Sid Vicious of Sex Pistols in colorful WPAP Pop-art vector.
By Toni Agustian 2011
Who Was Sid Vicious?
As a high school dropout, Sid Vicious’ “punk” look captured the eye of Malcom McLaren, creator of the Sex Pistols. After the band broke up in 1978, Vicious holed up in New York’s Chelsea Hotel with his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Their relationship was full of ups and downs, leading to the eventual mysterious murder of Spungen. Not long after, on February 2, 1979, Vicious was found dead in New York City.
Musician and singer Vicious was born John Simon Ritchie on May 10, 1957, in London, England. One of the most mythic figures of the 1970s punk explosion, Sid Vicious became famous for his edgy, rebellious persona and his self-destructive tendencies. As a teenager, he floundered, dropping out of school. Hanging around London, he was one of the many disaffected youth to embrace the punk spirit of anarchy and rebellion.
With his spiky hair, disheveled appearance, and bad attitude, Vicious was considered the ideal person to join the leading punk group, the Sex Pistols. He was brought in by the band’s manager, Malcolm McLaren, to replace original bassist Glen Matlock in 1977, even though he didn’t even know how to play the instrument.
McLaren had created the Sex Pistols in 1975. One of the leading forces in punk music, the band played fast-paced short songs, expressing angst and frustration about the social and political conditions of the time. Unlike music acts from previous generations, the group had no interest in producing hit records or pleasing anyone other than themselves. Even before Vicious joined, the Sex Pistols were known for causing quite a stir. During a live television interview in 1976, they spewed so many profanities that they were soon dropped by their record company.
Vicious was on board, however, for some of the group’s biggest sensations. On the single “God Save the Queen,” singer John Rotten (the stage name of John Lyndon) insulted Queen Elizabeth II, saying that she “ain’t no human being” and had a “fascist regime.” This upset many Britons, especially since 1977 was Queen’s Jubilee, the celebration of her 25 years as the reigning monarch. As a result, the band was physically attacked several times and unable to find places to play in the United Kingdom.
Still The Sex Pistols managed to sell a lot of records, especially considering the single was banned and many retailers refused to sell the resulting album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. There was no denying that they struck a chord with punk music fans.
On February 1, 1979, Vicious was released. He celebrated his newfound freedom with a party at the home of actress Michelle Robinson. Sometime that evening, Vicious returned to using heroin. The next morning he was found dead of a drug overdose.
His sudden death only fueled his legacy as a punk rock icon. His twisted love affair with Spungen was the inspiration for the 1986 film Sid and Nancy, starring actor Gary Oldman as Vicious.
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