Sid Vicious: The Violent Life of an Addict

Last modified: August 8, 2013 02:59:20 AM

Sid Vicious, punk icon of the 1970’s.

Sid Vicious, born John Simon Ritchie in London, England on May 10, 1957, shot to fame in the mid-to-late 1970’s as the bass player for the leading punk band at the time, the Sex Pistols.  However, what is might be remembered for most today is the fact that his music career disintegrated before his eyes due to his escalating drug abuse which led to the death of his girlfriend Nancy Spungeon in 1979 under violent circumstances and his own death a few months later in 1980.

Vicious, in 1977, was brought into the Sex Pistols by manager Malcolm McLaren as a replacement for bassist Glen Matlock.  Although Vicious couldn’t play bass, (and by most accounts never did learn how to play properly), McLaren thought that his spiky hair, self-destructive tendencies, bad attitude and slovenly appearance would resonate with the masses of disaffected youth that were in the United Kingdom at the time.    The Sex Pistols played fast-paced songs that were short in duration and expressed anger and frustration about the economic and social problems of the time and were already something of a sensation.  However, once Vicious was on board, the band’s popularity simply exploded, especially with the release of “God Save the Queen” in which Queen Elizabeth II was insulted.

The same year that “God Save the Queen” was released, Vicious met Nancy Spungeon and the two, from the moment they met, were never apart.  Vicious’ band mates claim that Spungeon was responsible for Vicious’ rapidly escalating drug abuse; in fact, Spungeon accompanied them on their tour of the United States.  The amount of drugs both Vicious and Spungeon were consuming caused the Sex Pistols to disintegrate, and before even ten shows were performed, the Sex Pistols split up.

Vicious and Spungeon moved to the Chelsea hotel in New York City; Spungeon became his manager and did manage to get him a few shows, however his performance was below even mediocre standards as he was intoxicated with drug cocktails most of the time.  While the pair did try to get clean, they ended up even more addicted than ever, and their existence became dedicated to feeding their drug habits.  Reports say that both were addicted to and actively consuming heroin, barbiturates, a synthetic form of morphine, and other substances.

In a drug induced haze on October 12, 1979, Nancy Spungeon had been found in their Chelsea hotel room, dead from a stab wound to her abdomen, and Vicious was found wandering in the hotel.  He confessed to killing her although he couldn’t remember what had happened.  He was charged with second-degree murder.

Vicious was released on bail a few days later, and attempted to commit suicide.  He got into a fight in a bar, and was put back into prison for seven weeks, during which time he became clean.  He was released on February 1, 1980, and at a party celebrating his release, he overdosed on heroin and was found dead the next morning by his girlfriend.  Originally it was said it was his mother who gave him the fatal dose of drugs as a gift to celebrate his release from jail. However, in 2009  Peter Gravelle finally came clean and said that it was him who handed his friend Sid Vicious, his last half-gram of heroin.

If you or someone you care about is having problems with substance abuse, call a professional medical expert who can help you on the path to sobriety today.