He was responsible to bring Punk to England and help to spread it around the world
The Punk Rock mastermind Malcolm McLaren was born 75 years ago
Malcolm McLaren was responsible to bring the Punk Rock to England, he had a pivotal role in the explosion of the Punk music, attitude, and fashion. Malcolm was born on January 22nd, 1946 in London and was raised by his Portuguese grandmother in post-World War II North London. He once stated that his grandmother always said to him, “To be bad is good… to be good is simply boring”. McLaren left home in his teens and dropped out of education in 1971 after becoming interested in promoting Rock bands and artists. With his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood, he opened a store in London where he sold rock and roll records, refurbished 1950’s radiograms. The store became a sort of novelty where several unusual objects were sold as well as many cinema and music memorabilia. Westwood began to design custom clothes to be sold in the store and In August 1973, McLaren and Westwood visited New York to participate in the National Boutique Fair, where they met the New York Dolls and began to supply the group with stage wear, the following year, in October 1974, the store was renamed SEX to reflect a growing preoccupation with fetish-wear and provocation. In January 1975, McLaren and Westwood designed red patent leather costumes for the New York Dolls and used a Soviet-style hammer and sickle motif for their stage show as a provocative means of promoting the band. This ploy was not successful and the Dolls soon broke up. In April 1975, McLaren returned to Britain and brought back with him the concept of Punk Rock, something that he had noticed in New York through bands such as the New York Dolls but it was failing to breakthrough in the United States. Among the crowd that used to hang out at the SEX shop, was the future Sex Pistols members, then very young men. Other customers at the time included Billy Idol and Sid Vicious who would become the absolute icon for Punk. Mclaren put together the Sex Pistols primarily based on their looks and attitude; John Lydon, then sporting green hair and torn clothes with the words “I hate” scribbled on his Pink Floyd T-shirt. The Pistols success popularize Punk all over Europe and soon all over the globe with several bands being formed influenced by the genre.
By 1978 the Sex Pistols had broken up and Mclaren started to promote New Romantic bands such as Bow Wow Wow and Adam and The Ants. During the 1980’s he launched his own solo music career, a fusion of New Wave with the then newly emerging style of Hip Hop and Rap. Two of his singles “Buffalo Gals” and “Double Dutch”, became top-10 hits in the UK, with “Buffalo Gals” a minor hit in some major cities in the US. In 1984 McLaren turned to electronic music and opera on the single “Madame Butterfly”, which reached No.13 in the UK In later years he continued to engage in promoting artists, art projects. He passed away at age 64 on April 8th, 2010 in Switzerland from the disease peritoneal mesothelioma. McLaren’s last words were claimed by his and Vivienne Westwood son, Joseph Corre, to have been “Free Leonard Peltier”. In a coffin sprayed with the slogan “Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die”, McLaren’s funeral was attended by Westwood, Sex Pistols bandmates Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, and celebrities such as Bob Geldof, Tracey Emin, and Adam Ant. McLaren’s body was buried in Highgate Cemetery, North London, to the strains of the Sid Vicious version of “My Way”, the headstone was placed on McLaren’s grave featuring the slogan “Better a spectacular failure, than a benign success”.
Watch a clip of Malcolm McLaren being interviewed with the Sex Pistols in 1976
Look back at the 1984 music video for Malcolm McLaren successful hit single “Madame Butterfly”
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