Malcolm McLaren was arguably one of the most cutting edge musical prodigies of the last 40 years. Most known for his outspoken nature and for managing both The Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls, Malcolm McLaren was one of the most controversial and respected names in the industry and an international icon.
Malcolm McLaren’s striking opinions, decisiveness and eccentricity brought him worldwide acclaim. In 1971, recognising the need for a new youth style, Malcolm McLaren and his partner, the designer Vivienne Westwood opened a London clothing shop called ‘Let It Rock’ on Kings Road. A musical conceptualist, by 1975 The Sex Pistol’s Malcolm McLaren had started to manage The Strand – a group that would later become The Sex Pistols. His printer at the time, Bernie Rhodes (soon to be manager of The Clash), helped out wherever he could in managing the group. John Lyndon, (later to be renamed “Johnny Rotten” by McLaren) was spotted by Malcolm McLaren in his clothes store, SEX.
Rotten joined and the band was renamed The Sex Pistols. In May 1977, the band released ‘‘God Save the Queen’’ during the week of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee. Malcolm McLaren organised a boat trip down the Thames where The Sex Pistols would perform their music outside Houses of Parliament. However, the boat was raided by the police and Malcolm McLaren was arrested, nevertheless achieving the goal to attain publicity for the group.
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 time with their new bass player, Sid Vicious. Malcolm McLaren later stated that he had ‘planned out the entire path of the Sex Pistols’ which was later portrayed in the film ”The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle”.
In 1983, Malcolm McLaren released “Duck Rock”, an album which mixed up influences from Africa and the Americas, including mainly hip-hop. The album proved to be highly influential in bringing hip-hop and the dance craze “body popping” 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.
In 1989, he returned with the album “Waltz Darling”, a funk/disco/vogueing inspired album. “Waltz Darling” and “Something’s Jumpin’ in Your Shirt” became top-20 radio hits across Europe. While for once Malcolm 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 introduced this musical genre a year before Madonna took the single “Vogue” to number one on the US & UK charts in 1990.
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.
His song “About Her”, a musical cut-up that features a slowed down version of the Zombie’s “She’s Not There” combined with Bessie Smith’s 1929 recording of “St. Louis Blues” became the hit of director Quentin Tarantino’s movie Kill Bill Vol. 2. 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)” sampled “Hey DJ” (Buffalo Girls). In 2002, Eminem released a track called “Without Me”, which sampled McLaren’s song “Buffalo Gals” and 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”.
McLaren judged the competition in 2009 and was due to return to judge more. However, on 8th April 2010 the world of music lost a legend when, sadly, he passed away. Celebrities and fans of the music industry turned out in force in April 2010 to pay tribute to the star, who was undoubtedly one of the most influential characters in the world of music.
“Malcolm was easily one of the most well respected and known names in British music. Not only did he expand and develop the punk scene, but he was a pioneer of the Hip Hop and Electro scene in the early 80’s, initially bringing over the Double Dutch. When he appeared at the Future Music competition to judge, he was well respected by all of the acts and his words of ‘integrity’ and ‘authenticity’ rung in my ears and have stuck in my mind since. We were very much looking forward to him returning to judge and he will be sorely missed.”
Chris Grayston, Events Director of Future Music.