Tributes are pouring in for Malcolm McLaren, who died yesterday (April 8). More than a band manager, he was a legendary raconteur and pop-culture theorist. Here are a few of his most memorable statements.
On punk: “Punk became the most important cultural phenomenon of the late 20th century. Its authenticity stands out against the karaoke ersatz culture of today, where everything and everyone is for sale.”
On being a provocateur: “Be childish. Be irresponsible. Be disrespectful. Be everything this society hates.”
On the Sex Pistols: “We are punk rock, we're like the lunatic fringe, a bit Robin Hoodish. We're the con men, or we're hated or we're loathed or we cop out. And that's what makes it exciting.”
On the power of music: “Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn't necessarily mean a band. It doesn't mean a singer, and it doesn't mean a lyric, really. It's that question of trying to be immortal.”
On popular protest: “London has a proud history of freedom of expression - anarchists, revolutionaries and dissidents have written their pamphlets here. Street protest is every Londoner's right and should never be stomped upon.”
On opening his clothes shop, Sex, with Vivienne Westwood (pictured): “My intention was to fail in business, but to fail as brilliantly as possible."
On being an agitator: “I am a product of the Sixties. All I have ever felt is disruptive — I don’t know any other way.”
On the Sex Pistols’ infamous TV interview with Bill Grundy: “As simple and harmless as it seems today, that interview was a pivotal moment that changed everything."
On the sex trade: “[We should] Legalise brothels opposite the Houses of Parliament. This will help get rid of sleaze scandals in the government and allow us to focus on the real bullshit that the elite produces.”
On Sex (again): “I wanted to sell things that were normally sold in brown paper bags under the table. I tracked down manufacturers all over the UK… black rubber t-shirts, black rubber raincoats, tit clamps, and cock rings. We sold it all.”
On nostalgia: “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.”
On punk: “The popularity of punk rock was, in effect, due to the fact that it made ugliness beautiful.” (Pictured here are the New York Dolls, who McLaren managed).
On his early career: “I was searching for a way to break the rules, change life – and I was looking to turn art into action."
On himself: "Somehow or another, I remain permanently cool. I try to make ideas happen - ideas that could change life."
On stardom: "I think all great artists are separated from ordinary artists by one thing: they are magicians.”
On 'Anarchy In The UK': ""It's a call to arms to the kids who believe that rock and roll was taken away from them. It's a statement of self rule, of ultimate independence."
On the early days of rock and roll: "Anarchy is self-rule. It's the same attitude that Eddie Cochran had."
On being an artist: “I just wanted to bury myself into the bowels of pop culture and grab-bag it, reinvent it, cut it up, and destroy its product.”
On bad behaviour: "The violence is bound to happen, isn't it? Rock and roll is violent music."
On falling out with John Lydon: "What did I do to this kid? I sprinkled him with stardust. But you have to appreciate: no one wants to know they have been manufactured."
On plagiarism: "Stealing things is a glorious occupation, particularly in the art world.”
On being well-connected: "Iggy Pop used to come to my shop. I'd tell him to get out. I thought he was a hippie."