Friday, April 09, 2010

Malcolm McMarmite

So it's toodle-pip to a person who appeared to be loved and hated in equal amounts. Some of today's news stories have gone, quite predictably, with the "Godfather of Punk" tag and have also described him as an impressario, mover, shaker, manager and "ideas man".
I've often wondered at that last description as to what constitutes to being labelled as such. It gives a lot of people the impression that Malcolm always had fresh, original and exciting ways to help promote whatever he was up to at the time. Wherever his own inspiration came from God only knows and whether his ideas were his own rather than borrowing them from someone or somewhere else is perhaps neither here nor there, but what he was great at was promotion.
McLaren had said himself that he was a good mis-manager of The Sex Pistols and I firmly believe that he was, despite spending much of his career putting on a bit of a spin when commenting on his own achievements. Inventor of Punk? As in loud noisy guitar music with an attitude that teenagers would love and adults would hate? Don't worry about it, it was all part of his 'Cash From Chaos' initiative. What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the wall when the solicitor reads out his Will.
So he turned lots of people onto Snot Rock, Hip Hop and Opera which was, musically speaking, his finest moment. The Sex Pistols charade, according to him, was always expected to turn into a bloody mess. As to what extent he actually meant this to happen is questionable, but I'd like to think that he perhaps had some form of a human heart lurking behind his internal cash registers. If you ask Viv Westwood, he did. Ask John Lydon and the answer may differ.
When I heard of his passing, the only emotion I felt was empathy for his family and friends. It's best to leave all the ground-breaking, culture-defining, svengali type tributes to writers like Jon Savage.

10 comments:

Robert Swipe said...

Yes Ister - quite agree with that last bit. I tried to articulate that sense of suddenly seeing the person behind all the blah in my humble memorial - but you've hit the nail on the head there. I felt a lot sadder than I'd ever have thought when I herad the news this morning...

Have a good weekend

xxx
Bob

wrod vrecificatoin: nostr (damus?)

Furtheron said...

I agree that to me being a 14 year old in 76 and in a band writing songs called "One way ticket to nowhere" and "national violence" before I really heard the pistols and Clash then realised we were part of this thing... he didn't invent it - we were the backlash to the summer of love 10 years before, the Vietnam war, the 70s Britain with strikes and all that...

With hindsight I think it's easy to change the view at times.

However he was a key critical figure... I ended up dislikeing him though becasue I associated him with the marketing of punk and taking for us kids on the streets... so I grew my hair long and went down a Heavy Rock route which always seemed more anti-establishment or underground.

savannah said...

i knew y'all would have the best eulogy, sugar. xoxox

Colin Gillman said...

yawns...

Piley said...

He was indeed a character... I think I always had him down as a prick, but he was a character none the less, and certainly made the punk scene more interesting. Did he invent it? Only in his little world, but bless him anyway!

I've just blogged the time he e-mailed me over at my gaff!

Cheers!

P

Istvanski said...

Bob - Your write up made for a good read. As for Malcolm, he was a person who could raise a chuckle or two, but I was always laughing at him. Entertaining, wasn't he?

Savvy - Thanks, Sugar. Malcolm kept quiet about his own suffering which is something that was a slight shock considering what a self-publicist he was, but I guess he knew where to draw the line when it came to pulling a stunt.

Furtheron - Punk managed to get top billing when it came to attention grabbing headlines. Some were down to Malcolm's business sense and some inadvertently so. He shat himself when Rotten and Jones swore on Bill Grundy's show, but we all remember the headline that generated.
I think punk's clothes and fashion eventually turned into a uniform in the same way with other sub-cultures. Everyone's identifiable; Punks, Teds, Skins, etc. That's why I still love watching vintage clips of The Undertones - they were wearing normal hand-me-down clothes which set them apart from their contemporaries who sometimes tried a little too hard.

Col - "Bedtime For Bonzo" is not about Malcolm.

Piley - I agree. We can all view him as a villain - that time Adam Ant paid him £1000 in return for Malcolm to work his magic and make him famous was a classic example. Malcolm nicked Adam's band and turned them into Bow Wow Wow! But he did give Adam a few ideas; that Tribal / Burundi sound as well as telling Adam to put a close up picture of his face on the album covers in order to be a household name. Worked a treat.

rockmother said...

Great piece Ister - really well said.

dh said...

Nice piece of writing there Ist. Thoughtful, balanced and informative. I'm sure MM was a complex mixture of needs and emotions. I mean who bloody isn't?

Istvanski said...

Cheers Romo and Dick. I read somewhere that his grandmother brought him up and moulded him into the person he became. Some reckon he inherited the Bohemian gene from his parents.

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