Britain loses one of its most influential cultural icons – RIP Malcolm McLaren

He may have been unlikely to underestimate his own importance but without the influence of Sex Pistols visionary Malcolm McLaren British popular music simply wouldn’t be the force it is today.

Had the art-school upstart not put Messrs Rotten, Matlock etc in the same grotty rehearsal room and forced them to tear apart pop music theory in 1976 you could pretty much rule out the whole Britpop revolution of the 1990s.

The Jam, Paul Weller plus chart-topping rock gods like Blur and Oasis – and all the indie-heroes who followed in their footsteps – just wouldn’t have existed.

McLaren knew punk, and the Pistols, wouldn’t last as a popular movement. But I doubt he could have estimated just how influential those few short years of craziness and dominance would be on all popular music thereafter.

Yesterday, aged 64, he died.

His legacy is in every guitar-based pop song we hear today.

He never craved a music revolution, more of a cultural explosion. He wanted to put the establishment’s nose out of joint. But in doing so he sewed a seed that would infect popular music and culture for decades afterwards.

It’s been fashionable in later years to slag him off as a bit of an arthouse nutjob. But that ‘theatre’ was what made him tick, what made him so special to music history.

No-one said it better than the man himself so I’ll leave you with his own wise words….

“Our culture has become something that is completely and utterly in love with its parent. It’s become a notion of boredom that is bought and sold, where nothing will happen except that people will become more and more terrified of tomorrow, because the new continues to look old, and the old will always look cute.”

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