Feeling restless in a recording session…
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RIP Malcolm McLaren 1946-2010
I met Malcolm McLaren in 1993 when I was an artist manager. I had been developing a singer/songwriter named Kobe James; he was kind of a blend between Seal and Eddie Vedder. At least that was the plan as I had been searching for an artist who could redefine the concept of a “black artist” much like Hendrix did in the 60s and make money while doing it. Kobe was hugely talented and together, we did unprecedented things like achieve regular video rotation on MuchMusic (Canada’s MTV) without having a demo deal let alone a record deal.
Naturally we generated a lot of music label attention and jumpstarted the PR/fame cycle but things started to go awry for various unsavory reasons typical of young artists in the early stage of buzz building. The last straw was at a Canadian Music Week showcase where my artist left a dozen label “A&R men” waiting while he showed up a hour late for the performance. I finally gave up and ended our contract on the spot. In that painful moment, a lot of my work – producing videos, countless meetings, generating hype, raising capital — went down the drain.
Broken and spent, I headed off to a CMW party to rightfully drown my angst in booze. At the bar, I recognized a dapper-looking fellow who had been chatting with various well-wishers but at that moment was alone. It was Malcolm McLaren, the legendary manager of the Sex Pistols. Feeling like shit, I felt he was the one sage who would understand the thankless nature of artist management and would perhaps be able to provide useful advice in light of what I had just experienced.
“The labels don’t care about your artist, they care about you!” insisted McLaren after I told him my story.
“They trust the manager, ” he explained. “You can always go back with another artist. Those doors will still be open.”
Although I didn’t believe him at the time, I was grateful for the much-needed encouragement from this legend. And later that evening, after telling some music execs what happened, McLaren was proven right. Unbeknownst to me, just about every A&R exec thought my artist was, quite honestly, insane in the membrane. They only took those meetings because of me, I was surprised to hear.
I ended up leaving the music business anyway, having been unable to stomach that level of risk ever again. But I’ll never forget the words of support from one the best in the game.
Rest In Peace Malcolm McLaren. This is one stranger who will never forget you. — MG