Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Fabulous Disaster

John Simon Ritchie AKA Sid Vicious, defined the rock and roll tragedy of live fast and die young. The "bass" player from the Sex Pistols reached cult status due to his outrageous behavior, tragic relationship with Nancy Spungeon, and young death at the age of 21. Why the "" around bass? According to Motörhead's Lemmy in an interview with Room13:  

R13: Is it true you tried to teach Sid Vicious how to play the bass?
L: Yeah. It was all uphill. And he still couldn't play bass when he died, I mean, fucking hell. Well, and everybody knows that, just listen to the Sex Pistols record that he was on, you know, you can tell it's Steve standing in for him. In fact I'm not sure if Sid was ever on the record, I think it was Steve who played bass.

He met John Lydon, AKA Johnny Rotten, in 1973 and eventually would came up with the name Sid Vicious. For those music trivia buffs out there, Sid was the name of Ritchie's per hamster. Upon being bit by the hamster, Lydon is rumored to have said "this hamster Sid is vicious." Voila !

Chelsea Hotel, 2012, pmc
Erratic behavior from sweet to raging violent. But Sid showed in the mockumentary The Great Rock and Roll Swindle that he did have talent. The boy could really sing. It was, however, his on and off stage antics that he would be more known for. Drugs, alcohol, partying, filth: that was Sid in a nutshell.

It would be, sadly, his relationship with Nancy Spungeon, that would make him infamous. On October 12, 1978, Sid would find Nancy dead, stabbed in their room at the Chelsea Hotel. Their tumultuous relationship filled with fights, abuse and drugs. Nancy had left her Pennsylvania home for London and met Sid. It would be a love made in hell for both of them.
Sid would eventually  be charged with second degree murder and taken to Riker's Island, pleading his innocence the entire time. Was it a drug induced fight? Was it a drug dealer looking for money? No one alive will ever know what really happened. February 1, 1979, Sid was released after posting bail. Sid, clean after going through a detox program, attended a party in his honor. Sid would though inject heroin again that night, against the wishes of his new girlfriend. It would then be his own mother responsible for the death of her son as she gave her son the final injection that would kill him early in the morning on February 2, 1979.
In a 1977 interview with the Daily Mail, Sid told the interviewer  I'll probably die by the time I reach 25. But I'll have lived the way I wanted to.  In a reported suicide note found in his leater jacket, Sid's only wish was to be buried by Nancy. Because she was Jewish, Sid's ashes were instead scattered over her grave.
It is indeed a very tragic tale, but mythically kept alive as if it was some sort of Punk Romeo and Juliet. Infamous stardom, fame, drugs, love, death and debauchery: the life of John Simon Ritchie. 

Sid and Nancy the film, starring Gary Oldman (and you can see Courtney Love in a few scenes)

Sid going to see an idol in concert - David Bowie 1973

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