Former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren has died aged 64
Malcolm McLaren, the man who created the Sex Pistols, died last night at the age of 64.
He had been battling cancer for many months - an illness he had kept from the public.
He died in a clinic in Switzerland with his 42-year-old son Joe Corre by his side. His body will be brought home to London for burial in Highgate cemetery.
In his later years, when he affected tweeds and soft knits, and looked like a university don, it was easy to forget that McLaren was pop's ultimate iconoclast.
Clever, cynical and camply calculating, he put together the nihilistic explosion which was the Sex Pistols.
As well as creating the band, he manufactured the outrage which made them famous.
Described by the band's lead singer, Johnny 'Rotten' Lydon as 'the most evil person on earth', McLaren would admit to being a deeply dysfunctional man.
He had found fame opening the clothes shop Sex on Chelsea's King's Road with his then lover Vivienne Westwood, mother of Joe.
McLaren had met Miss Westwood in a squat. She was a primary school teacher who was running away from her husband and already had a child in tow. He was an art student.
'Vivienne was astonishing. I thought she looked very beautiful and I thought the kid was adorable,' he recalled.
McLaren leaving a police station in 1977 with John Lydon, aka Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten
He got her pregnant when he was only 18 and pleaded with her to have an abortion. But Miss Westwood spent the money that his grandmother had provided for the operation on 'a cashmere twin-set' from Bond Street.
He had no idea what to do with a baby and even turned up at the maternity hospital three days late. 'Are you a long-distance lorry driver or something?' the nurse asked him.
He barely saw Joe when he was growing up and the child was sent to boarding school as Miss Westwood made her career in fashion.
The boutique he founded with Miss Westwood was more of a success than their failed attempts at family life.
It created the punk look and became the centre of a sensational cultural movement. Keith Richards was an early client, as was Charles Saatchi.
Last night Miss Westwood said: 'When we were young and I fell in love with Malcolm, I thought he was beautiful and I still do. I thought he was a very charismatic, special and talented person.
'The thought of him dead is really very sad. We hadn't been in touch for a long time.'
McLaren and Vivienne Westwood at the opening of their clothing store
Dame Vivienne Westwood in 2006 with (left to right) son Joe Corre, seven-year-old Core Corre, Serena Rees, Dora Swire (Vivienne's mother) and Ben Westwood. Joe and Ben were present when McLaren died
In 1976, McLaren began to bring the Sex Pistols together and their anti-establishment single God Save the Queen stole the number one spot during the silver jubilee in 1977.
To whip up controversy on the Pistols' tour of America in 1978 he purposely booked them to play redneck bars, with predictably violent consequences.
Their music sold well but within two years bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen were dead, Sid from a heroin overdose, Nancy from a knife plunged through her heart, apparently by Sid.
McLaren pictured at the Edinburgh Festival in August last year
McLaren said: 'I knew that something like this would happen eventually. It was almost a way of testing the boundaries, we all do it: you want to feel invulnerable, feel the razor's edge between life and death.
'Punk didn't just change the culture, it changed life, if only for a moment and that was the result of throwing yourself into the brink.'
Not everyone saw things in such elevated terms. Lydon felt used, and later sued McLaren and won control of the group.
McLaren's later career was varied to say the least. He went on to work with director Steven Spielberg on movies including the second Indiana Jones and The Color Purple.
He had some success with the post punk Group Bow Wow Wow and Buffalo girls, and even reworked music for British Airways adverts in the 1990s.
For many years he had been living in exile in both Paris and New York with his girlfriend and assistant, Young Kim, 37.
Born in 1946, McLaren was raised by his grandmother Rose Corre, a failed actress from a wealthy family of Portuguese-Dutch diamond dealers.
Her home in Highbury, North London, was bohemian. She could not stand her husband, who lived in a house down the road, and also disliked her daughter Emily, McLaren's mother, who lived next door.
'My mother might as well have been a stranger, or a sort of strange aunt who visited once a week,' McLaren said.
Rose concentrated on her younger grandson, bringing him up in chaos and discomfort and moulding him to create mayhem.
He said the best advice he had been given came from an art lecturer who said: 'It is better to be a flamboyant failure than any kind of benign success.'
His life, it's clear, was devoted to that aim.