Is McLaren’s legacy may be positive

SAD news for many last week, as the artist and fashion guru, Malcolm McLaren, passed away, after battling cancer for many months. He was the person responsible for foisting punk rock onto an unsuspecting British nation during the 1970s.

I have mixed feeling about the 70s - I liked the decade because I was young (I am now simply young at heart), however, I can remember distinctly the political strife of the time, our nation plagued by almost incessant strikes.

Something else of the 70s which was a source of disquiet to me was the birth of punk and its chief ambassadors, the Sex Pistols, a group manufactured by McLaren, who had been inspired by seeing a group of cross-dressing freaks, the Pussy Cat Dolls, at a concert in New York.

Let me explain to the uninitiated: the Sex Pistols were a music combo - if you don’t mind stretching the definition of music - who ‘sang songs’ with a revolting anti-establishment message.

The group consisted of John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) as lead vocalist, Sid Vicious on lead guitar, Steve Jones on bass, Paul Cook on drums.


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By their own admission, they were musicians of modest talent, if modest isn’t an exaggeration. In short, they traded on being as repulsive, irreverant, anarchic, shocking, aggressive and lewd as they possibly could.

The principal target of their vitriol was HRH Queen Elizabeth, mainly because she represented the establishment more than anyone else and, of course, in 1977, when the Sex Pistols arrived on the music scene, every decent citizen of our country was celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

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The Queen, as we all know, is such an easy target and continues to be so. One of the Pistols’ records to be released, to follow such ‘gems’ as ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and ‘Who Killed Bambi?’, was ‘God Save the Queen’ and, believe me, the lyrics suggested anything but.

The Pistols made an impact by stunts such as directing a 10-minute foul-mouthed tirade at a television interviewer, Bill Grundy, on ITV, during prime time viewing; in short, they stood against everything that all right-minded people found to be right and just and honourable.

Needless to state, the flamboyant flops lasted no more than 18 months, partly down to the fact that the menacing Sid Vicious, in a drug-fuelled haze, murdered his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, then committed suicide, in a New York hotel.

I admired Malcolm McLaren for his entrepreneurial spirit - he made quite a lot of money out of these nihilistic yobs - and if the whole tawdry saga of what happened to punk rock is not a warning to those nowadays who invest their time and money into the unrestrained, drug-orientated, violence-promoting lyrics of many rap songs, I don’t know what is.

If some of our youngsters learn from the depressing story of the chaotic, crude Sex Pistols, then Malcolm McLaren might have just done us all a favour in the long run.

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