He had a major hand in the Sex Pistols’ success, serving as the seminal punk band’s manager, but Malcolm McLaren, who died of mesothelioma Thursday at 64, had a few other tricks up his sleeve at his prime. —KA
The New York Times:
Mr. McLaren, a former art student, found an outlet for his ideas about fashion, music and social provocation in London’s inchoate rock ‘n’ roll scene in the early 1970s. Operating from the fetish clothing boutique Sex, which he and the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood ran, he brought together four obscure musicians, dubbed them the Sex Pistols, and provided them with an attitude suited to Britain in decline: nihilistic rage, expressed at top volume in songs like “Anarchy in the UK,” and the vitriolic anti-anthem “God Save the Queen.”
Mr. McClaren was a keen student of the French Situationists, who believed in staging absurdist or provocative incidents as a spur to social change. He arranged for the Sex Pistols to sign their contract with A&M records outside Buckingham Palace and organized a performance of “God Save the Queen” on the Thames, outside the Houses of Parliament, on a boat named the “Queen Elizabeth.” The police quickly intervened, ratifying the group’s incendiary reputation.
Until their breakup in January 1978, the Sex Pistols epitomized the look, the sound and the attitude of British punk. All three came, in large measure, from Mr. McLaren’s restless brain.