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Punk rock impresario Malcolm McLaren dead at 64

The former manager of the Sex Pistols and one of the seminal figures of the punk rock era, Malcolm McLaren, died Thursday, his son said. He was 64.

Joe Corre said his father died of an aggressive form of cancer in Switzerland, declining to give the exact location.

"He was the original punk rocker and revolutionized the world," Corre said in a telephone interview.

McLaren is best known for his work with the Pistols, whose violence, swearing, and anti-establishment antics shocked Britain and revolutionized the world music scene. The band's chaotic career owed much to their manager's talent for self-promotion.

"Without Malcolm McLaren there would not have been any British punk," said music journalist Jon Savage, who wrote "England's Dreaming" - which chronicles the history of the group.

But McLaren, an art school dropout, was first known for his fashion, and the infamous clothes shop he opened on London's King's Road with his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood in 1971.

The shop changed its name and focus several times, operating as "SEX" and "World's End" and "Seditionaries" before Westwood and McLaren split, but its offbeat brand of clothing gave him a window on to the emergent punk music scene.

It was McLaren who gave the name Sex Pistols to the group of young men hanging out at his store and helped pick out front man John Lydon (soon known as "Johnny Rotten"). McLaren signed the group with EMI, and their first single, "Anarchy in the UK" came out in 1976.

The band didn't last long, though. The Sex Pistols fell apart during their U.S. tour, descending into acrimony and legal action. Their bassist, Sid Vicious, died of a heroin overdose in 1979 after he was accused of killing his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, in Manhattan in 1978.

He also had a regarded solo career in which he blended genres and acted as a kind of music curator. In the early 1980s, he had key songs in hip-hop, including the hit "Buffalo Gals," and bringing different textures to the developing genre; in his career, he worked in electronica, pop - even opera.

McLaren is survived by Corre and his longtime partner, Young Kim.

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