scene, designing stage clothes for the New York Dolls, another band he managed for a while.

Then in 1975 he began managing the band that would make his name: the Sex Pistols.

Masterminding the release of their single “God Save the Queen” in the same week of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, I remember watching Top of the Pops in the week that the song got to number 1. Hoping that they would play the song, TOTP just ignored the number 1 that week. Not even acknowledging the fact that the song even existed.

Shortly after, the Sex Pistols broke up only for McLaren to later claim that he planned the whole exercise, setting it out in the film “The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle”.

Following on from that and McLaren pursued a series of solo projects that were as equally exciting and introduced many to scratching via ‘Buffalo Gals’, skipping via ‘Double Dutch’, and the merger of rock and opera – but definitely not ‘rock opera’ – via ‘Madam Butterfly’ amongst others.

Most recently – in 1999 – McLaren announced plans to join the race to become London mayorm standing as an independent candidate with a manifesto to legalise brothels and sell alcohol in libraries. Unsurprisingly, he was unsuccessful.

Jah Wobble, former bassist in Public Image Ltd, captured what it was about McLaren:

“He was very important. He was a very interesting character, a ­likeable rogue. The fact that he wasn’t actually a very good businessman made it more fun. He had a great sense of fun. His sense of humour was a great redeeming factor.”

And that’s essentially it. Love him or hate him, McLaren was a character that was fun.

Thanks for the bollocks. You’ll be missed.

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2 thoughts on “Thanks for the Bollocks: Malcolm McLaren Obituary

  1. Malcom’s real name was Malcolm Edwards, he was a classmate of mine at Orange Hill Grammar School
    at Burnt Oak, Edgware.

    At registration, we were Edwards D and Edwards M.

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