Punk Rock Musician. He is best remembered as a member of the British punk rock band "The Sex Pistols", and for his relationship with his American girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Born John Simon Ritchie in London, England, his father was a guard at Buckingham Palace, while his mother was more typically described as a hippie. When his father abandoned the family shortly after his birth, young John's mother took the child to the island of Ibiza, where she married Christopher Beverly in 1965, and then moved to Kent, England. Six months after returning to England, Christopher died, and his mother, poor, moved to a small apartment in Tunbridge Wells, where young John attended Sandown Court School. In 1971, John and his mother moved to Hackney, in East London. After completing high school, young John Ritchie moved in with some school friends, John Lydon, John Wardle and John Gray, sharing a small apartment. Ritchie and Lydon would beg for money on the sidewalks of London, to pay their portion of the rent. It would be John Lydon who gave Ritchie his stage name, when Lydon's pet hamster, Sid, bit Ritchie on his hand, and Ritchie exclaimed, "Sid is really vicious!" Lydon then nicknamed his friend, Sid Vicious, which Ritchie continued to use as a stage name. In 1976, Vicious began his musical career with "The Flowers of Romance" rock group, playing drums and occasionally attempting to sing. He also began courting other rock groups for a better position, and when Greg Matlock left the punk rock band, the Sex Pistols, Ritchie was there to ask for the position. Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren would later claim that "if [Johnny] Rotten is the voice of punk, then Vicious is the attitude." Although it was acknowledged by the band members that Vicious could not play the bass guitar, he did take lessons from other bands, and was eventually considered competent on the instrument over time. But in November 1977, Vicious met American groupie Nancy Spungen, and the two struck off a relationship. It was generally considered that Nancy brought out the worst in Vicious, and took him into a world of drug addiction and self-destruction. They would have extremely violent and vocal arguments, often in public, and soon became the popular topic of tabloids. When the Sex Pistols broke up as a band in 1978, Vicious and Spungen left for New York City, where Vicious continued his musical career. On the morning of October 12, 1978, Vicious woke up to find Spungen dead in their hotel bathroom, having been killed by a single knife thrust. The police investigated the incident, and arrested Vicious for the murder of Nancy Spungen, even though he claimed that he had no memory of the events of the evening, having been in a drug induced stupor for most of the evening. His mother paid the $50,000 bail, and after his release from prison, Vicious planned to record an album with his fellow Sex Pistols band members, Steve Jones and Paul Cook, in order to raise funds for his defense. Following Spungen's death, Vicious attempted suicide by cutting his arm and was taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. After his release from Bellevue, he was arrested in December 1978 and charged with assault when he smashed a beer mug into the face of a friend, Todd Smith, during an argument. After spending 55 days in Riker's Island Jail for this assault, he again made bail on February 1, 1979, and that evening he went to the home of his new girlfriend, Michelle Robinson, to celebrate his release. He was found dead the next morning in Robinson's bed, from an overdose of heroin that he took late the previous evening. His body was autopsied by Dr. Michael Baden, the New York City Chief Coroner, who determined that while Vicious was normally using only a 5 percent solution of heroin, the heroin in his system was 80 percent pure, ensuring an overdose. In addition, the autopsy showed that Vicious had drowned on his own fluids, common in persons who overdosed on heroin. His body was cremated, and the ashes location is unknown. Most believe that the ashes were probably scattered on Nancy Spungen's Philadelphia grave in the King David Cemetery, however, some people believe that his mother tipped over the urn in Heathrow Airport, sending the bulk of his ashes into the airport's ventilation system. Just before her own death in 1996, Vicious's mother, Anne Ritchie Beverly, confessed that she had deliberately injected her son that evening with a lethal dose, because she wanted to spare him from going to prison for the death of Spungen.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Anne Jeanette McDonald Beverley