SID VICIOUS MY WAY
"TITTER YE NOT"
Two Punks walking home from the pub
"Shit," said the first punk, "as soon as I get home, I'm gonna rip the wife's underwear off!"
"What's the rush?" his mate asked.
"The fucking elastic in the legs is killing me,"
How do you get a one-armed Punk out of a tree?
Throw him a beer.
What has eight arms can't play a bass guitar and kills his girlfriend.
Sid Vicious , born John Simon Ritchie, later named John
Beverley (10th of May 1957 – 2nd of February 1979), was an
English bass guitarist, drummer and vocalist, most famous as
a member of the influential punk group the Sex Pistols, and
notorious for his arrest for the murder of girlfriend Nancy
Vicious joined the Sex Pistols in early 1977, to replace Glen Matlock, who had fallen out
of favour with the rest of the group. Due to intravenous drug use, Vicious was
hospitalized with hepatitis during the recording of the band's only studio album Never
Mind the Bollocks.
Accordingly, his bass is only partially featured on one song from the album. Vicious would
later appear as a lead vocalist, performing three cover songs, on the soundtrack to The
Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, a largely fictionalized documentary about the Sex Pistols,
produced by the group's former manager Malcolm McLaren and directed by Julien
During the brief and chaotic ascendancy of the Sex Pistols, Vicious met eventual girlfriend and manager Nancy Spungen . Spungen and Vicious entered a destructive co dependent relationship based on drug use. This culminated in Spungen's death from an apparent stab wound while staying in New York City's Hotel Chelsea with Vicious. Under suspicion of having committed Spungen's murder, Vicious was released on bail; he was later arrested again for assaulting Todd Smith, brother of Patti Smith, at a nightclub, and underwent drug rehabilitation on Ryker's Island. In celebration of Vicious' release from prison, his mother hosted a party for him at his girlfriend's residence in Greenwich Village, which was attended notably by the Misfits bassist Jerry Only.
Vicious' mother had been supplying him with drugs and paraphernalia since he was young, and assisted him in procuring heroin late that night. Vicious died in his sleep, having overdosed on the heroin his mother had procured. Less than four weeks after Vicious' death, the soundtrack album of The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle was released. Later that year, on the 15th of December, a compilation of live material recorded during his brief solo career was packaged and released as Sid Sings. In the 1986 feature film Sid and Nancy, Gary Oldman gave a much-acclaimed performance as Sid.
Vicious was born John Simon Ritchie on the 10th of May 1957 in Lewisham, South East London, to John and Anne Ritchie (née McDonald). His mother dropped out of school early due to a lack of academic success and went on to join the RAF, where she met her husband-to-be, Ritchie's father. He was a guards man at Buckingham Palace and a semi-professional trombone player on the London Jazz scene. Shortly after Ritchie'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. Ritchie took his stepfather's surname and was known as John Beverley .
Ritchie's stepfather died six months later from cancer, and by 1968 he 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 Clevedon, Somerset.
Ritchie first met John Lydon in 1973, when they were both students at Hackney Technical College. Lydon describes Ritchie at this time as a David Bowie fan and a "clothes hound".
By the age of 17, Ritchie had begun to hang around London. One favourite spot was Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's then-little-known clothing store, SEX . There he met American expatriate Chrissie Hynde before she formed the Pretenders. Though at least five years older, she tried to convince Ritchie to join her in a sham marriage so she could get a work permit.
John Lydon nicknamed Ritchie "Sid Vicious", after Lydon's pet hamster, Sid. The hamster had bitten Ritchie, who
"Sid is really vicious!" The animal was described by Lydon as "the softest, furriest, weediest thing on earth." At the time, Ritchie was squatting with Lydon, John Joseph Wardle ( Jah Wobble ), and John Gray, and the four were colloquially known as "The Four Johns".
According to Lydon, he and Vicious would often busk for money, with Vicious playing the tambourine. They would play Alice Cooper covers, and people gave them money to be quiet. Once a man gave them "three bob" (three shillings, i.e., 15p in decimal UK currency) and they all danced.
Yet the darker side of Sid's personality emerged when he assaulted NME journalist Nick Kent with a motorbike chain, with help from Jah Wobble. 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 whispering Bob Harris .
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 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, Vicious was considered, along with Dave Vanian, for the position of lead singer for the Damned, but Vicious failed to show up for the audition.
Vicious later contended that Dave Vanian and associates had intentionally withheld information regarding the audition as an act of jealousy to ensure Vicious did not arrive. Soured by the experience, Vicious held a personal grudge for this perceived slight perpetrated against him by Vanian and The Damned, a grudge which would result in violence. 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 fueled 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 blinding a girl in one eye. Vicious was arrested the next day and imprisoned at Ashford Remand Centre. Westwood, likely working with McLaren to encourage Sid's worst instincts sent him a tome to read, written about Charles Manson, to keep him occupied during his imprisonment.
According to various publications (such as the biography England ' Dreaming by Jon Savage) and films (namely The Filth and the
Fury ), Vicious was asked to join the group after Glen Matlock's departure in February 1977, due to Vicious being present at every gig. Manager Malcolm McLaren once claimed "if Johnny Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the attitude."
McLaren also said in person and in a documentary that he'd met Vicious before he had hired Rotten to be the singer, Vicious would have been the Pistols' front man, because he had the most charisma of anyone on that stage.
Alan Jones described Vicious as "having the punklook.. Sid, on
image alone, is what all punk rests on." His nails would be painted in a sloppy manner with purple nail polish. Vicious played his first gig with the Pistols on the 3rd of April 1977 at The Screen On The Green in London. His debut was filmed by Don Letts and appears in Punk Rock Movie.
Sid was in the band, but the only trouble was that he could not play very well and had no bass guitar experience, so guitarist Steve Jones had to double on bass duties as well as guitar for the band's debut album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols barring two songs:
"Anarchy In The UK" (which was recorded with Matlock on bass and already out as a single) and " Bodies " which Sid was allowed to play on even though it would be over dubbed later on by Jones. Another reason for his absence for the album is that Vicious was in hospital with hepatitis (most likely from his drug use) and during that period his main visitor would have been his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, an American groupie and heroin addict whom he had met in 1977. She was also a part-time prostitute and stripper, and she is said to have introduced Sid to heroin, even though Sid was already abusing multiple drugs that his mother Anne supplied him with before he had met Nancy.
As 1977 came to a close, the Sex Pistols were arguably one of the most famous bands on the planet with vulgarity and obnoxiousness as well as Sid's hardcore punk personality as the absolute key to their ever growing stature. On Christmas Day 1977, the band played a matinee for the children of Huddersfield during the firemens strike . John Lydon claimed in the documentary Never Mind the Baubles that Sid needed to have a serious talking to beforehand because he wanted to be the "hardcore, tough rocker bloke" and that swearing and being tough wasn't "the right way" to "get the message across" to the children.
The recording of the Johnny Thunders song "Born to Lose" which appears on Sid Sings, featuring Sid on vocals, was recorded during this performance, when Johnny Rotten stepped off stage to pose as Father Christmas. These were the Sex Pistols' last performances in England until the Filthy Lucre reunion tour of 1996.
In January 1978, the group 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 Malcolm McLaren, Johnny Rotten and Sid, and occurred mainly because Rotten accused Malcolm of trying to "wreck the very thing that made the Sex Pistols great", and because of Sid's heavy heroin habit that was worsening, as well as his relationship with the audience members and what he would do with them.
Vicious famously hit an audience member who meant him physical harm on the head with his bass; the audience member had also annoyed Sid, who would eventually shout out "faggot fucker" before hitting him. Furthermore, no one could forget the time when Sid inscribed the words "Gimme a Fix" on his bare chest with a marker pen. In the autumn of 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's only contribution to the band during his tenure as a member, even though he originally wrote it while in the Flowers of Romance. Vicious would sing this song during his brief solo career after the band split up.
After the show at Winterland in San Francisco, (Live at Winterland 1978 was released in 2001), the group fell apart, and Sid, along with Nancy in arms, was free to do as he pleased. In doing so, 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.
SID VICIOUS "C'mon Everybody"
is a 1958 song by Eddie Cochran
With Spungen acting as his "manager", 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. Vicious performed the majority of his performances at Max's Kansas City and drew large crowds, though some performances were "hellish", especially when Sid insulted
some of the audience. Examples of this can be heard in the in
between tracks on his live album Sid Sings.
Guitarist Steve Dior said in the documentary film Who Killed Nancy that he "got good money for those shows". His 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.
Vicious's abilities as a bass player were debated. 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 yellow jaundice and he couldn't really play, not that he could play anyway." The only song that he played on in the studio was "Bodies". Vicious 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."
According to Paul Cook , in the few months between joining the band and meeting Spungen, Vicious was a dedicated worker and tried his hardest to learn to play; indeed, this period was Cook's favourite in the band. Viv Albertine went further
in defence 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. "Keith Levene, a member of The Flowers of Romance with Vicious and later a member of The Clash and then Public Image Ltd, also recounts a similar story:
"Could Sid play bass? I don't know, but one thing I do know was that Sid did things quickly. One night, he played the first Ramones album nonstop, all night, then next morning, Sid could play the bass.
That was it; he was ready! I told you Sid did things quickly!". By the time of
the last Sex Pistols concert at the Winterland Ballroom , San Francisco,
Vicious was a reasonably competent bass player, as is evident in the footage
of the gig, especially at the beginning during the soundcheck when he plays a
bass part from the song "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones.
On the morning of the 12th of October 1978, Vicious claimed to have awoken
from a drugged stupor to find Nancy Spungen dead on the bathroom floor of
their room in the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, New York. She had suffered a
single stab wound to her abdomen and appeared to have bled to death. The
knife used had been bought by Vicious on
42nd Street and was identical to a "007"
flip-knife given to punk rock vocalist Stiv
Bators of the Dead Boys by Dee Dee
Ramone. According to Dee Dee's wife at
the time, Vera King Ramone, Vicious had
bought the knife after seeing Stiv's.
Vicious was arrested and charged with
her murder. He said they had fought that
night but gave conflicting versions of what
happened next, saying, "I stabbed her, but
I never meant to kill her", then saying that he did not remember and at one point during the argument Spungen had fallen onto the knife. On 22 October, ten days after
Spungens Vicious attempted suicide by slitting his wrists with a smashed light bulb and was subsequently hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital where he also tried killing himself by jumping from a window as well as shouting "I want to be with my Nancy" or other similar words, but Sid was pulled back by hospital staff.
In an interview he gave in November 1978, he said that Nancy's death was "meant to happen" and that "Nancy always said she'd die before she was 21." Near the end of the interview, he was if he was having fun. In reply, he asked the interviewer if he was kidding, adding that he would like to be "under the ground." It was also at Bellevue that he met his lawyer James Merberg , who did everything he could to keep Vicious out of jail.
Vicious was charged with assault after attacking Todd Smith, singer Patti Smith's brother, at a Skafish concert at Hurrah, a New York dance club. Vicious was arrested on December the 9th 1978 and sent to Rikers Island metro jail for fifty-five days to undergo a painful and enforced detoxification. He was released on bail on February the 1st 1979. Bail was originally set at $50,000, but lowered after court hearings and negotiations from his lawyer.
Malcolm McLaren, the Sex Pistols' manager, worked to raise money and the bond was eventually covered by Virgin Records. John Lydon has stated that Mick Jagger stepped in and paid for the lawyers for Vicious, and has praised Jagger for never seeking any publicity for this.
On the evening of February the 1st 1979, a small gathering to celebrate Vicious having made bail was held at the 63 Bank Street, New York apartment of his new girlfriend, Michelle Robinson. Sid and Michelle had started dating in November after Sid was released from Bellevue Hospital the previous October. Vicious was clean, having been on a detoxification methadone program during his time at Rikers Island. At the dinner gathering, however, Sid had some heroin delivered by his friend, English photographer Peter Kodick , against the wishes of Sid's girlfriend and some other people at the party. It was also during this party that Sid had apparently spent the hours looking towards the future; he had plans for an album he was going to record to get his life and career on track should he be off the hook.
Vicious overdosed at midnight , but everyone who was there that night worked together to get him up and walking around in order to revive him. At 3:00 am, Vicious and Michelle Robinson went to bed together. Vicious died in the night and was discovered dead by Anne and Michelle early the next morning.
SID VICIOUS MUGSHOT 4334003
In his first interview, in the Daily Mirror's June 11th 1977 issue, Vicious said "I'll probably die by the time I reach 25. But I'll have
lived the way I wanted to."
A few days after Vicious' cremation, his mother allegedly found a suicide note in the pocket of his jacket:
We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots Goodbye.
Since Spungen was Jewish she was buried in a Jewish cemetery .
As Vicious was not Jewish, he could not be buried with her. According to the book Please Kill Me:
The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, Jerry Only of the Misfits drove Anne and her sister, and two of Sid's friends to the cemetery where Nancy was buried and Anne scattered Sid's ashes over Nancy Spungen's grave. In the same book, it is alleged that the cemetery didn't want to be associated with Vicious and his inherent negative reputation, and it is speculated that this was of greater importance to them than the above stated reason he and Nancy weren't able to be buried together.
In the pilot episode of documentary series Final 24, NYPD police sergeant Richard Houseman revealed, supposedly for the first time, that shortly after overdosing Vicious wanted another dose of heroin, but Michelle refused to be a part of it and left the room. When she told his mother, Anne Beverley, who was also at the party, what happened, Anne went into the bedroom.
Before her death in 1996, Anne confessed to journalist Alan G. Parker that she had then purposefully administered a fatal dose of heroin to Vicious because she knew that he was afraid of going back to prison and had doubts about how good his lawyers were, even though the lawyers were certain they were going to clear his name. After broadcast of this television documentary it later came out in an interview that Parker was lied to by the production team behind the show in order to make his "confession". Parker later directed his own film, Who Killed Nancy? (Soda Pictures) to set the record straight.
Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible
but don't let them take you ALIVE.