Punk puppet-master Malcolm MacLaren passed away yesterday at the age of 64 from a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma (visit mesotheliomahelp.org for more details).
McLaren’s reputatation for manipulation of the bands he managed is part of modern musical folklore but the irrrefutable fact is that he played a key role in the development, style and sensationalism of 1970s punk. With Vivienne Westwood he created the template image of punk fashion with bondage accessories, cut-up techniques and slogans all still ingrained in modern fashion to this day.
Musically his role was crucial, with involvement in New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Adam & The Ants and Bow Wow Wow he took subversive music to the masses and in many people’s eyes was also responsible for its short lived time in mainstream popular culture. His own contribution to music came in the form of the hip hop music he saw blossoming in the USA. He reinterpreted it in for the English market with songs like Buffalo Gals and Double Dutch before turning his hand to electronic and house music with Waltz Darling.
For all the good and bad, McLaren was an entrepreneur, a manipulator and a provocateur and a very clever one at that.