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Malcolm McLarens — genius or jerk?

I love reading about legendary music promoters, and how they did what they did. I came across this Malcolm McLarens obit, the infamous Sex Pistols manager . In it are some gems about the genesis of The Sex Pistols (lead signer auditions included Midge Ure, later of Ultravox fame –and Kevin Rowland, who became singer of the band-I-hate-most Dexy’s Midnight Runners), as well as the machinations and manipulations around his next 2 projects, Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow. Did you know McLarens stole Adam’s “ants” and turned them into Bow Wow Wow? Me either.

McLarens had no shame about picking a sound and look for a band, then building everything around that theme.  “I used people like a sculptor sculpting clay” is how he put it. Bruised feelings and egos aside, you have to give the guy credit for vision and execution. And maybe he wasn’t quite so cold. In “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, that great Banksy film, the DVD extras feature part of Mr. Brainwash’s film “Life Remote Control”. There’s a taxi ride interview with MBW and McLarens where Malcolm expresses regret about Sid’s early demise. Or maybe he was just sad the money train ended too soon :)

What do you think? Was Malcolm McLarens a genius promoter or a shameless manipulator of popular culture?

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