Sid Vicious

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Sid Vicious
Sid Vicious in 1977
Sid Vicious in 1977
Background information
Birth name Simon John Ritchie[1]
Also known as Sid Vicious
John Simon Beverley[2]
Born 10 May 1957(1957-05-10)
London, England, UK
Died 2 February 1979 (aged 21)
New York City, New York, United States
Genre(s) Punk rock
Occupation(s) Bassist, Songwriter, Composer
Instrument(s) Bass guitar, Vocals, Drums, Tambourine
Years active 1976 - 1979
Label(s) Virgin
Associated acts Sex Pistols
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Notable instrument(s)
Fender Precision Bass (American Classic)

Sid Vicious (born Simon John Ritchie; 10 May 1957 – 2 February 1979) was an English musician best known as the bassist of the influential punk rock group Sex Pistols.


[edit] Early life

Sid Vicious was born Simon John Ritchie in London to John and Anne Ritchie. Anne was a hippie, whereas his father was a guard at Buckingham Palace.[3] Shortly after his birth, John Ritchie left the family. Simon ("Sid") and his mother moved to the island of Ibiza. She married Christopher Beverley in 1965 before setting up a family home back in Kent. Sid had taken his stepfather's surname and became John Beverly.

His stepfather died six months later, and by 1968 Ritchie and his mother were living in a rented flat in Tunbridge Wells where he attended Sandown Court School. In 1971 the pair moved to Hackney in East London. He also spent some time living in Somerset where he was a pupil at Clevedon Secondary Modern.

According to the band's photographer, Dennis Morris, Ritchie was "deep down, a shy person."[4] However, he did assault NME journalist Nick Kent with a motorcycle chain with help from Jah Wobble.[5] On another occasion, at The Speakeasy (a London nightclub popular with rock stars of the day) he threatened BBC DJ and Old Grey Whistle Test presenter Bob Harris.

Ritchie was given the nickname "Sid Vicious" by John Lydon, after Lydon's pet hamster. The hamster had bitten Ritchie, who said that "[Rotten's] Sid is really vicious!" [6] The animal was described by Lydon as "the softest, furriest, weediest thing on earth."[7] At the time, Ritchie was squatting with Lydon, John Wardle and John Gray.

According to John Lydon, the two of them would often busk for money with Sid playing the tambourine. They would play Alice Cooper covers and people gave them money to be quiet.[8]

[edit] Music career

[edit] The Flowers of Romance, and The Banshees

Vicious began his musical career in 1976 as a member of The Flowers of Romance along with former co-founding member of The Clash, Keith Levene (who later co-founded John Lydon's post-Pistols project Public Image Limited) and Palmolive and Viv Albertine, who would later form The Slits. He appeared with Siouxsie & the Banshees, playing drums at their notorious first gig at the 100 Club Punk Festival in London's Oxford Street. According to members of The Damned, Sid, along with Dave Vanian, was considered for the position of lead singer for the Damned, but failed to show up for the audition.[9]

[edit] Sex Pistols

Before joining the band, Sid had associations with The Bromley Contingent, the fashion avant garde that followed the Sex Pistols. According to various publications (such as the biography England's Dreaming by John Savage) and films (namely The Filth and the Fury) Ritchie was asked to join the group after Glen Matlock's departure in February 1977 due to his being present at every gig. Manager Malcolm McLaren once claimed "if Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the attitude."

McLaren also said in person, and in a documentary, that if he'd met Sid before he had hired Johnny to be the singer, Sid would have been the Sex Pistols front man, because he had the most charisma of anyone on that stage. Alan Jones described Sid as "[having] the iconic punk look (...) Sid, on image alone, is what all punk rests on."[10] His nails would be painted in a sloppy manner with purple nail polish [11]. Ritchie played his first gig with the Pistols on 3 April 1977, at the Screen on the Green in London. His debut was filmed by Don Letts and appears in Punk Rock Movie.

In November 1977, Ritchie met American groupie Nancy Spungen, and they immediately began a relationship (Spungen had come to London looking for Jerry Nolan of The Heartbreakers). She was a heroin addict, and Ritchie, who already believed in his own "live fast, die young" image, soon shared the dependence. Although they were deeply in love, their often violent and rocky relationship had a disastrous effect on the Sex Pistols. Both the group and Ritchie visibly deteriorated during their 1978 American tour. The Pistols broke up in San Francisco after their concert at the Winterland Ballroom on 14 January 1978. With Spungen acting as his "manager," Ritchie embarked on a solo career during which he performed with musicians including Mick Jones of The Clash, original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, Rat Scabies of The Damned and the New York Dolls' Arthur Kane, Jerry Nolan, and Johnny Thunders. Ritchie performed the majority of his solo performances at Max's Kansas City and drew large crowds. His final performances as a solo musician took place at Max's.[12]

[edit] Musicianship

Sid was not recognized as a competent bass player. During an interview for Guitar Hero III, when Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones was asked why he instead of Vicious recorded the bass parts of Never Mind The Bollocks, Jones responded, "Sid was in a hospital with hepatitis so he couldn't really play, not that he could play anyway."[13] Sid asked Lemmy, the bassist of Motörhead, to teach him how to play bass with the words, "I can't play bass," to which Lemmy replied "I know." In another interview Lemmy stated "Yeah. It was all uphill. And he still couldn't play bass when he died."[14]

According to Paul Cook, in the few months between joining the band and meeting Nancy, Sid was a dedicated worker and tried his hardest to learn to play; indeed, this period was Cook's favorite in the band [15]. Viv Albertine went further in defense of his ability, saying that one night she "went to bed, and Sid stayed up with a Ramones album and a bass guitar, and when I got up in the morning, he could play. He'd taken a load of speed and taught himself. He was so quick" [16].

[edit] Spungen's death

On the morning of 12 October 1978, Vicious claimed to have awoken from a drugged stupor to find Spungen dead on the bathroom floor of their room (number 100) in the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, New York. She had suffered a single stab wound to her abdomen and apparently bled to death. On 22 November 1978 he was arrested and charged with her murder. Vicious said they had fought that night, but gave conflicting versions of what happened next, saying "I stabbed her but I didn't mean to kill her", then saying he didn't remember and at one point arguing Spungen had fallen onto the knife.

Bail of $50,000 was arranged by his mother.

On 22 October, 10 days after Spungen's death, Vicious attempted suicide by slicing his wrist, and subsequently became a patient at Bellevue Hospital for 72 hours. Some time after leaving hospital he was charged with assault after an altercation with Todd Smith (singer Patti Smith's brother). Vicious was arrested 9 December 1978 and sent to Riker's Island jail for 55 days. He was released on bail on 1 February 1979.

[edit] Death

On the evening of 1 February 1979, a small gathering to celebrate his bail was held at the home of his new girlfriend, Michele Robinson, with whom he'd started living the day he got out of Bellevue Hospital the previous October. Ritchie was clean, having been detoxed from heroin during his time at Rikers Island jail. However, at the dinner gathering, his mother had some heroin delivered, against the wishes of his girlfriend. The junkie who delivered it, Peter Kodick, came and went quickly. After Kodick left, Sid overdosed. Robinson revived him, though she had never seen an OD before, nor had any experience in that area. [17] Much later that night, the couple fell asleep together. Vicious was discovered dead late the next morning. An autopsy confirmed that Vicious died from an accumulation of fluid in the lungs that was consistent with heroin overdose. A syringe, spoon and heroin residue were discovered near the body. [18]

[edit] Discography

[edit] Singles

[edit] Albums

[edit] Various pressings and bootlegs

  • My Way/Something Else/C’mon Everybody (1979, 12”, Barclay, Barclay 740 509)
  • Live (1980, LP, Creative Industry Inc., JSR 21)
  • Vicious Burger (1980, LP, UD-6535, VD 6336)
  • Love Kills N.Y.C. (1985, LP, Konexion, KOMA)
  • The Sid Vicious Experience – Jack Boots and Dirty Looks (1986, LP, Antler 37)
  • The Idols with Sid Vicious (1993)
  • Never Mind the Reunion Here’s Sid Vicious (1997, CD)
  • Sid Dead Live (1997, CD, Anagram, PUNK 86)
  • Sid Vicious Sings (1997, CD)
  • Vicious & Friends (1998, CD, Dressed To Kill Records, Dress 602)
  • Better (to provoke a reaction than to react to a provocation) (1999, CD, Almafame, YEAAH6)
  • Probably His Last Ever Interview (2000, CD, OZIT, OZITCD62)
  • Better (2001, CD)
  • Vive Le Rock (2003, 2CD)
  • Too Fast To Live... (2004, CD)
  • Naked & Ashamed (7”, Wonderful Records, WO-73)
  • Sid Live At Max’s Kansas City (LP, JSR 21)
  • Sid Vicious (LP, Innocent Records, JSR 23)
  • Sid Vicious McDonald Bros. Box (3CD, Sound Solutions)

Sid Vicious & Friends

  • (Don’t You Gimme) No Lip/ (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone (1989, 7”, SCRATCH 7)
  • Sid Vicious & Friends (1998, CD, Cleopatra, #251, ASIN: B0000061AS)

Sid Vicious/Eddie Cochran

  • Sid Vicious v’s Eddie Cochran – The Battle Of The Rockers (LP, Jock, LP 7)

Sid Vicious/Elvis Presley

  • Cult Heroes (1993, CD)

[edit] Films that include Sid Vicious

  1. Sex Pistols Number One (1976, dir. Derek Jarman)
  2. Will Your Son Turn into Sid Vicious? (1978)
  3. Mr. Mike's Mondo Video (1979, dir. Michael O'Donoghue)
  4. The Punk Rock Movie (1979, dir. Don Letts)
  5. The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle (1979, dir. Julien Temple; Julien Temple's The Great Rock N' Roll Swindle features famous Sid Vicious footage, such as his videos for "My Way" and "Something Else," along with various live Sex Pistols footage. There is also a video for "C'mon Everybody," of which only snippets are shown in the film; VHS/DVD)
  6. DOA (1981, dir. Lech Kowalski)
  7. Buried Alive (1991, Sex Pistols)
  8. Decade (1991, Sex Pistols)
  9. Bollocks to Every (1995, Sex Pistols)
  10. Filth to Fury (1995, Sex Pistols)
  11. Classic Chaotic (1996, Sex Pistols)
  12. Kill the Hippies (1996, Sex Pistols, VHS)
  13. The Filth and The Fury (2000, dir. Julien Temple, VHS/NTSC/DVD)
  14. Live at the Longhorn (2001, Sex Pistols)
  15. Live at Winterland (2001, Sex Pistols, DVD)
  16. Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols (2002, Sex Pistols, VHS/DVD)
  17. Punk Rockers (2003, Sex Pistols, DVD)
  18. Blood on the Turntable: The Sex Pistols (2004, dir. Steve Crabtree)
  19. Music Box Biographical Collection (2005, Sex Pistols, DVD)
  20. Punk Icons (2006, Sex Pistols, DVD)
  21. Chaos! Ex Pistols Secret History: The Dave Goodman Story (2007, Sex Pistols, DVD)
  22. Pirates of Destiny (2007, dir. Tõnu Trubetsky, DVD)
  23. Rock Case Studies (2007, Sex Pistols, DVD)

A fictionalised film about the relationship between Vicious and Spungen, Sid and Nancy, was made by director Alex Cox in 1986, starring Gary Oldman as Vicious.

In the movie "Goodfellas", the end credits roll to his version of "I did it my way".

Adrian Edmondson played Vicious in The Comic Strip Presents: Demonella. He is shown in Hell, accompanied by Oscar Wilde, Genghis Khan, Marie Antoinette, and Adolf Hitler.

Ben Garant portrayed Vicious in a skit on the MTV sketch comedy series The State.

The Foo Fighters music video for "Everlong" includes Dave Grohl impersonating Sid and Taylor Hawkins impersonating Nancy.

An episode of The Simpsons tells a fictionalized tale of Sid and Nancy as a Valentine's Day spoof, starring Nelson Muntz as Sid and Lisa Simpson as Nancy.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved on 2009-02-18. 
  2. ^ "Works written by: BEVERLEY JOHN SIMON". ACE Title Search. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.,s,w,p,b,v&results_pp=20&start=1. Retrieved on 2008-10-19. 
  3. ^ The Filth and The Fury, St. Martin's Press, 2000, pg. 13
  4. ^ Sid Vicious Biography -
  5. ^ The Guardian
  6. ^ The Filth and the Fury, St. Martin's Press, 2000, pg. 90
  7. ^ Lydon, John, "Rotten," Plexus Publishing (1993), p. 57. ISBN 978-0859653411.
  8. ^ The Filth and The Fury, St. Martin's Press, 2000, pg. 41
  9. ^ The Damned
  10. ^ Punk: The Definitive Record of a Revolution: Stephen Colegrave, Chris Sullivan: Books
  11. ^ The Filth and The Fury, St. Martin's Press, 2000, pg. 39
  12. ^ "Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols Bring The Filth and the Fury". Max's Kansas City. Retrieved on 2008-09-17. 
  13. ^ Guitar Hero III: Sex Pistols Trailer
  14. ^ "It's only Rock & Roll but he likes it!". Retrieved on 2007-02-09. 
  15. ^ The Filth and The Fury, Julien Temple, 2000; "The best time in the band of all, was when Sid first joined - he was really determined to learn the bass, and fit in and be part of the band"
  16. ^ England's Dreaming, Jon Savage, Faber & Faber, 1991, P.194
  17. ^ "BBC ON THIS DAY". 
  18. ^ "The Death Proclamation of Generation X: A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy of Goth, Grunge and Heroin" by Maxim W. Furek. i-Universe,2008. ISBN 978-0-595-46319-0 . Pg. 101.

[edit] Further reading

  • Anne Beverley, The Sid Vicious Family album (1980, Virgin Books)
  • Gerald Cole, Sid And Nancy (1986, Methuen)
  • Alex Cox & Abbe Wool, Sid And Nancy (1986, Faber and Faber)
  • Keith Bateson and Alan Parker, Sid’s Way (1991, Omnibus Press)
  • Tom Stockdale, Sid Vicious. They Died Too Young (1995, Parragon)
  • Malcolm Butt, Sid Vicious. Rock‘n’Roll Star (1997, Plexus)
  • David Dalton, El Sid (1998, St. Martin’s Griffin)
  • Sid Vicious, Too Fast To Live...Too Young to Die (1999, Retro Publishing)
  • Alan Parker, Vicious. Too Fast To Live... (2004, Creation Books)
  • Spungen's mother, Deborah, wrote a book about her daughter and her involvement with Vicious in And I Don't Want to Live This Life.
  • Ed Hamilton, "Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with the Artists and Outlaws of New York's Rebel Mecca" (2007, DeCapo Press)

[edit] External links

NAME Vicious, Sid
SHORT DESCRIPTION Bassist, Songwriter, Composer
DATE OF BIRTH 1957-05-10
PLACE OF BIRTH London, England
DATE OF DEATH 1979-02-02
PLACE OF DEATH New York City, New York, United States
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