Malcolm McLaren, the British former manager and self-proclaimed mastermind behind iconic punk band the Sex Pistols, has died at the age of 64, his girlfriend said.
“He passed away at a hospital in Switzerland where he was being treated for cancer,” girlfriend Young Kim said.
Ms Kim, who was with McLaren and his son when he died, said McLaren had travelled to New York in February for the launch of an art book before returning to Switzerland for ongoing cancer treatment at a clinic.
“Malcolm McLaren was a man who changed the world and is a lasting influence,” Ms Kim said. “Without him the world would be a very different place culturally in art, music and fashion.”
Les Molloy, McLaren’s spokesman in Britain, said he was devastated by the news. “It came as an enormous shock,” he said.
Mr Molloy said he had spoken to McLaren in recent weeks about his plans for the future and he had seemed “perfectly fine” despite his cancer.
Asked about conflicting reports of McLaren’s whereabouts when he died, Mr Molloy said he was not sure of the details and had only assumed that McLaren was in New York.
He said McLaren’s family was “devastated”.
“He had been doing very well. It’s a sad day,” he said.
McLaren had been suffering from cancer for some time. His body was to be flown back to Britain and buried in London’s Highgate cemetery, British media reported.
McLaren was best known as manager of the Sex Pistols, one of several bands who propelled the 1970s punk revolution. Their anti-establishment single God Save The Queen stormed the charts at the time of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
The next year, the Sex Pistols toured the United States but split acrimoniously with lead singer John Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten, blaming the erratic behaviour of bass guitarist Sid Vicious as well as McLaren’s mismanagement.
Vicious later died of a heroin overdose after being charged with stabbing his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death in New York.
McLaren had opened a London clothes shop with British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, his then partner, in 1971, making theatrical and sometimes outrageous fashion worn by such bands as the New York Dolls, who he later managed for a brief time.
McLaren’s son with Westwood, Joseph Corre, co-founded the lingerie brand Agent Provocateur.
“I thought he is a very charismatic, special and talented person,” Westwood said in a statement. “The thought of him dead is really something very sad. We hadn’t been in touch for a long time.”
In the 1980s, McLaren released his own albums, drawing on such influences as African music and hip-hop.
As a solo artist he released the 1983 album Duck Rock, including the single Buffalo Gals that proved to be influential in spreading hip-hop to Britain. He made more albums, pulling together such sounds as disco and electronic music.
Music journalist Jon Savage, who wrote England’s Dreaming, the award-winning history of the Sex Pistols and punk, said: “Without Malcolm McLaren there would not have been any British punk.
“He’s one of the rare individuals who had a huge impact on the cultural and social life of this nation.”