REMEMBERING MALCOLM MCLAREN
Before I met Malcolm McLaren, I was one of the cynics who couldn't see past the "evil svengali who abused poor Sid" image; created in the main by people like John Lydon. Our first meeting was five years ago on the Rue Réaumur in the 3me of Paris and the time we spent together totally changed my perception of him. We had lunch together for a talk that resulted in this article.
He was 45 minutes late meeting me at Au Bascou, and his initial greeting was a withering “What’s this all about then?” that made my heart sink. Happily what followed was one of the most inspirational and funny interviews I have ever done with a famous person, and on a par with this one.
We talked for two hours about his life and his opinions on many many many many things. What really shone through was his sense of humour about the modern music industry / arts world and how he had always seen it for what it was: ie a big rotten ball of nonsense and crap loosely based around the idea of showbiz and, really, what was wrong with taking the piss out of it by dressing people up like pirates or claiming to have invented hip hop or punk rock or whatever it is he said in interviews to upset the boring people who were his detractors and enemies. His philosophy was that society and the turgid people that propped it up existed purely to be poked and prodded and made to question things all the time, otherwise a slow death awaited us all! If that’s not a “punk” philosophy then I don’t know what is.
It was around year two or three of the Old Blue Last and I remember him becoming excited when I told him about all these new wave of bands that were playing upstairs there, like The Horrors, Klaxons and how “grime” had a home there too. I invited him to come and visit, but unlike his fellow svengali / entrepreneur Tony Wilson, who came to see us once, he never took us up on the invitation.
After we finished off our Basque pork stews (he only ate half of his), we walked through the streets together and he lectured me on how the principles of socialism related directly back to the size of people’s bathrooms in Paris. Then it was religion, art, death, sex, rock and roll and love. He took an inspirationally passionate interest in pretty much any subject you brought up and that’s what a lot of people missed about McLaren.
Did he invent British punk rock? Who fucking cares. He was madly in love with rebellion and youth and beauty and made enemies with the dullards and the pretentious with an evangelical fervour. That is why I will miss him.