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Westwood, Sex Pistols lead tributes to McLaren

  • Malcolm McLaren was the onetime manager of the British punk band the Sex Pistols
  • He died of cancer at age 64, his girlfriend said Thursday
  • Band broke up in 1978 after feud between McLaren and singer Johnny Rotten
  • The Sex Pistols
  • Punk Rock
  • Music

(CNN) -- Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and members of the Sex Pistols have led tributes to the band's former manager Malcolm McLaren who died of cancer on Thursday aged 64.

As manager of the Sex Pistols and owner, with his then-lover Westwood, of the Sex boutique in London during the mid-1970s, McLaren was considered one of the pioneers of the punk movement.

"When we were young and I fell in love with Malcolm, I thought he was beautiful and I still do," Vivienne Westwood said in a written statement.

Westwood's son with McLaren, Joe Corre, her other son, Ben Westwood, and McLaren's girlfriend, Young Kim, were with him when he died in Switzerland after a battle with mesothelioma.

"I thought he is a very charismatic, special and talented person. The thought of him dead is really something very sad," said Westwood.

The lead singer of the Sex Pistols, John Lydon, better known as Johnny Rotten, also paid tribute to the band's former manager.

"For me, Malc was always entertaining, and I hope you remember that," Lydon said. "Above all else, he was an entertainer, and I will miss him, and so should you."

McLaren and the Sex Pistols had a turbulent relationship during the band's brief, spectacular and controversial career.

Originally known as the Strand, McLaren drafted in Lydon as lead singer and renamed the band the Sex Pistols. Lydon had been spotted wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt with the words "I hate" added to it.

The Sex Pistols' raucous public appearances and raging lyrics on songs like "Anarchy in the UK" and the sneering "God Save the Queen" -- which became a hit despite the BBC's refusal to play it -- made the band notorious on both sides of the Atlantic by 1977.

The Sex Pistols broke up in 1978 after one studio album, in large part because of a feud between McLaren and Rotten, who walked off stage at the end of the band's last show declaring, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

The band's surviving members have regrouped for periodic tours since 1996, but its official Web site still refers to McLaren as its "(mis)manager."

McLaren went on to assemble the pop act Bow Wow Wow and record several albums of his own in the 1980s and '90s.

CNN's Stephanie Halasz and Todd Leopold contributed to this report.