McLaren stands with Brian Epstein and Colonel Tom Parker as one of rock’s most famous managers, and what he did as the “mind” behind the Sex Pistols is indeed legendary (his work with Adam Ant was equally cool but too late in the game, and there’s no clear evidence that he helped the New York Dolls at all). Of course, it was charged that he ripped off the band like mad, and thus you have the eternal dilemma: they wouldn’t’ve been famous without him, and so he allegedly decided to nab the lion’s share of the cash.
McLaren was nothing if not unstoppable, and so he went from Situationist troublemaker to fashion designer to rock manager to musician to video artist to shameless participant in English reality shows. Here’s a full South Bank Show portrait from 1984 that outlines his career up to that point:
He helped thrust hiphop culture into the mainstream with his terminally catchy “Buffalo Gals” in 1983:
And he dabbled in “high art” as well, with his “Madame Butterfly,” Hey, if you’re going to try to sell opera to the multitudes, sweating supermodels is not a bad place to start:
Here’s his “duet” with Catherine Deneuve on “Paris Paris”: