Happy Birthday Sid Vicious!
“If Johnny Rotten is the voice of Punk, then Vicious is the attitude.”
It’s claimed Sid Vicious took his name from Johnny Rotten’s pet hamster, Sid, who in turn was named after Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. Quite a departure from the aggressive, volatile persona that defined the Sex Pistols bassist. Born John Simon Ritchie on 10th May 1957 in Lewisham, Vicious met Johnny Rotten at Hackney Technical College. The pair would busk in the streets performing Alice Cooper covers, with Vicious on the tambourine and Rotten wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’.
Despite having very limited musical ability, Sid was a prominent figure in London’s punk scene. He performed with punk band The Flowers of Romance, alongside Keith Levene (formerly of The Clash), Palmolive and Viv Albertine of the Slits and played drums for Siouxsie & The Banshees at the infamous 100 Club Punk Festival in 1976.
Vicious joined the Sex Pistols in early 1977, replacing bassist Glen Matlock. Although he featured on just one track of ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’, his lack of musical skill was of little consequence. With his expertly crafted wardrobe, unpredictable behaviour and self-destructive lifestyle, Vicious became the poster boy for punks in Seventies London.
A regular at Vivienne Westwood’s SEX boutique on the Kings Road, Vicious established his signature look; spiked hair, tight jeans, ripped tee and leather jacket emblazoned with pins and badges, a style that would go on to define the punk aesthetic.
At the age of 21, just four months after the death of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, Vicious was found dead from an overdose. In his pocket was a crumpled note; “Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye.”
Happy Birthday Sid Vicious; an icon of British rebellion and punk legend.