Malcolm McLaren RIP

April 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm (Uncategorized)

Rock and roll death is a funny thing:  Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse (Knock on any Door); It’s better to burn out than to fade away (Rust Never Sleeps).

The clichés litter the landscape.  We usually aren’t surprised to learn of those in rock ‘n’ roll expiring early; it’s less surprising when other things take them. I started listening to music in a serious way over 30 years ago, and now I’m starting to see music contemporaries pass from less ‘romantic’ causes.  

Even so, it was a bit of a surprise to read of Malcolm McLaren’s death from cancer on Thursday at the age of 64.  

McLaren of course was the art school student on the fringes of the British Situationist milieu who invented punk rock. At least that’s the way he told it.

A scheming Machiavellian manipulator. That’s the way others told it.

A brilliant conceptionalist who seized opportunities without always seeing the consequences for others. Maybe.

Whatever the real ‘truth’ McLaren left his mark. As manager of the New York Dolls in their final days (and the architect of the Red Patent Leather communist iconography), as clothing entrepreneur of Let it Rock and Sex, as manager of the Sex Pistols, Adam and the Ants, and Bow Wow Wow, and even as a solo artist. McLaren, love him or hate him, he had a vision and a style.

Perhaps the final word should go to John Lydon, McLaren’s one-time nemesis who posted this on his web site the day of McLaren’s death: 

“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”

Johnny Rotten


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