Malcolm McLaren

born on 22/1/1946 in London, England, United Kingdom

died on 8/4/2010 in Bellinzona, TI, Switzerland

Malcolm McLaren

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Malcolm McLaren

Malcolm Robert Andrew McLaren (22 January 1946  8 April 2010[1]) was a British musician, impresario, visual artist, performer, clothes designer and boutique owner, notable for combining these activities in an inventive and provocative way.

Raised unconventionally by his grandmother after his father Peter McLaren left the family home,[2] McLaren attended a number of British art colleges and adopted the stance of the social rebel in the style of French revolutionaries, the Situationists.

With a keen eye for trends, McLaren realised in the 1970s that a new youth style was needed, and largely initiated the punk movement, to which he supplied fashions from the Chelsea boutique 'SEX', operated with his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood. After a spell advising the New York Dolls in the US, McLaren managed the Sex Pistols, to whom he recruited the nihilistic frontman Johnny Rotten. The issue of a controversial record, "God Save the Queen", satirising the Queen's Jubilee was typical of McLaren's shock-tactics, and he gained publicity by being arrested after a promotional boat trip outside the Houses of Parliament.

McLaren also performed as a solo artist, initially popularising hip hop and world music and later diversifying into funk and disco, the dance fashion for "vogueing" and merging opera with contemporary electronic musical forms.

In his later years, he lived in Paris and New York, and died of peritoneal mesothelioma in a Swiss hospital. When accused of turning popular culture into a cheap marketing gimmick, he joked that he hoped it was true.

Early years

McLaren was born to Peter McLaren, a Scottish[3] engineer, and Emily Isaacs, in post-World War II North London. His father left when he was two and he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Rose Corre Isaacs, the formerly wealthy daughter of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish diamond dealers, in Stoke Newington. McLaren told Andrew Denton on Enough Rope, that his grandmother always said to him, "To be bad is good... to be good is simply boring".[4] In The Ghosts of Oxford Street he says Charles Clore (who bought Selfridges) became his mother's lover. When he was six, McLaren's mother married Martin Levi, a rag trade entrepreneur; together they operated women's-wear business Eve Edwards with a factory in London's East End.

McLaren left home in his teens, and, after trying out a series of jobs (including one as a wine taster), he attended several art colleges before leaving education in 1971.

In the late 1960s McLaren was attracted to the Situationist movement, particularly the UK wing King Mob, which promoted absurdist and provocative actions as a way of enacting social change. In 1968 McLaren tried unsuccessfully to travel to Paris to join the demonstrations there. Instead, with fellow student Jamie Reid, he took part in a student occupation of Croydon Art School. McLaren later grafted some of the movement's ideas into promotion of pop and rock groups.[5]

New York Dolls, Vivienne Westwood and SEX

In 1972, McLaren, art school friend Patrick Casey and his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood opened a clothing shop called Let It Rock at 430 Kings Road in World's End, West London. The shop sold Teddy Boy clothes and McLaren and Westwood also designed clothing for theatrical and cinematic productions such as That'll Be The Day and Mahler. Let It Rock proved a success but McLaren grew disillusioned with the style of the shop due to problems with the Teddy Boys who were the shop's main customers.

In August 1973, McLaren and Westwood visited New York to participate in a trade show called National Boutique Fair, where they met the New York Dolls.[6] They began to supply the group with stage wear, McLaren having renamed the outlet at 430 Kings Road Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die earlier in the year. In October 1974, the store was once again renamed, this time SEX to reflect a growing preoccupation with fetishwear and provocation. Early in 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 them. This ploy was not successful and the Dolls soon broke up. In April 1975, McLaren returned to Britain.

Sex Pistols

In summer 1975, McLaren advised SEX customers Paul Cook and Steve Jones on their musical aspirations, introducing them to his shop assistant, bassist Glen Matlock and persuading them to eject guitarist/singer Wally Nightingale from rehearsals. It has been reported that McLaren's associate Bernie Rhodes (later manager of The Clash), spotted a replacement frontman in another customer, John Lydon then sporting green-dyed hair and torn clothes with the words "I hate" scribbled on his Pink Floyd t-shirt. Lydon, dubbed "Johnny Rotten", joined and McLaren provided the name Sex Pistols (McLaren stated that he wanted them to sound like "sexy young assassins").[7]

Rock is fundamentally a young people's music, right? And a lot of kids feel cheated. They feel that the music's been taken away from them by that whole over-25 audience.

NME November 1976[8]

In May 1977, the band released "God Save the Queen" during the week of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. McLaren organised a boat trip down the Thames where the Sex Pistols would perform their music outside the Houses of Parliament. The boat was raided by the police and McLaren was arrested, thus achieving his goal to obtain publicity.

The band released their album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols in October 1977 and played their last UK gig before embarking upon a US tour in January 1978. During his time managing the band McLaren was accused by band members (most notably by John Lydon) of mismanaging them and refusing to pay them when they asked him for money. McLaren stated that he had planned out the entire path of the Sex Pistols, and in the film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle he set this plan out. McLaren kept the Sex Pistols' contract rights until Lydon took him to court in the 1980s to win the rights and unpaid revenues from McLaren. Lydon won and gained complete control from McLaren in 1987. McLaren and Lydon refused to speak to each other after the band split. In the 2000 film The Filth and the Fury the surviving members of the Sex Pistols put their version of events on film.

Other artists

McLaren was approached by Adam Ant to manage Adam and the Ants, following their debut album release in late 1979. Shortly thereafter three members of the band left to form Bow Wow Wow under McLaren's management. McLaren continued to manage Ant as he found new band members for Adam and the Ants and worked on a new sound and also advised such groups as The Slits and Jimmy The Hoover.

The members of Bow Wow Wow also promoted clothing designed by McLaren and Westwood, and he embroiled the group in such controversies as plans to publish a magazine to be titled Chicken, to celebrate sex between individuals under the age of consent.[9]

Solo musical career

In 1983, McLaren released Duck Rock, an album that, in collaboration with producer and co-writer Trevor Horn and The World's Famous Supreme Team (a duo of hip hop radio disc jockeys from New York City who hosted a hip hop and classic R&B show on WHBI 105.9 FM and were among the first DJs to introduce the art of scratching to the world), mixed up influences from Africa and the Americas, including hip hop. The album helped bring hip hop to a wider audience. Two of the singles from the album ("Buffalo Gals" and "Double Dutch") became top-10 hits in the UK, with "Buffalo Gals" a minor hit in some major cities in the U.S.

In 1984 McLaren turned to electronic music and opera on the single "Madame Butterfly", which reached No.13 in the UK and No.16 in Australia. The producer of the single, Stephen Hague, became much sought after following his work with McLaren on the LP Fans.

McLaren's 1989 album Waltz Darling, was a funk/disco/vogueing inspired album. Waltz Darling incorporated elements of his former albums, i.e. spoken verses, string arrangements and eclectic mix of genres but featured such prominent musicians as Bootsy Collins and Jeff Beck with a glitzy, Louisiana-style production aimed at the US market. The singles, "Waltz Darling" and "Something's Jumpin' in Your Shirt" became top-20 radio hits in Europe, with the single "Deep in Vogue" bringing voguing to the attention of the world long before Madonna did.

In 1992, McLaren co-wrote the song "Carry On Columbus" for the feature film of the same name. The song plays over the end credits of the film. In 1994, he recorded the concept album Paris, with appearances by such prominent French stars as the actress Catherine Deneuve, musician Françoise Hardy and fashion designer Sonia Rykiel.

In 1998, McLaren released Buffalo Gals Back 2 Skool (Virgin Records), an album featuring hip hop artists Rakim, KRS-One, De La Soul and producer Henri Scars Struck revisiting tracks from the original Duck Rock album. That year he also created a band called Jungk. This project was not a commercial success. Around this time he released a track called "The Bell Song" as a single available in a variety of remixes.

McLaren's track "About Her", based on "She's Not There" by The Zombies, rose to prominence when featured by director Quentin Tarantino in his film Kill Bill Vol. 2. Accused of plagiarising by French musician, Benjamin Beduneau,[10] McLaren was cleared in November 2005 when a court in Angers, France dismissed the case.[11] The song uses Bessie Smith's "St. Louis Blues" by looping the phrase"My man's got a heart like a rock cast in the sea."[12]

McLaren's solo work, particularly from the Duck Rock period, has been sampled by other artists. In 1999, a group called Dope Smugglaz had a UK top twenty hit with the track "Double Double Dutch", which made extensive use of samples from McLaren's original "Double Dutch". In 1997, Mariah Carey's "Honey" and "Honey (Bad boy remix)" sample "Hey DJ" In 2002, Eminem released a track called "Without Me". which interpolated McLaren's song, "Buffalo Gals". In 2007, McLaren's song "World's Famous" was sampled by R&B singer Amerie on the song "Some Like It" from her album Because I Love It.

In 2001, author Paul Gorman published his book The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion with a foreword and contributions from McLaren. The 2006 second edition included a CD featuring the track "Deux" from the Paris Remixes album.

British Airways advertisements

In 1989, McLaren and composer Yanni arranged The Flower Duet into a work called Aria. The 'Flower Duet' theme, taken from the French opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes, had already been used by composer Howard Blake[13] to accompany British Airways commercials since 1984. However, from 1989 McLaren and Yanni further arranged the Flower Duet and it featured in BA's "World's favourite Airline" global advertising campaign of the 1980s and 1990s.

Other projects

During the 1980s, McLaren attempted to make a film called Fashion Beast, from a script by comic-book writer Alan Moore. McLaren took the project to New York City in 1986, and was for a time funded through NYC-based nightlife impresario and producer Robert Boykin. Avenue Pictures recommended screenwriter Steve Means to rewrite the Alan Moore script. This was contracted and several drafts written, but the process slowed down with the physical deterioration of producer Boykin, who subsequently died in 1988. McLaren declared the project "an orphan." (The film has since been adapted and serialised into a 10-issue comic book, published by Avatar Press (2012).) The film was never made, but McLaren was involved with other film and television projects, including The Ghosts of Oxford Street, made for Channel 4 in 1991. This musical history of London's Oxford Street was directed and narrated by McLaren and included performances by The Happy Mondays, Tom Jones, Rebel MC, Kirsty MacColl, John Altman and Sinéad O'Connor.[14] McLaren was also one of the producers for the film adaptation of Fast Food Nation, which premiered on 19 May 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival and was released in late 2006.

McLaren approached the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1985, early in their career, expressing interest in managing them. After hearing a short live set, McLaren was "clearly unimpressed" according to frontman Anthony Kiedis. He proposed to reinvent the group by having them dress in neon clothing, and have them play stripped-down, basic rock & roll, with all of the emphasis on Kiedis. Although Kiedis was flattered to be considered, he and the band rejected the offer. Kiedis recalled the event, saying "It was like the Wizard of Oz had spoken, and what he had said was too ludicrous to take seriously", as his proposition was too different from the band's musical style.

In an issue of New Statesman published on 20 December 1999, an article titled "My Vision for London" included the McLaren Manifesto,[15] and there was speculation that McLaren might stand to be elected as Mayor of London,[16] although ultimately he did not run.

In 2003, McLaren wrote the article "8-Bit Punk" championing 8-bit music.[17] He also appeared on This Spartan Life, a popular machinima that frequently uses 8-bit music, and he also discussed the topic.[17]

In 2006, McLaren presented the documentary series Malcolm McLaren's Musical Map of London for BBC Radio 2, followed in 2007 by Malcolm McLaren's Life and Times in L.A. Also in 2007, McLaren competed in a reality TV show for ITV titled The Baron, filmed in the small Scottish fishing village of Gardenstown. The series was due to be shown in August 2007, but was postponed owing to the death of fellow contestant actor Mike Reid shortly after filming was completed. It was eventually broadcast starting on 24 April 2008. During filming McLaren was seen urinating into the harbour and loudly telling assembled inhabitants of the famously devout town, 'Jesus is a sausage', at which point he was physically assaulted by a resident.[18] McLaren came last in the competition, which was won by Reid. It was announced on 7 November 2007 that McLaren would be one of the contestants in the seventh series of the ITV reality show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, set in the outback of Australia and premiering on British television on Monday 12 November 2007, but he pulled out the day he had flown to Australia. He told press "it is fake", that he didn't know any of the other celebrities and quite frankly, "he didn't have the time". He was replaced by Katie Hopkins.

In January 2008, McLaren featured as one of the 'celebrity hijackers' in the UK TV series Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack, which was broadcast on E4. In his hijack, he encouraged the housemates to remove their clothes, daub themselves in paint and produce an artwork using only their bodies and a bicycle.

About his contribution to music, McLaren has said about himself: "I have been called many things: a charlatan, a con man, or, most flatteringly, the culprit responsible for turning British popular culture into nothing more than a cheap marketing gimmick. This is my chance to prove that these accusations are true."[19]

Visual art and exhibitions

While still an art student, McLaren's first public exhibition of his work took place in 1967 and was based around an environmental installation staged at the Kingly Street Art Gallery in central London which was run by a group of artists including Keith Albarn.[20]

In 1988 McLaren's work was the subject of the exhibition Impresario: Malcolm McLaren and the British New Wave at New York's New Museum Of Contemporary Art.[21]

In the last decade or so of his life McLaren returned formally to the visual arts. In 1999 an installation created by McLaren was shown as part of the Bonnefanten's 1999 exhibit Smaak On Taste in Maastricht. In 2005 this formed the basis of the exhibition Casino of Authenticity and Karaoke[22][23] at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (Center for Arts and Media Karlsruhe) in Karlsruhe, Germany.[24]

In 2008, New York City public arts group Creative Time premiered nine pieces of McLaren's 21-part sound painting series Shallow via MTV's massive HD screen in Times Square.[25]

The series, which was first shown at Art 39 Basel in June that year,[26] was the first instalment of an on-going public arts content partnership between Creative Time and MTV.[25]

The complete version of "Shallow 121" was given its full US museum premiere in the Morris Gallery of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), in Philadelphia, from 24 October 2009 until 3 January 2010.

In 2009, JRP Ringier published McLaren's book Musical Painting, which featured contributions from other visual artists including Damien Hirst and Jim Lambie. In the afterword, publisher Lionel Bovier wrote: "Malcolm McLaren is and has been artist in the purest sense for his entire adult life." [27]

At the time of his death McLaren had recently finished a new film work entitled Paris: City Of The XXIst Century, which was first shown at the Baltic Contemporary Art Centre in Gateshead, UK.[28]

In 2011, the US performance art biennial festival Performa instituted The Malcolm, an award for the most thought-provoking entry named after McLaren and designed by Marc Newson [29]

In 2013, The Costume Institute of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition "Punk: From Chaos To Couture" included the section The Couturier Situationists dedicated to McLaren and Westwood [30]

Later life and death

McLaren met Korean American Young Kim at a party in Paris; she was his girlfriend for the last 12 years of his life. She moved in with him in 2002;[31] they lived together in Paris and New York.[32] He was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in October 2009,[33] and died of the disease on 8 April 2010 in a hospital in Switzerland. McLaren's last words were claimed by his son Joe Corre to have been "Free Leonard Peltier".[34]

In a coffin sprayed with the slogan "Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die", McLaren's funeral was attended by celebrities including Bob Geldof, Tracey Emin and Adam Ant and held at One Marylebone Church, central London.[35]

McLaren was buried in Highgate Cemetery, North London, to the strains of the Sid Vicious version of "My Way".[1][36]

In 2012 probate was granted to Young Kim by McLaren's will, which excluded his son Joe Corre from the inheritance.[37]

In April 2013 a headstone was placed on McLaren's grave featuring the slogan "Better a spectacular failure, than a benign success, a misquote of McLaren's claim that the best advice he received came from an art-school teacher: "It is better to be a flamboyant failure than any kind of benign success.[38]

Dispute over domain

In 2013 it emerged that a Paul August Nordstrom of Singapore - at one time hired by McLaren as a technical and online consultant - registered the domain to himself in the 1990s without McLaren's knowledge.[39] August - who said in 2012 he "can no longer recall specifically why he placed his own name as registrant[39] " - refused to pass the domain to the Malcolm McLaren Estate, which raised a complaint with online tribunal National Arbitration Forum. The NAF - which determined the dispute as business/contractual, so outside its scope - revealed that August subsequently passed the domain to McLaren's son Joe Corre for $750.[40]


Main article: Malcolm McLaren discography

See also

  • Adam and the Ants
  • Bow Wow Wow
  • Jimmy The Hoover
  • Sex Pistols
  • Vivienne Westwood


  1. 1.0 1.1 Peck, Tom, Malcolm McLaren dies aged 64, The Independent, 8 April 2010. URL accessed on 8 April 2010.
  2. Malcolm McLaren: Punk? it made my day, The Daily Telegraph, 30 September 2007.
  3. obituary. Guardian. Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  4. McLaren, Malcolm. Interview with Andrew Denton. "Enough Rope (Transcript; Audio)." ABC Television., Sydney. 10 July 2006.
  5. Sex Pistols: the inside story By Fred Vermorel, Judy Vermorel  From Situationism to Punk, pp220-224 [1]
  6. England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols & Punk Rock by Jon Savage, Faber, 1989
  7. Simpson, Dave, Malcolm McLaren obituary, The Guardian, 9 April 2010. URL accessed on 24 April 2010.
  8. Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years, 1st, London: Reed International Books Ltd. CN 5585.
  9. Reynolds, Simon, and Joy Press. The Sex Revolt . 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994. 4041. Print.
  10. Malcolm McLaren Denies Plagiarism Claims By French composer. Retrieved on 13 March 2014.
  11. Kill Bill music case thrown out. Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  12. Always on the Always on the Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  13. British Airways Theme Tune. (31 March 1984). Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  14. Channel 4  100 Greatest Christmas Moments, accessed 9 July 2007
  15. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  16. "Malcolm McLaren To Run For Mayor Of London". Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Wired 11.11: 8-Bit Punk. (4 January 2009). Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  18. Rod Liddle: 'Are you looking at me?' The Sunday Times Magazine, July 8, 2007
  19. Classic Rock. June 2010. Issue 145,p. 20.
  20. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  21. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  22. ArtCast Basel: ArtCast featuring Malcolm McLaren. Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  23. Interview download. None. Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  24. Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie. Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Creative time presents the U.S. premiere of Malcolm McLarens shallow outdoors in Times Square. (PDF) . Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  26. artlog  Malcolm McLaren: Shallow, A Series of Musical Paintings
  27. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  28. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  29. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  30. Sowray, Bibby, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art pick punk for 2013 exhibition - Telegraph,, 13 September 2012. URL accessed on 2013-08-02.
  31. Malcolm McLaren, the great rock 'n' roll swindler
  32. Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren dies. (8 April 2010). Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  33. "McLaren to be buried at Highgate". The Independent (10 April 2010). Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  34. Free Leonard Peltier! Malcolm McLaren uses last words to call for release of American Indian killer, Daily Mail, 10 April 2010.
  35. Singh, Anita. (22 April 2010) "Malcolm McLaren's funeral". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 9 July 2011.
  36. Former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren dies at 64, BBC News, 9 April 2010. URL accessed on 8 April 2010.
  37. Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren cuts son out of will, Telegraph, 14 April 2012. URL accessed on 2013-08-02.
  38. Amy Fleming, Portrait of the artist: Malcolm McLaren, musician | Culture, The Guardian, 10 August 2009. URL accessed on 2013-08-02.
  39. 39.0 39.1 {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  40. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}

Further reading

  • Bromberg, Craig. The Wicked Ways of Malcolm McLaren. HarperCollins, 1989. ISBN 978-0-06-096204-3
  • Brown, Dalia; Graham, Rodney; Hirst, Damien and McLaren, Malcolm. Malcolm McLaren: Musical Paintings. JRP/Ringier, 2010 ISBN 978-3-03764-058-6
  • Macleay, Ian. Malcolm McLaren. John Blake, 2010. ISBN 978-1-84358-278-6
  • McLaren, Malcolm. I Will Be So Bad. Arrow. ISBN 978-0-09-927750-7
  • McLaren, Malcolm. These Are the Breaks. Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1993. ISBN 978-1-873968-01-7
  • Overbury, Steve. Guns, Cash and Rock 'n' Roll: The Managers. Mainstream Pub., 2008. ISBN 978-1-84596-234-0
  • Punk Pistol. Sex and Seditionaries: The Incomplete Sordid Works of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. First Edition Pub., 2006. ISBN 978-0-9554643-1-7
  • Punk Pistol. Destroy: Westwood and McLaren Punk Rock Clothing It's Destruction and Deconstruction. First Edition Pub., 2010. ISBN 978-0-9554643-2-4
  • Taylor, Paul. Impresario: Malcolm McLaren and the British New Wave. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1988. ISBN 978-0-262-70035-1
  • Walker, John. "Malcolm McLaren and the sources of Punk" in Cross-overs: Art into Pop/Pop into Art. London/New York: Comedia/Methuen, 1987. ISBN 978-1-85178-016-7

External links

  • Malcolm McLaren at Find A Grave
  • McLaren's Vh1 biography
  • Sex & Seditionaries, website showcasing the work of McLaren and Vivienne Westwood circa 1975 to 1979
  • McLaren interviewed by Ginny Dougary (2006)
  • McLaren interviewed by Marco Siebertz (2006)
  • McLaren interviewed in Swindle magazine (2006)
  • Malcolm McLaren at the Internet Movie Database
  • Malcolm McLaren: Fashion Beast slideshow by Life magazine
  • McLaren at WhoSampled
  • McLaren talks about his life, learning, authenticity and failure, London, October 2009 (video)
  • VBS Meets Malcolm McLaren
  • Interview with Malcolm McLaren
This page was last modified 22.05.2014 14:13:24

This article uses material from the article Malcolm McLaren from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.