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The Crack Magazine


The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren: The Biography by Paul Gorman

Halfway through this beautifully written biography I realised that what I understood about the politics of punk specifically and about music generally was almost all filtered through the philosophical lens of Malcolm McLaren. Jesus, alert the punk police and have me arrested tout suite! I have always wondered where my ‘year zero’ approach to music had come from. Or my uncompromising attitude to ‘selling out’, whatever form it took. Or my unwillingness to take seriously anyone who wasn’t in some way or form one of the children of punk. Or my idea that bands should be more than just a club for straight white boys. Or…you get the picture. What this biography makes clear, though, is that the second, third, and fourth acts of McLaren’s life were just as extraordinary as the first act. Songwriter, filmmaker/producer, mayoral/political campaigner, artist. Hagiography this ain’t: though Paul Gorman admires the man’s vision, enormous ambition and will to succeed, he’s also aware, and not afraid to highlight, McLaren’s insensitive toe-treading which often left a host of enemies who weren’t afraid to cast aspersions on the man and his many achievements. History will judge, of course, whether Malcolm McLaren becomes more than a chapter in fashion and musical history. What we can be sure about is that history will judge Paul Gorman’s biography of McLaren to be one of the very best.

Published by Constable £14.99

Steven Long