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The Sex Pistols were, despite their short existence, a very influential British punk band. Of the original set of U.K. punk bands, The Clash were perhaps more articulate and politically motivated, The Damned more versatile, and Buzzcocks possessed of more astute pop sensibilities. But the Pistols achieved more recognition through their iconic punk rock passion and flamboyancy, and no other band of the era made such a lasting impression on British popular culture.
Sid Vicious; Simon John Ritchie-Beverly (May 10, 1957 – February 2, 1979), better known as Sid Vicious, was an English punk rock musician and bass player of the Sex Pistols. He died of a drug overdose at the age of 21.
Ritchie was born in London to parents John (a former grenadier guard) and Anne Ritchie. His father left shortly afterwards, and, during his early years, he moved with his mother to the Spanish island of Ibiza, where she allegedly made a living selling drugs. The pair later moved back to England, where Anne married Christopher Beverly in 1965 before setting up a family home in Kent, England.
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.
According to Lemmy Kilmister in an interview in Mojo, Ritchie at age fourteen was selling LSD at Hawkwind concerts.
By 1974 he had already begun using drugs intravenously with his mother, particularly amphetamines. By 1975, he had started to self harm and exhibited antisocial tendencies; some accounts of his life relate that he assaulted a pensioner around this time.
Described by peers as "slender and likable", Ritchie took the stage name "Sid Vicious," which reportedly came from an ironic joke involving the name of John Lydon"s pet hamster "Sid," which had apparently bitten Sid and subsequently been dubbed "Vicious" by him. Although Simon was his real first name, he often referred to himself as "John." At the time, he was squatting with John Lydon, John Wardle (Jah Wobble) and John Gray. (The four were sometimes referred to as The Four Johns).
Sid reportedly made a deliberate effort to match the media myths that grew up around him and his name, although John Lydon reportedly commented, "Sid couldn"t punch his way out of a bag of crisps!"
Already known as "the ultimate Sex Pistols fan," and a close friend of vocalist Johnny Rotten, Vicious was asked to join the group after Glen Matlock"s departure in February 1977. Manager Malcolm McLaren once claimed: If Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the look. His punk character was considered far more helpful than any knack for playing, as he was not renowned for his playing skills, though he did have some ability, as was later shown when he composed the track "Belsen Was A Gas" entirely by himself. Jon Savage"s biography of the Sex Pistols, England"s Dreaming, recounts that most of the bass parts on the band"s later recordings were played by guitarist Steve Jones and at later live performances Sid"s amplifier was sometimes switched off. Sid is said to have asked Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead to teach him how to play bass with the words, "I can"t play bass." Kilmister"s reply was (according to Kilmister himself) "I know." In his autobiography No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, Lydon writes, "he wasn"t too bad at all for three-chord songs." Sid played his first gig with the Pistols on April 3, 1977, at the Screen on the Green in London. His debut was filmed by Don Letts and appears in Punk Rock Movie.
Meanwhile Ritchie and Spungen had become locked in their own world of drug addiction and self-destruction. Interview footage shows the couple attempting to answer questions from their bed: Spungen is barely coherent while Ritchie lapses in and out of consciousness. He also came very close to death following a heroin overdose and was hospitalized for a time.
On the morning of October 12, 1978 Ritchie allegedly awoke from a drugged stupor to find Spungen crumpled dead on the bathroom floor of their room (room 100) in the Hotel Chelsea in New York. She had received a single stab wound to her abdomen and apparently bled to death. Ritchie was arrested and charged with her murder although he said he had no memory of having done so. However, he later claimed to have "killed her because I"m a dirty dog." There are several theories that Spungen was murdered by someone else, usually said to be one of the two drug dealers who visited the apartment that night, and involving a possible robbery as certain items (including a substantial bankroll) were claimed to be missing from the room.