Death Of A Favorite Villain (Malcolm McLaren)

Whether you loved him or hated him, Malcolm McLaren did have an impact of music still being felt to this day.

McLaren is best known as the controversial, double handed yet charismatic manager behind The Sex Pistols. After a short stint as a manager for the seminal Glam band The New York Dolls, he went back to his naive U.K. and helped create the British Punk movement. Along with his former girlfriend, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and a dwindling English political climate, McLaren helped shaped the iconic images associated with early U.K. Punk. Let’s just say the notes he took during his time with the Dolls served him well.

Later on he added Adam & The Ants and Bow Wow Wow on his management list. Controversy followed McLaren yet again, particularly with the lead singer of Bow Wow Wow. Annabella Lwin was only 14 years old when she posed for a band publicity photo based the Manet painting The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l’herbe). The images teenage dreams are made of.

Speaking of controversial album covers, my own mother was outraged. So thanks to Lwin’s nude posing, along with a Nina Hagen album these records were banned from my own household. Ah, the good old days.

Not to outdone, Malcolm went to New York City yet again, and tapped into the budding Hip Hop movement. Mixing Bronx street life, international music and English art school fashion, the result was the hit song ‘Buffalo Gals’ from the album ‘Duck Rock.’ Other solo ventures Malcolm ensued, such as the hybrid of electronic music and opera in the 1984 single ‘Madame Butterfly.’ Later solo projects, although innovative, were not as successful.

Was not aware of this fact, but supposedly Malcolm McLaren was involved with a film project, using a script by comic book writer Alan Moore. The film itself was never made. Later on, Malcolm went on to be one of the producers in the film adaptation of Fast Food Nation.

Why Malcolm McLaren could be considered a “favorite villain” was due to the fact of his questionable manger practices. During the 1980s, former members of The Sex Pistols took McLaren to court over contract rights. Johnny Lydon, formerly known as Pistols’ lead singer Johnny Rotten won and gained complete control from McLaren (and rightly so). After the Pistols’ breakup, Lydon formed the post punk band Public Image Ltd.

Personally speaking, I saw P.I.L. on concert during the mid-eighties. Not only showing my true age when admitting this; I will also humiliate myself when I tell you about accidentally getting kicked in the head by a ‘slam dancer’ (now known as ‘mosher’) during the show. Johnny Lydon insulted everyone during the entire concert, and the audience retaliated by throwing pennies at him. The pennies was the crowd’s physical way of telling Lydon he was a “sell-out.”

Back to Malcolm. My ex-boyfriend from high school met McLaren during his usher shift at a local NYC art film theater. McLaren had gone to see a movie, and my ex took his ticket stub. According to the ex, McLaren was a nice guy.

A few weeks prior to his death, somehow the song “Buffalo Gals” kept on running through my head. It was a song I had remembered from my pre-teen years. This was when I was growing up in Queens, NY. I was a huge Joan Jett fan during this period, but a friend was trying to get me into Hip-Hop. So she played “Buffalo Gals” for me. However, I was too into Rock music at this time and wasn’t willing to budge. Years later, I realized this tune was way ahead of its time.

I’ll end this with two videos posted on YouTube. One is Adam Ant with a spoken tribute, the other is the promo video for Buffalo Gals.

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