AKA John Simon Ritchie
Birthplace: London, England
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Accident - Overdose
Remains: Cremated, (ashes scattered over Nancy Spungen's grave)
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: Sex Pistols bassist
Aparticularly extreme example of the self-immolating celebrity -- and one of the first high-profile casualties of the punk era -- John Simon Ritchie a.k.a. Sid Vicious was given his education in unhealthy lifestyles early in his existence, his mother Anne using (and sometimes selling) heroin throughout his childhood. His father, a Grenadier Guard in the British Army named John Ritchie, left thefamily shortly after his son's birth, and his stepfather Christopher Beverly died after only six months, leaving Anne to raise young John Simon primarily on her own. Shortly after the dissolution of her first marriage, Anne relocated herself and her son to the Spanish island of Ibiza, returning to England in 1965 just prior to her second marriage and living in Kent for several years before moving toHackney in 1971. It was here that John made the acquaintance of John Lydon while both were attending Hackney Technical College in 1974; it was also during this period that he initiated his own drug use and began to cultivate the destructive behavior that would earn him such notoriety in later years.
Ultimately, John Ritchie dropped out of school and spent his time hanging around with theso-called "Bromley Contingent", a gang of disaffected youths that adopted the music and fashions of the emerging UK punk rock scene and maintained an orbit around the John Lydon (now "Johnny Rotten")-fronted band The Sex Pistols. In the summer of 1976 Ritchie became a member of The Flowers of Romance alongside future Public Image Limited guitarist Keith Levene, but the group never actually did anythingin public; before the end of the year he had joined Siouxsie and the Banshees as a drummer, although this situation did not endure far beyond the group's debut performance in September of 1976. Afterwards, while living in a squat with both Lydon and John Wardle (later Jah Wobble), Ritchie chose to call himself Sid Vicious in order to distinguish himself from the overabundance of Johns, andsubsequently did his best to live up to the anti-social implications of his new name. By early 1977 he had been drafted into the Pistols to replace departing bass player Glen Matlock, despite the marked limitations of his playing ability (supposedly, Vicious's bass was turned down during many Pistols shows, and his recorded parts were actually performed by either Matlock or guitarist Steve Jones).Prior to Vicious's membership, the Sex Pistols had already earned themselves widespread notoriety for their combative attitudes and use of profanity (a couple of fucks and a shit) during an interview on national television with Bill Grundy; their debut single Anarchy in the U.K., released by EMI in November of '76, also created a considerable stir around the band despite EMI's decision to ceasemanufacturing it after less than two months. Vicious helped to maintain this anarchic reputation by vandalizing the office of A&M's Managing Director (an act he consummated by puking on the director's desk) during the party celebrating their signing to the label. The band was forced to find a new home a week later, and thus it was that their next single God Save the Queen was instead released by Virginin May of 1977. The song instigated an even stronger negative response than Anarchy in the U.K., but the resulting hype also successfully pushed it up to the #2 position in the British charts -- although there is some evidence to suggest that it might have actually reached #1.
Issued in October, the Pistols' debut full-length Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols lived up to the...