From the French situationists such as Guy Debord and the May 1968 revolution in Paris it was one three chord riff to the punk rock era….
Art Chantry (email@example.com):
Malcolm Mclaren was a hustler. Despite all his pretensions, he was at at heart a bone-hard capitalist (read: “greedhead’). when he came back from his sojourn in Paris studying the erstwhile situationists, he immediately walked away from his schooling and opened a haberdashery. Malcolm was also a bit of a sport, a dandy. He liked snappy clothes and fancied himself clever in their preparations.
He opened his shoppe and put his fashion designer wife (the soon-to-be-legend vivienne westwood) in charge of the new clothing designs. They started by selling vintage and repro/retro teddy-boy gear. The Teddy Boys were an early British rockabilly subculture cult that prided itself on natty threads and a cultish love of stupidity. Malcolm fancied them as a sort of ‘British situationist ‘no-culture’ ideal. Beside, they looked cool. Malcolm always seemed to confuse rebel fashion with real rebellion.
Soon, he tired of that and moved into s&m gear (so naughty!), eventually calling his storefront at the dismal end of hipster King’s Row, simply “sex”. It attracted the predictable array of underground sex addicts and fetishists. Soon a new sort of disaffected down and out youth began to hang out there, mostly because they liked the 45′s Malcolm played on his jukebox. He befriended the kids and began to try to figure out ways to take financial advantage of them. Many of them worked his shop for free just to get a new pair of shoes or whatever.
Soon, he had a small retinue of thieves and street urchins that were a regular part of his circle of entertainment. One kid, Steve Jones, managed to steal a rock band’s equipment truck and began to fancy himself a musician, since he now owned a guitar. That inspired Malcolm to have visions of world domination of the pop charts (money, money, money!) Soon a small group of losers were hashing out a few top forty cover tunes in his back room with the stolen gear.
Steve Jones was a lousy singer, so they all decided they needed a new front man. One street acquaintance was suggested and that was how John Lydon (aka, ‘rotten’) came into the picture. Now, John was a lousy singer, too. But what he lacked in talent, he more than made up in ferocious nasty personal style. The guy was a downright charismatic spit-flying shithammer. Malcolm likes that sort of thing. You can make money by creating a spectacle. Kids like spectacles. Besides, it made for a classic ‘situation’, ya know?
John Lydon was an interesting choice. As a young teenager, he suffered a life-threatening bout with meningitis. When he emerged form a coma, he found that his entire memory was wiped clean. This mother had to teach him how to do everything all over again – from scratch; eat, talk, tie his shoes, go the bathroom. The result was a near feral open eyed horrified critic of everything he encountered absolutely new. In a way, the guy was raised by wolves. As if “chauncey gardner” suddenly woke up and was furious about what he found. In other words, a situationist hero. All ready to go. And boy, did he GO!