Thursday, April 08, 2010

Malcolm McClaren - RIP

We at the rANT Farm have just been informed that Malcolm McClaren - manager of the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, fashion empresario, attention junkie, publicity genius, and all around mouthy but brilliant clod - has slipped the surly bounds of current irrelevance and gone to the hall of legends, where, at least in his own mind, he clearly belongs.

He popped his clogs, in other words. Cancer, perhaps.

Let's not mince words - Malcolm McClaren was a dick. He was also a genius at promotion, both in terms of himself AND others, at least when their trajectory matched his own. There's some question as to how much he really had to do with punk's development, other than just being in at the start of things. There's the version he tells in "The Great Rock N Roll Swindle," and there's the version Johnny Rotten tells - which, I'm sure, we're all gonna hear soon, whether we want to or not.

There's a cute story told about Adam Ant's early days. He paid Malcolm McClaren to be his manager, thinking he could benefit from his experience and wisdom. What does Malcolm do for him? Poach some of his musicians to back a new underage singing sensation he found, thus creating the distinctive sound of Bow Wow Wow and leaving Adam Ant minus some players. Mr. Ant considered it a valuable lesson in trusting others, and went on to achieve greater success than Bow Wow Wow ever did - for a while, anyway.

McClaren just laughed all the way to the bank.

Anyone wanting to know more about the "real" Malcolm McClaren is invited to read John Savage's seminal England's Dreaming, which is still THE book about British punk rock. It goes back to McClaren's wayward youth and presence in the Situationist riots, which heralded the filth and fury that would later explode in 70's London by quite some time.

I wouldn't want to serenade him off the stage with someone else's music. I'd rather do it with some of his own. This is his quixotic but haunting handling of "Madame Butterfly." Make of it what you will.


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