40 Years Ago: Sid Vicious Dies
On Feb. 2, 1979, the Sex Pistols' infamous bassist Sid Vicious was found dead. He was 21 years old. Despite having dubious musical skills, Vicious (born John Simon Ritchie) joined the Sex Pistols in late 1977 after original bassist Glen Matlock was forced out of the group, and became the spiky haired caricature of punk rock to the media.
The previous October, Vicious had been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. He was arrested and jailed to await trial, with bail set at $50,000. The money was put up partly by Richard Branson – the band's record label boss – and partially by Mick Jagger, who it was recently revealed made his contribution anonymously.
There was speculation at the time that Spungen's murder was actually part of a botched double suicide pact the couple had made.
Amid murder charges, drug addiction and a constant media barrage, Sid was not long for this world. After being released, his troubles continued. He was arrested again in December and charged with assault. He made bail once again and met up with his mother, Anne Beverley, a fellow junkie, who was living in New York at the time.
Despite being clean for three months, the lure of heroin was reportedly too strong and Vicious asked his mother to score for him. Vicious had overdosed before, but this would be the last time. His body was found by his mother and a girlfriend the following morning. Sid's mother committed suicide in 1996.
"I feel nothing but grief and sorrow and sadness for Sid. He was someone I really cared for," Lydon said in the documentary The Filth and the Fury. "I lost my friend. I couldn't have changed it. I was too young. You can look back on it and go, 'I could have done something.' Vicious ... poor sod."