|The Ultimate Sin wrote:
Regarding the Sex Pistols being manufactured, to some extent that was the case. Malcolm McLaren took an existing band with Steve Jones and Paul Cook, then added Glen Matlock and John Lydon to it while the image and sound evolved in the process. He also pushed a lot of the image and provocative style that they're remembered for a lot more than the music in some quarters. I think John Lydon was and is legit. When Sid Vicious replaced Matlock, it took out the most normal band member and added a guy who was on a fast road to oblivion.
Johnny Rotten would've been a much bigger star if he was half as manufactured as people say. He was and is impossible to work with and spit in the faces of so many powerful people that it really destroyed any chance at a mainstream career beyond the 3 years they were somewhat hot in the '70s. The Clash certainly played better with others, thus the difference in longevity and acclaim.
I don't know much about the Sex Pistols, but I just watched the making of Nevermind the Bollocks, and Malcolm seemed completely full of shit. He reminded me of guys in wrestling shoots talking about "the good old days." (Ever see the Greg Gagne YouShoot where every successful thing Vince did was really thought up by Verne but Vinnie stole it? Verne was the only honest wrestling promotor and everyone he went into business double crossed him otherwise all of Verne's genius ideas would have made millions for all involved. Sorry I digress...)
Everything that worked was preplanned because he could see the trends months in advance. Everything that got the band notoriety was orchestrated by him. Everything that went wrong was the band's fault. When it came to its eventual and somewhat abrupt end he didn't care because the whole thing was a lark.
Which was it? Was everything carefully orchestrated by the genius puppet master and the band were just pawns, or was it a lark and the boys being themselves?
McLaren was a brilliant improviser. The Great Rock & Roll Swindle was a retcon, emphasis on the con. He tried to push the New York Dolls into outrage but they were too chaotic to function. The Pistols were an advert for the fetish shop he ran with Vivienne Westwood, Sex, hence the name. Matlock worked there and was a bassist in his spare time, so when Jones/Cook needed a proper musician, McLaren put them together. And recruited Rotten (an occasional customer/shoplifter) because he had the antagonistic presence.
McLaren did push for outrage but got lucky. Someone cancelled on a live news programme and the Pistols went on and swore. McLaren thought it was all over then and there, but it kickstarted them into the stratosphere. When EMI wanted to drop the Pistols as a direct result he just sic'ed lawyers on them. And did the same with A&M. But at the time Virgin was a very hippie label, all Mike Oldfield, and was a last resort. So again that was unplanned.
The Vicious thing ran right out of control, that was really McLaren trying to show that it was all image rather than music, and it didn't work - the thing people overlook with Never Mind The Bollocks is that it is a fucking brilliant record, and that was almost all down to Matlock and Rotten, both of whom he had pissed off. And he flogged that horse into oblivion.
But he was ahead of the game in many respects. Only the execution was off. He thought the big Burundi drumbeat would be the next big thing, and he basically took the Ants away from Adam Ant and put them behind gaolbait singer Annabella Lwin, and named them Bow Wow Wow. He was right - but wrong. Adam Ant recruited new Ants and sold about two million in 1981. BWW flopped.
He also brought hip hop to the UK, plus vogue, but it was too avant garde for the times. He essentially paved the way for both to become huge in Britain but had already moved on to the next thing when they did. (Missed out on a few other ideas - he thought mixing house and opera would take off, but, apart from some rather brilliant singles, it never did.)
Bit unfair though to claim Rotten did less than The Clash. He had a much longer career in music, PiL were consistent sellers into the 1990s. And he's also had a lot of television.