without Malcolm McLaren (who died of cancer recently)
punk rockers would have been just a bunch of dumb yobs (Tony Parsons)
I disagree. It is sad that anybody dies of cancer - not a happy way to go I expect, but I do notice that overall, the obits of this self styled guru are not glowing.
Punk did not entirely pass me by. I went along to a notorious performance by the all girl band, The Slits, at the Rainbow. I don't know if the show was representative of the punk audience, but instead of being spat on or glared at, everyone was very polite. Before the show, what looked like WI tea ladies sold sandwiches and soda. Punks (terrifying beings with safety pins and torn clothes and "Anarchy" scrawled in felt tip pen on T shirts and inexplicable Jean-Jacques Burnell clones) would ask politely of the tea ladies if there was a vegetarian option. They were all charming and apologised if they bumped into you. The Slits were late going on and played for 20 minutes. I was relieved they did not do an encore.
The highlight of my evening was when a Slit came and sat next to me to watch the support and rolled a joint. They owed their moment of fame to one Robin Scott, mastermind behind "M" and their hit "Pop Music, and, incidentally, a fellow Croydon Art College alumnus. By the time the Pistols imploded, the whole punk phenomena had all been clawed back to Tin Pan Alley and the camel coats.
Punk Rockers were just a bunch of yobs. It was not political because it quickly defaulted to the lowest common denominator. None of the music stands the light of day 30 years later. It never gets played, apart from the more poppy, overproduced stuff. The idea that anybody could buy a guitar and play three chords, out of tune, was doomed to last five minutes. It was a political statement, aimed at those who hadn't a clue about anarchy or anarcho-syndicalism, and that is why it was only dangerous to tabloid journalists; it picked up rebels without a cause and sold them very expensive gear from the Kings Road. In the end, punk was a clothing sales gimmick. It did not change music - just look at the crap in the charts, all the bland non-threatening glop. It did not change society. Punk politicised nobody. If anything, music and politics is worse than it was in 1977.
McClaren's clever idea was to major in mischief, and mischief sells, until you have the sense to grow up and support your family. It was an embodiment of disposable music in a disposable world. He was an arch architect of the cult of ephemeral art, and for that, he will get a small footnote in pop culture.
I usually include a post-specific tune at this point, but really, there is nothing I could possibly want to play you. I think Malcolm McLaren might understand the waspish irony of the track I have chosen: