Bow Wow Wow singer Annabella Lwin remembers Malcolm McLaren: 'I'm so grateful to have known somebody like him.'
Image Credit: Scott Weiner/Retna Ltd; Inset: Michael Putland/Getty ImagesIn 1980, a 14 year old girl named Myant Myant Aye was plucked from life working at a dry cleaners by former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, who died today at age 64. He changed her name to Annabella Lwin, and hired her to front new wave/world music act Bow Wow Wow. EW.com spoke with Lwin this afternoon, and she shared her memories of the late impresario.
“I knew him when I was in my teens, and he’s the one that started me as a singer in a band many years ago. I was working in a dry cleaners, and he actually got me fired. But bless his sweet cotton socks, because little did I know what was to happen after that. I was auditioned, and I met Malcolm McLaren the same day I auditioned for the guys in the band. I didn’t know who he was or anything. I was just told he was the manager of the band, and he was putting together something new.
“On the day, I thought he was a strange creature from another planet. He had a chat with my mother, and asked her — well, he didn’t ask. He said, ‘We need her for this band.’ And the rest of it was pretty much an everyday thing. We got to work together on songs, and I was told to sing certain things, and he was the one that really gave me encouragement in that situation, as opposed to the band. He was the one that said, ‘Use your imagination,’ which is something that will never leave me.
“If it hadn’t been for Malcolm, I don’t think I would have sustained my existence with the three guys in the band. I can’t explain it any better. I was a young girl, and he was an authority figure for me. He was an intellectual to me. He used to know about fine wines and stuff like that. And he used to always talk with this really posh accent, which I couldn’t quite get over. I had no idea what the music industry was about at that time, and he would encourage me to be more me, and told me that I shouldn’t change to be something I wasn’t. He used to tell me to keep it real, and use my imagination, and to have fun. He said it was an adventure.
“It was interesting to note that when I worked with Malcolm, he seemed very shy in dealing with me one on one. We were always surrounded with other people. I don’t know how many females he’d worked with, but he was — I can’t say a father figure, but he was someone I would look up to. Because he obviously had a lot of experience doing whatever he’d been doing, and he encouraged me, so that was a good thing.
“Malcolm McLaren recognized something within me I didn’t even know I was capable of. I don’t think I would have been the singer that I am today, if it hadn’t been for him, even long after I had an association with him on a professional level. I’m so grateful to have known somebody like him. I would have been a different kind of artist — I would have been a put together, pre-packaged kind of artist, and I’ve never been like that since I was in the band Bow Wow Wow that I was lucky enough to be in for a hot minute, before they kicked me out. And I would not have been the singer of that band, because I think the guys wanted to get someone more attractive or something.
“Down the road, I discovered the other stuff he’d done, and I realized that he was like a big schoolboy, and he was having a bit of fun with these building blocks. And if it didn’t go his way, he’d knock ‘em all down and start all over again with some other situation. It’s great to know that he did so much in his life. I mean, what an accomplishment! He started the punk rock movement, and there are a lot of groups out there that have him to thank for them being so big today in the industry. Maybe they don’t take that into consideration because they were little boys or little girls watching the telly, but if it hadn’t been for Sex Pistols and the whole punk movement, there wouldn’t have been bands like Spandau Ballet. A lot of people will definitely be feeling the loss of this genius. Because he was a genius. He saw such great potential in people. He just went all these different directions. You can’t really say any less than that: The guy was a genius.”
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