The architect of punk, Malcolm McLaren, remained a rebel to the last as mourners said farewell today to a soundtrack of Sid Vicious’s My Way.
Hundreds of people lined the streets of north London in tribute as he was carried by horse-drawn carriage in a spray-painted coffin bearing the words “Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die”.
Family, friends, musicians, fashionistas and punk legends saw off the Sex Pistols manager who was laid to rest in Highgate Cemetery – the scene of an infamous performance by him in punk movie The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle.
McLaren – who died from cancer earlier this month aged 64 – was buried close to other important cultural figures at the historic cemetery including Karl Marx and sculptor Henry Moore.
Mourners – including McLaren’s former partner Dame Vivienne Westwood, Adam Ant, Bob Geldof and Sex Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook – sang along to McLaren’s recording of the Max Bygraves song You Need Hands, which had featured in the film.
Pupils from the Tiffin Boys School in Kingston upon Thames also performed the song.
The 200-strong funeral party at a de-consecrated church, One Marylebone, was encouraged to dance around and throw up their hands, which many of them did – as well as shedding a tear.
The coffin was carried from the Sir John Sloane-designed church to the strains of Vicious’ raucous version of Frank Sinatra’s My Way.
The slogan on McLaren’s coffin was the original name of the influential clothes shop he and Dame Vivienne ran in King’s Road – later renamed Sex and the nucleus of what became the punk movement in the mid 1970s.
Fashion designer Dame Vivienne paid tribute to her former partner’s spirit of rebellion – and urged others to keep it alive.
“I am very, very sad that unbelievably Malcolm is dead and I just wanted to say on this cruel, cruel day – get a life, do something with it.”
Her and McLaren’s son Joseph Corre – who created the Agent Provocateur lingerie firm – read out tributes to his father from those who could not attend, including one from Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones.
Joking about McLaren’s fall-out with the band over royalties, the letter said: “Dear Malcolm, did you take the money with you? Is it in the coffin? Do you mind if I come back tomorrow and dig you up?
“I always had a soft spot for you. You showed me a lot when I was 17 … and I owe you a lot for showing me a different side to life.”
Also among mourners was McLaren’s long-time friend David Johansen of the New York Dolls, the pre-punk US band McLaren managed in the early 1970s.
Punk poet John Cooper-Clarke and artists Dinos Chapman and Tracy Emin were also paid their respects.
Boy George, who encountered McLaren when he tried out for the band Bow Wow Wow as a teenager, sent a floral tribute in an A-shaped anarchy symbol. The card said: “To Malcolm, Rest In Peace, Boy George.”
To laughter, Corre recalled how his father inspired those around him – but “was never there when you needed a hand-out”.
But as emotion got the better of him, he added: “I love him and I’m really proud of him.”
His half-brother Ben Westwood, who was three when his mother and McLaren began a relationship, told how he had fostered their spirit of mischief.
McLaren encouraged him and Corre to make water bombs from plastic bags and throw them from the roof of his grandmother’s house. And they once cycled to Devon without telling anyone – on McLaren’s suggestion.
He said McLaren “made my life interesting” and his rarely finished bedtime stories had them “in stitches”.
“He started off the story, this colourful story, this great story,” Westwood said.
“He left us to fill in the second half so I think that’s what I would say: his legacy is for me and for many people. He started something off and it’s not for him to finish.”
McLaren’s partner Young Kim – who was with him when he died in a Swiss Clinic from mesothelioma – said he had been working right up to his death.
Other speakers included McLaren’s brother Stuart and the TV executive and film producer Andy Harries.
As well as formulating the loose philosophy of punk and managing the Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, McLaren had chart hits of his own with tracks such as Buffalo Gals and Double Dutch.
A blue and white floral tribute at the service spelled out one of his favourite phrases “cash from chaos”.
A green double-decker bus which ferried mourners to Highgate carried the same slogan and had seats appropriately decorated with tartan, a material he and his ex-wife championed with their punk fashions. The destination written on the front of the bus was “Nowhere”.
Fans had been encouraged to take part in a “minute of mayhem” at midday as the service was taking place – playing loud music to recall his spirit.
Others who had been touched by his death and achievements lined the streets as the cortege wound through Camden, with mourners throwing leaflets from the top of the bus, which also carried a pink and yellow banner with the simple message “Malcolm was here.”
Among those paying tribute were ex-punk Beverley Gardener, 47, from Camden, who said: “It’s sad but he was a beautiful man – the king of punk. That is all I can say about him.
“It was nice to just be around at that time, be part of it all.
“I grew up with it, I didn’t know anything else.”
Many mourners remained in Camden for a private wake this afternoon.
Other prominent figures among mourners at the service today included former Clash manager Bernie Rhodes, film-maker Don Letts, Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie and fashion designer Bella Freud.
Those on the guest list included artist Jamie Reid, who was responsible for the eye-catching imagery for the Pistols, and Siouxsie Sioux who was part of the original punk contingent which grew up around the band in their early days. She featured as one of the Sex Pistols’ hangers-on when they made a notorious appearance on live TV with Bill Grundy, and was also briefly in a band with Vicious before she formed her chart act The Banshees and he went on to join the Pistols as bassist.
Vicious died of a heroin overdose in 1979.