Malcolm McLaren

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Malcolm McLaren
Birth name Malcolm Robert Andrew Edwards
Born 22 January 1946 (1946-01-22) (age 63) London, England
Genre(s) Punk rock
New Wave
Hip Hop
Occupation(s) Musician,
Band manager,
Television personality
Associated acts New York Dolls,
Sex Pistols,
Bow Wow Wow

Malcolm McLaren (born Malcolm Robert Andrew Edwards, 22 January 1946, London) is a solo artist, and most famously, former manager to the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols.


[edit] Early years

McLaren was born to Pete McLaren and Emmy Isaacs in the suburbs of postwar London.

His father left when he was two, so he was raised by his grandmother, Rose Corre Isaacs, in Stoke Newington, London. She was a charismatic, formerly wealthy daughter of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who were former diamond dealers. Malcolm told Andrew Denton on Enough Rope, that his grandmother always said to him, "It's good to be bad and it's bad to be good". When Malcolm was six, Emmy Isaac married Martin Levi, a man working in London's rag trade. McLaren's stepfather and his mother owned a shmatte factory in London's East End, 'Eve Edwards London Limited', and Malcolm lived in a fine suburban house. Unfortunately, Malcolm and his stepfather never got along, and by the time he hit his teens, Malcolm couldn’t wait to leave home. After a series of jobs (including one as a wine taster), he went on to attend several Art Colleges through the 1960s, being expelled from several before leaving education entirely in 1971. It was during this time that he began to design clothing, a talent he would later utilise when he became a boutique owner.

He had been attracted to the Situationist movement, which promoted absurdist and provocative actions as a way of enacting social change. In 1968 McLaren had tried unsuccessfully to travel to Paris to take part in the demonstrations there. McLaren would later adopt the movement's ideas into his promotion for the various pop and rock groups he was soon to become involved with.

[edit] The New York Dolls and Sex

In 1971 McLaren and his partner, the designer Vivienne Westwood, opened a London clothing shop called Let It Rock on the Kings Road. 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 to become disillusioned with the style of shop due to problems with the Teddy Boys who were the shop's main customers.

McLaren travelled to New York City for a boutique fair in 1972 having already met the group the New York Dolls. That year he renamed the outlet at 430 Kings Road Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die and supplied the group with stagewear. In 1975 McLaren designed red 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. However, it was while he was managing the Dolls that he first saw the Neon Boys perform. The Neon Boys included Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell, who were later to form Television. In April 1975 McLaren returned to Britain by which time he had renamed the store SEX, selling fetishwear.

[edit] The Sex Pistols

By 1975 McLaren had started to manage The Strand, the band who would later become the Sex Pistols. His assistant, Bernie Rhodes (soon to be manager of The Clash), spotted Johnny Rotten who was then sporting green hair, and torn clothes with the words "I hate" scribbled on his Pink Floyd shirt. His appearance and attitude impressed McLaren and Rotten was brought in to audition as a new frontman. Rotten joined, and the band was renamed The Sex Pistols (McLaren stating he wanted them to sound like "sexy young assassins").

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 Houses of Parliament. The boat was raided by the police and McLaren was arrested, thus achieving his goal to attain 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 an American tour in January 1978. This tour saw the band split up after a series of arguments. 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 asked for money. However McLaren has 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. The film was criticised[who?] for being too skewed towards McLaren[citation needed] and for being a launchpad for McLaren's future career in music as a performer[citation needed] (he performs the Max Bygraves song You Need Hands in the film) as well as a manager.

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 have refused to speak to each other since the band split and in the 2000 film, The Filth and the Fury, the surviving members of the Sex Pistols put their version of events on film.

[edit] Solo musical career

In 1983 McLaren released Duck Rock, an album which mixed up influences from Africa and the Americas, including hip-hop. The album proved to be highly influential in bringing hip-hop to a wider audience in the UK. Two of the singles from the album ("Buffalo Gals" and "Double Dutch") became major chart hits on both sides of the Atlantic.

He then turned his eyes to electronic music and opera in the 1984 single Madame Butterfly, based on the opera. The track is arranged with drum machines, atmospheric synthesizers and spoken verses. It was an unlikely hit, reaching #13 in the UK and #16 in Australia. The producer of the single, Stephen Hague, became a much sought after producer in the techno pop genre following his work with McLaren on the following full length LP Fans.

In 1989, he returned with the album Waltz Darling, a funk/disco/vogueing inspired album. Waltz Darling incorporated elements of his former albums, ie spoken verses, string arrangements and eclectic mix of genres but featured such prominent musicians like Bootsy Collins or 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. While for once McLaren's instincts failed him (there was no sudden interest in waltz music) it still helped to spread the news about the previously underground practice of vogueing. Indeed McLaren precursed this musical genre a year before Madonna took the single Vogue to number one in the UK charts in 1990.

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, McLaren recorded the concept album Paris, with French artists such as Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Hardy.

In 1998 he released "Buffalo Gals Back 2 Skool" (Virgin Records), an album featuring important hip hop artists like Rakim, KRS-One, De La Soul and producer Henri Scars Struck revisiting tracks from the original 'Duck Rock' album.

In addition, that year, he created a band called Jungk. This project was not a commercial success.

Also in 1997/1998, he released a track called "The Bell Song". Various remixes were released on 12" single.

His song "About Her", based on "She's Not There" by The Zombies, rose to prominence when used by director Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill Vol. 2. He was accused of plagiarism for this song in 2005 for allegedly copying the work of a French musician, but was cleared of the charges in November 2005 when the court in Angers, France threw out the case[1]. The song uses Bessie Smith's "St. Louis Blues" by repeatedly playing the verse, "My man's got a heart like a rock cast in the sea."

McLaren's solo work, particularly from the Duck Rock period, has also 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 (Buffalo Girls)" In 2002, Eminem released a track called "Without Me", which sampled McLaren's song 'Buffalo Gals'.

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

In 2007 McLaren's song "World's Famous" was sampled by R&B singer Amerie on the song titled "Some Like It" from her album Because I Love It.

[edit] British Airways adverts

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[2] 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 campaign of the 1980s and 1990s.

[edit] Other projects

McLaren attempted to make a film called Fashion Beast which was scripted by comic book writer Alan Moore during the 1980s. The film was never made, but McLaren has been involved with other film and television projects. One such project was 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 musical numbers by The Happy Mondays, Tom Jones, Rebel MC, Kirsty MacColl, John Altman, and Sinéad O'Connor.[3]

During 2000, there was speculation that he might stand to be elected as Mayor of London [4], although ultimately he did not run. He had an exhibition of some autobiographical work at the German Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie [5] called "Casino of Authenticity and Karaoke" about which he gave an interview [6][7].

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

McLaren is one of the producers for the film adaptation of Fast Food Nation, which premiered on 19 May 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival. It was released in late 2006.

In 2006, McLaren presented the documentary series Malcolm McLaren's Musical Map of London for BBC Radio 2. This was followed in 2007 by Malcolm McLaren's Life and Times in LA.

Also in 2007, McLaren competed in a reality TV show for ITV titled The Baron. The series was due to be shown in August 2007, but was postponed owing to the death of fellow contestant Mike Reid shortly after filming was completed. It was eventually broadcast starting on 24 April 2008. 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.

Also in 2008, New York City public arts group Creative Time premiered 9 pieces of Malcolm's 21 part sound painting series entitled Shallow via MTV's massive HD screen in Times Square. [9]. The series, which originally premiered at Art 39 Basel in June [10], was the first installment of an on-going public arts content partnership between Creative Time and MTV.[9].

[edit] Discography

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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