Today commemorates the 32nd anniversary of the death of one of the most infamous musicians in history: Sid Vicious.
Born John Simon Ritchie in London, England, Vicious began his music career in the 1970s appearing in various punk bands around the city. In 1977 he got a huge break when he was asked to play bass guitar for the notorious English punk band, the Sex Pistols.
Punk rock has always been far more about attitude than musical ability; Sid Vicious had little ability, but more than enough attitude. He had the gnarled, dirty look that early punk rock displayed and the snarling, dangerous personality that few genuine punk rockers before or since have been able to emulate. The late 1970s is defined by punk rock and Vicious has always been the poster boy.
He persuaded Motorhead bassist Lemmy to teach him to play, which according to the rock god, was not a success. But Vicious persevered and taught himself to play along to records by the Ramones, reportedly over the course of one night. He could also sing and his version of â€œMy Wayâ€ plays over the end credits of Goodfellas.
Despite his success on stage, Sid Vicious was never far from tragedy. A known drug user, Vicious battled addiction and entered rehab programs. He was arrested for the murder of his then-girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, and was on bail when his life came to a tragic, premature end.
Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose February 2, 1979, aged only 21.
Despite only playing bass on the track â€œBodiesâ€ on the Sex Pistols classic (and only) studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, his influence on music and popular culture is still evident 32 years after his death. Viciousâ€™ life has been portrayed in films (Gary Oldman portrayed him in 1986’s Sid & Nancy), stage plays, and even in cartoons. Punk rock musicians still try and copy him, but there will never be another like Sid Vicious.