Band: The Sex Pistols
Sid Vicious died aged twenty-one on 1st February 1979 of heroin overdosing in Manhattan, New York, U.S.A. He was cremated at Garden State Crematory in New Jersey. U.S.A.and was survived by his mother Anne. Apparently, his ashes were scattered over the grave of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, who had earlier died by suicide.
Sid Vicious was born Simon John Richie on 10th May 1957 in Lewisham, to John and Anne Richie. Shortly after Sid Vicious's birth, he and his mother moved to Ibiza, where they expected to be joined by his father who, it was planned, would support them financially in the meantime. However, after the first few cheques failed to arrive, Anne realised he would not be coming. Anne later married Christopher Beverley in 1965, before setting up a family home back in Kent. Sid Vicious took his father's first name and stepfather's surname and was known as John Beverley.
Christopher Beverley died six months later from cancer, and by 1968 Sid Vicious 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.
Sid Vicious first met John Lydon in 1973, when they were both students at Hackney Technical College. Lydon describes Sid Vicious at this time as a David Bowie fan and a "clothes hound".
John Lydon nicknamed Sid "Sid Vicious" after his pet hamster Sid, who had bitten Sid Vicious. At the time, Sid Vicious was squatting with Lydon.
According to Lydon, he and Sid Vicious would often busk for money, with Sid Vicious playing the tambourine. They would play Alice Cooper covers, and people gave them money to stop. Once a man gave them a little money and they all danced.
Sid 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. He appeared with Siouxsie and 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 Vicious was considered, along with Dave Vanian, for the position of lead singer for the Damned, but Sid Vicious failed to show up for the audition.
Sid Vicious later contended that Vanian and associates had intentionally withheld information regarding the audition as an act of jealousy to ensure Sid Vicious did not arrive. Soured by the experience, Sid Vicious held a personal grudge for this perceived slight perpetrated against him by Vanian and The Damned, a grudge which would become violent. During The Damned's performance at day 2 of the 100 Club Punk Special, the day after making his debut drumming with Siouxsie and the Banshees, an intoxicated and amphetamine-fuelled Sid Vicious hurled his glass at the stage. He was attempting to strike Dave Vanian as an act of retribution, but the glass missed, shattered on a pillar and partially blinded a girl in one eye. Sid Vicious was arrested the next day and imprisoned at Ashford Remand Centre. Friend Vivienne Westwood sent him a book about Charles Manson to keep him occupied during his imprisonment.
According to various publications, Sid Vicious was asked to join the Sex Pistols after Glen Matlock's departure in February 1977, due to Sid Vicious being present at every gig. Manager Malcolm McLaren once claimed "if Johnny Rotten is the voice of punk, then Sid Vicious is the attitude."
McLaren also said in person and in a documentary that if he had met Sid Vicious before he had hired Rotten to be the singer, Sid Vicious would have been the Sex Pistols' front man, because he had the most charisma of anyone on that stage. Sid Vicious played his first gig with the Sex Pistols on 3rd April 1977 at The Screen On The Green in London. His debut was filmed by Don Letts and appears in Punk Rock Movie.
Sid Vicious was in the band, but he could not play well and had no bass guitar experience, so guitarist Steve Jones played bass on the band's debut album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. Sid Vicious appeared on only two songs: "Anarchy In The UK", and "Bodies". He was also absent from the album because he was in hospital with hepatitis and during that period his main visitor would have been his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, an American groupie and heroin addict he had met in 1977.
On 25th December 1977, the band played a matinee for the children of Huddersfield during the firemen's strike. The recording of the Johnny Thunders song "Born to Lose" which appears on Sid Sings, featuring Sid Vicious on vocals, was recorded during this performance, when Johnny Rotten stepped offstage to pose as Father Christmas.
In January 1978, the Sex Pistols embarked on a US tour which would only last one to two weeks because of multiple show cancellations and deterioration within the group. These issues primarily involved tension between Malcolm McLaren, Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, with Rotten accusing Mclaren of trying to "wreck the very thing that made the Sex Pistols great," and the issue of Sid Vicious' worsening heroin habit and negative interactions with members of the audience. In San Antonio, Sid Vicious notoriously hit an audience member on the head with his bass guitar; the audience member had antagonised him. Before the Sex Pistols took the stage of the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas, Sid Vicious, again in heroin withdrawal, carved the words "Gimme a Fix" into his bare chest with a razor. In autumn 1977, the Sex Pistols began to perform the controversial song "Belsen Was A Gas" live for the first time. The song was most likely Sid Vicious' only contribution to the band during his tenure as a member, even though it was composed during his time in the Flowers of Romance. Sid Vicious would also perform this song during his brief solo career after the band's split.
After the show at Winterland in San Francisco, the group fell apart, freeing Sid Vicious to do as he pleased. He embarked on a path to destruction, while recording lead vocals on three cover songs at the same time for the soundtrack album for the film The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. "My Way" was released in 1978, "C'mon Everybody" was released in 1979, and "Something Else" was released in 1979 after his death.
With Nancy Spungen acting as his "manager," Sid Vicious embarked on a solo career during which he performed with musicians including Mick Jones of the Clash, Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock, Rat Scabies of the Damned and the New York Dolls' Arthur Kane, Jerry Nolan, and Johnny Thunders. He performed the majority of his performances at Max's Kansas City and drew large crowds. Examples of this can be heard in the in-between tracks on his live album Sid Sings. Sid's gigs at Max's would turn out to be his last performances as a solo musician, as well as his last performances ever before he died the following February.