Retroland lost a great one today. Malcolm McClaren passed away today after a battle with cancer at the age of 64. Whether you liked him or not, you couldn’t dispute the fact that the man was an innovator had vision and a knack at spotting trends and capitalizing on them.
Malcolm was a fashion designer originally and opened up a London boutique called “Let It Rock” in 1971 before eventually renaming it “Sex”. It was around this time he started to get involved with music. He worked with the New York Dolls for a bit but his true claim to fame came when he started managing a punk band called “The Strand” who later renamed themselves – The Sex Pistols.
After one studio album and a brutal North American tour, the group was done and Malcolm moved on. Among the groups of the day that Malcolm had a hand in include Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow. He then embarked on his own musical career.
His first venture happened after being exposed to Afrika Bambaata and his Zulu Nation which were a break dance crew that would perform to a new style of music from Bambaata that came to be known as Hip Hop. Malcolm was fascinated and with writing and production help by Trevor Horn put out his first album Duck Rock which featured a couple of early Hip Hop classics “Buffalo Girls” and “Double Dutch” which really helped crossover Hip Hop to the masses.
Malcolm constantly kept reinventing himself and in 1984 mixed electro-pop and opera to create Madame Butterfly which exposed him to a new audience and led to working with Yanni to create the music for a British Airways advertising campaign.
Malcolm continued to work in the entertainment industry and had some songs featured in major motion pictures, appeared on reality TV in the UK, created a few documentaries and just kept it up right till the end. He was anything but boring and a true original.