April 9, 2010

UK: Malcolm McLaren, punk who shook up the Seventies, dies aged 64

. LONDON, England / The Times / Arts & Entertainment / Music / April 9, 2010 Malcolm McLaren was the presiding impish visionary behind the punk movement that traumatised and thrilled 1970s Britain. Matt Anker/Retna By Ben Hoyle, Mary Bowers Malcolm McLaren once said that rock’n’roll “doesn’t necessarily mean a band, it doesn’t mean a singer, and it doesn’t mean a lyric, really. It’s that question of trying to be immortal.” McLaren, who died yesterday in Switzerland at the age of 64, was one of the tiny band of backstage figures who have left as indelible an imprint on popular culture as any singer or musician. As the manager and creator of the Sex Pistols and the owner with Vivienne Westwood, then his girlfriend, of the boutique Sex, he was the presiding impish visionary behind the punk movement that traumatised and thrilled 1970s Britain in equal measure. With the passing of time, McLaren metamorphosed into something close to a maverick national treasure. While Westwood went on to become a dame, he dabbled in films, corporate motivational speaking, music, art, reality television, politics (standing as a candidate for Mayor of London and promising to introduce alcohol to libraries) and stand-up comedy, always with the same arch and inscrutable persona. One of his last main projects was History Is for P***ing on, his one-man show last summer at the Edinburgh Fringe. McLaren faced up to accusations of charlatanism and of turning popular culture into a cheap marketing gimmick. “I’m here to prove,” he said, “that all that is absolutely true.” His girlfriend said that McLaren had the cancer mesothelioma diagnosed in October, but it had only recently become debilitating. Tom Stockill His girlfriend, Young Kim, said that McLaren had the cancer mesothelioma diagnosed in October, but it had only recently become debilitating. “He didn’t accept he was going to die," she said. He was working right up his death, most recently planning a 13-part BBC series on popular culture. Dame Vivienne said: “When we were young and I fell in love with Malcolm, I thought he was beautiful and I still do. I thought he is a very charismatic, special and talented person. The thought of him dead is really very sad. We hadn’t been in touch for a long time. Ben (her son) and Joe (the couple's son) were with him when he died.” Related links > The Times obituary: Malcolm McLaren > History will be on its knees to him > Malcolm McLaren: rock’n’roll swindler John Lydon, issued a tribute signed Johnny Rotten, the name he used as lead singer of the Sex Pistols: “For me Malc was always entertaining, and I hope you remember that. Above all else he was an entertainer and I will miss him, and so should you.” McLaren was born in London in 1946 and brought up by his grandmother. He was expelled from several art colleges but not before he had formed the views and strategies that later underpinned the apparent anarchy of punk. “I didn’t create it (punk) alone or out of nothing,” he said last year. “Duchamp chose a urinal. I chose Johnny Rotten.” Sir Richard Branson, whose Virgin Records signed the Sex Pistols after they were dropped by EMI and then by A & M Records, said: “Knowing Malcolm’s skills of media manipulation and his knowledge that when someone dies their products double in sales, I suspect tonight he’s having the last laugh in South America. Anyway, I hope he is.” Last night McLaren’s website was blank except for the message: “Malcolm will return shortly . . . ” [rc] Copyright 2010 Times Newspapers Ltd.