Classics: Malcolm McLaren & The World’s Famous Supreme Team – Buffalo Gals (Scratch) (Charisma)
Referring to his/her past as a Punk tells quite a lot about someone. This beginning with what we all remember as the Do It Yourself attitude. As for Malcolm McLaren, I suppose he most likely had no other choice. But he also first and foremost had the talent as a matter of fact. The one of a visionnary that has allowed him to sort of be at the right time at the right moment. And ‘Buffalo Gals’ managed to pretty much exemplify this. Seeing him along with NYC Hip-Hop jocks The World’s Famous Supreme Team delivering a mainfesto in terms of scratching and turntablism. This at a period when Hip-Hop, Electro Breakbeat and Breakdance happened to take the US streets by storm…
Taken from their ‘Duck Rock’ album which helped bringing Hip-Hop to a wider audience, ‘Buffalo Gals’ stands as a classic in the genre. McLaren would later turn to electronic music and eventually Vogue-ing at the end of the 80’s with the memorable ‘Deep In Vogue’…
Born in post-World War II North London, Malcolm McLaren had nothing of an ideal childhood. Brought up in some unconventional way by his grandma after his dad had left home when he was 2. An all-rounder, McLaren attended several art colleges. Eventually finding himself a spiritual connection with the 1968 French revolutionaries, before leavin’ education 3 years after.
Already a visionnary, he realized that a new protest style was needed for the 70’s. This being how he came to largely initiate the Punk movement. Becoming one of its main fashion suppliers. He first took over the back part of the retail premises at 430 Kings Road in Chelsea, West London. There, he would sell Rock and Roll vinyls and refurbished 50’s radiograms. This before converting the entire ground-floor of the location. With his girlfriend, Vivienne Westwood, repairing original clothing and making facsimiles.
In August 1973, McLaren and Westwood visited New York to participate in the National Boutique Fair. There, they met the New York Dolls and began to supply the group with stage wear. Meanwhile they renamed their London store SEX in October the following year. Therefore willing to better reflect a growing preoccupation with fetishwear and provocation by then.
McLaren briefly managed the Sex Pistols in the late 70’s. This until the moment their liaison came to an end, with some of the band members accusing him to not pay when askin’ him for money. McLaren kept the Sex Pistols‘ contract rights until Chris Lydon took him to court in the 80’s and won the rights.
By 1982, McLaren pretty much made the sensation musicwise. Joinin’ forces with NYC jocks The World’s Famous Supreme Team and famous producer Trevor Horn. This resulting in the release of the memorable ‘Buffalo Gals’ that was among the first ones to promote the art of scratching. Then flirting with electronic vibes with producer Stephan Hague on ‘Madam Butterly’ the year after.
Another cut pretty much worth the check happened to be ‘Deep In Vogue’ back in 1989. A quintessential track as a matter of fact which brought the attention of the world to NYC Voguing. Just the way Madonna did by the same period with ‘Vogue’.
As already said, the man was an all-rounder, exploring countless artistic expression forms as a matter of fact. And this always with an undeniable presence of mind. Delivering various TV shows and documentaries. And eventually writing for the press at times. This in addition to his visual exhibitions, bringin’ him back to where he was comin’ from at the end.
Diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in October 2009, McLaren sadly died of the disease on Apr. 08 2010 in a hospital in Bellinzona, Ticino (Switzerland). He was 64.
One could eventually see a headstone on his grave grave in 3 years after. It featured the slogan: “Better a spectacular failure, than a benign success”. This was a misquote of McLaren‘s claim that the best advice he received came from an art school teacher. The latter saying: “It is better to be a flamboyant failure than any kind of benign success…”