History Lessons: Spot the opportunity - Malcolm McLaren

By the mid-70s, rock music had developed an unhealthy taste for excess.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Bands like Emerson Lake & Palmer went down abstract cul-de-sacs, and Rick Wakeman of Yes took to appearing on stage in a gold cape, playing a rack of keyboards with a paint-roller, and performing his rock operas on ice. In reaction, youngsters threw bands together without even bothering to learn instruments. Punk was born. But what could have remained an unruly youth cult became an international phenomenon with the help of Malcolm McLaren, a fop who ran Sex, a fetish-wear shop, on London's Kings Road. He took the ethos of the nascent New York punk scene, applied marketing savvy and formed the Sex Pistols. The band held it together just long enough to produce a studio album - which changed the face of music, thanks largely to McLaren's media stunts. Lately, the old financial order has tripped over its own gold cape, and the repercussions are huge. Keep your ear to the ground - there'll be plenty of opportunities.

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