Sid Vicious’s Kentish Sex Pistols early days before fame and tragic death
Perhaps no musical genre was as defining for the times as punk was for the UK in the late 70s and early 80s. Capturing the spirit of youthful rebellion and anti-establishment ideology, much of this legendary music scene is as relevant today as it was over 40 years ago.
One band stands out amongst the rest when it comes to the UK punk scene, and that is undoubtedly the Sex Pistols. From the content of their music, the clothes they wore and the crowds they inspired, everything about them screamed punk and they were one of the defining gender groups.
What many may not know though, is that this legendary group has a very strong connection to Kent. Band bassist Sid Vicious, real name Simon Ritchie, was born in Kent and spent much of his upbringing there.
Read more: How an unassuming rail platform in Dartford gave birth to the Rolling Stones
While his band enjoyed widespread popularity and success, Sid Vicious’ real-life story isn’t all that glamorous and tragic until his untimely death at the age of 21.
Early life in Kent
Born May 10, 1957 in Lewisham, Simon John Ritchie was the son of John and Anne Ritchie. Anne was a school dropout who had joined the British Army while John was a guard at Buckingham Palace.
Shortly after Simon was born, he and his mother moved to Ibiza hoping to be joined by John, but he never arrived and never provided financial support for the two. Here, Anne is said to have started selling marijuana to get by before help from the British High Commission in Spain enabled her and her son to return to the UK.
The two then settled into a flat in Tunbridge Wells, where Simon attended Sandown Court School, now known as The Skinners’ Kent academy. In 1965 Anne remarried to Christopher Beverley who died six months later of kidney failure.
Anne and her son then spent some time moving from place to place, settling in Bristol, Somerset and Hackney. By 1973, Anne’s life had become totally consumed by her heroin and opioid addiction, to the point that she didn’t even know that John, now called John Beverley, was attending Westminster Kingsway College.
Meanwhile John was rather open to counseling about his mental health issues, there had also been allegations that he was torturing and killing cats. At the age of 16, he was kicked out of his home.
Around this time he earned the nickname Sid Vicious and befriended John Lyndon, better known as Johnny Rotten, and Steve Jones who he would later team up with in the Sex Pistols. Despite the band’s formation in 1975, Sid would not join the band until 1977, replacing former bassist Glen Matlock.
Life with the Sex Pistols
Sid Vicious officially joined the Sex Pistols in February 1977 after disagreements within the band saw former bassist Glenn Matlock leave. Even before playing his first gig with the band, Sid had well and truly joined the rock n’ roll lifestyle, helping to trash the offices of A&M Records and getting into fights with BBC DJ Bob Harris, which which resulted in the band’s withdrawal from A&M Records. and all their music banned from Capital Radio.
This was only a minor hurdle for the band however, as they achieved great success with their hit and only studio album ‘Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols’ which was released on October 28, 1977 and was dubbed the most influential punk. rock album of all time. The band only grew in popularity and even landed a two-week tour of America, although it was here that tensions began to grow.
The Fall of Sid Vicious
Following the growing success of the Sex Pistols, Sid continued to struggle very hard with drug and alcohol abuse which culminated in his indictment for the murder of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in 1978 amid a haze fueled by the drug. After a hotel party the two had thrown together, Vicious took around 30 Tuinal pills and was found wandering the hallway in the early hours when Nancy was found dead in the bathroom with a knife in her mouth. abdomen. Sid was released on $50,000 bail.
Vicious will overdose on heroin on February 2, 1979, after completing a drug rehabilitation program. Many believe that this overdose was deliberate and that he and Nancy Spugnen planned a pact to die together. He was cremated at the Garden State Crematory in New Jersey.
The music of the Sex Pistols and the legacy of Sid Vicious are still very present today, even though they were only known to the public for a few years. The surviving members of the group reunited in a 1996 performance titled Filthy Lucre.
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