Punk rock impresario Malcolm McLaren passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 64. Though he'd been battling cancer in his twilight, McLaren had long cemented his musical legacy. As the manager of and founder of influential punk outfit the Sex Pistols, he fast proved himself a master of the sensational. His reach, however, far extended that of the short-lived group.
Beside a storied fashion career with one time partner Vivienne Westwood, McLaren would go on to be involved with the careers of The New York Dolls, Adam and The Ants, and once even attempted to revamp the musical direction of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He'd also release music himself, melding hip-hop and genres as foreign to each other as their geographic origins into something as homogeneous as was musically authentic. As we mourn the passing of one of punk's finest influences, look back on 10 key things you should know about the career of Malcolm McLaren...
The Sex Pistols
• To think, the most visible group in the history of punk rock was an act hand pieced together by McLaren. Though he'd eventually take McLaren to court for mismanagement, singer Johnny Rotten would probably be in a gutter somewhere if not for McLaren discovering him outside of 430 King's Road.
• Though the same could be said for McLaren himself, who would legendary designer Vivienne Westwood have been without McLaren? Their "Sex" shop on 430 King's Road frequented by the Sex Pistols set the tone for punk style forever. The long defunct couple would now probably argue that the greatest of their collaborations is son and Agent Provocateur founder, Joseph Corré.
Adam and the Ants
• McLaren was approached by Adam Ant himself to manage the influential new wavers after their 1979 debut and what did he do? He split the band up to form the largely successful Bow Wow Wow, which he also managed, and recruited new members for Ant. Mo money, mo money, mo money...
430 King's Road
• As the homebase of McLaren's operations, the storefront at 430 King's Road went through a number of incarnations before becoming World's End. What started as the original Paradise Garage went on to outfit every major punk band of the time as "Sex" and even sold S&M gear for a while.
The New York Dolls
• Now this was a band that looked like a band. Once awarded the best and worst new group titles by a Creem Magazine poll, the Dolls were adored and dismissed near equally. Floundering after their second album, The Dolls tapped McLaren drum up some buzz, allowing him to dress them up in red leather outfits and Soviet flag backdrops, which all but put the nail in their coffin.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers
• McLaren caught wind of the Chilli Peppers in '85 and had some pretty strong ideas about what the group could be under his management. Unfortunately, stripping down their sound to play punk rock was not so much the priority for a band that would have George Clinton produce their Freaky Styley album of the same year.
Malcolm Goes Hip-Hop
• McLaren was a hip hop head. For his first solo expeditions in the early '80s, he linked with DJ/rappers The World's Famous Supreme Team and experimental British producer Trevor Horn, releasing groundbreaking albums like Duck Rock, D'ya Like Scratchin'? and it's sequel, Would Ya Like More Scratchin'. The instantly-recognizable songs "Buffalo Gals," "World Famous," and "Hobo (Scratch)" have become some of the most iconic breakbeats in hip-hop over the years, being sampled by everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to Eminem. He even recruited NYC artists Dondi and Keith Harring to help give his packaging an authentic feel.
Reinventing Opera On Fans
• McLaren's 1984 Fans album was an attempt to combine opera and the emerging rap-sung R&B of the time. Predating the deft hip hopera moniker, McLaren essentially created something like new jack swing's great aunt.
An Unreleased Movie With Alan Moore
• In 1986 McLaren commissioned famed comic book writer Alan Moore to pen the screen play for a movie called Fashion Beast. Said to have been an updated version Beauty and The Beast, the film's momentum slowed with the poor health of it's producer Robert Boykin and was eventually aborted with Boykin's death.
Fast Food Nation
• Fashion Beast was a bust, but McLaren's days of movie making were far from over. He'd go on to produce the 2006 film adaptation of Eric Schlosser's nominal "Fast Food Nation" book, a movie who's plot revolved around the discovery of fecal matter in the hamburgers of America's largest fast food chain. Now ain't that some shit?
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