Malcolm in the Middle

Malcolm McLaren is at Sid Vicious' left-hand side

Malcolm McLaren has died in Switzerland aged 64 from a rare form of cancer. He was best known as manager of The Sex Pistols and had briefly managed The New York Dolls prior to that and Bow Wow Wow afterwards. He was also a performer in his own right and was involved in the fashion industry. Nevertheless, it was his hugely influential role in shaping the career of The Sex Pistols for which he will be most remembered. After dropping out of college in the early 70s, London-born McLaren ran a fashion boutique in his native city where he encountered The New York Dolls and followed them back to their native city where he became their manager. This venture was not very successful and he returned to London and the fashion business. In the mid-70s, he put together a band that would become The Sex Pistols with the arrival of John Lydon as lead singer. McLaren helped to create the image of the Pistols and punk rock by clothing the band with items from his store. The band built up a following and were signed to EMI in late 1976. The Pistols quickly achieved notoriety when they appeared live on an afternoon show on Thames Television. Goaded by the show’s presenter, Bill Grundy, the band’s foul-mouthed behaviour made the newspapers the following day, even though the show was only broadcast in London

The band would soon be dropped by EMI and have many of their gigs cancelled. McLaren used all this negative publicity to get the band a new contract with A & M Records, which only lasted for a week due to the band’s behaviour. McLaren got them another contract with Virgin Records within a few months. The group attracted more publicity with the content and packaging of their second single, God Save the Queen, including a radio ban. This anti-royalist anthem was released to coincide with The Queen’s jubilee and the official celebrations were parodied by the band’s performance of the song on a boat along the Thames. The single peaked at number two amid speculation that the charts were rigged to keep it off the top. The title and content of the band’s debut album, released at the end of 1977, saw it banned by mainstream record chains. However, Never Mind the Bollocks made it to the top of the album charts and remains one of the best debut albums in rock music. It would be the only proper album the band released during their short-lived career as they called it a day early in 1978 at the end of an American tour. McLaren went on to court more controversy with the band Bow Wow Wow before launching his own (uncontroversial) music career. In tribute of McLaren’s managerial skills, here are a few covers beginning with the band’s version of a Monkees’s hit and includes interpretations of their songs by an Elvis impersonator, a trad band and (I kid you not) Bananarama! The set concludes with a Smiths cover by Bow Wow Wow and a “tribute” to Bill Grundy, who may have been as big an influence on the success of The Sex Pistols as Malcolm McLaren

Stepping Stone (Monkees cover) – The Sex Pistols

Submission (Sex Pistols cover) – Galaxie 500

Anarchy In the UK (Sex Pistols cover) – Megadeth

God Save The Queen (Sex Pistols cover) – The Bad Shepherds

No Feelings (Sex Pistols cover) – Bananarama

Pretty Vacant (Sex Pistols cover) – The King

I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish (Smiths cover) – Bow Wow Wow

Where’s Bill Grundy Now? – Television Personalities


2 thoughts on “Malcolm in the Middle

    • That’s brilliant, Webbie! I like it. I’d like to dedicate it to Manuel Almunia ;-)

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