Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1979, died Sid Vicious. 

Vicious was a punk rock musician and drug abuser best remembered for his role in the group, Sex Pistols.  

John Simon Ritchie was born on May 10th 1957 in London, the son of John and Anne Ritchie. In his childhood he lost a father by desertion and a stepfather by death, and lived at varying locations ranging from Ibiza to Hackney. He was educated at Sandown Court School, Tunbridge Wells, and Hackney Technical College.  

In 1975, he became associated with John Lyndon, aka Johnny Rotten, and John Wardle, aka Jah Wobble. It was at this time that Ritchie took on the name of Sid Vicious, the name of Rottenís pet hamster who was named Sid the Vicious on account of his unfortunate predilection for biting the fingers of those who offered him nourishment.  

Vicious began his musical career with The Flowers of Romance, a punk rock band, more famous for its guitarists, Vicious and Keith Levene, than for its music, none of which earned a recording label. On one occasion, Vicious joined Siouxsie and The Banshees, as a drummer, at a gig, which became notorious for its violent outcome. It was claimed that Vicious attacked a girl with a beer glass and assaulted a journalist with a bicycle chain. Although it is true that a guest at the occasion was seriously injured by shattered glass, no evidence was produced and no charges were forthcoming.      

In 1977, Vicious achieved a coveted place in the punk band, Sex Pistols, upon the departure of Glen Matlock. It is said that Vicious obtained his place more for his punk looks than he musical ability. In the Sex Pistolsí biography, Englandís Dreaming, Jon Savage recounts that at gigs, Viciousí amplifier was switched off and in recordings, another guitarist played bass parts. In 1977, the band had a number two hit with God Save the Queen, a satire on the political establishment, but their other recordings were unexceptional.  Later that year, Vicious became involved with Nancy Spungen, an American groupie and drug addict, know as Nauseating Nancy, on account of her verbal tirades on the press and whoever else was at hand.  

Spungen accompanied Vicious and the Sex Pistols on their 1978 American circuit until the tour came to an abrupt end with the break up of the group. Vicious took up a solo career, managed by Spurgen, but his output was limited on account of their continually overdosing on heroin. The relationship ended when Vicious, on waking from a drug induced stupor, found Spurgen dead from a stab wound to the abdomen.

Vicious was arrested and charged with murder but, due to his lack of memory of events and the paucity of evidence, was released on bail of $50,000, pending further enquiries. In 1979, at a party held to celebrate his release, Vicious overdosed on heroin and was discovered dead the next morning.

Viciousí body was cremated and, according to some reports, his ashes were scattered over Spurgenís grave. But, according to a Guardian report, the ashes were returned to London and, due to an accident at Heathrow Airport, the cinerary urn was overturned and the remains unceremoniously scattered in the arrivals lounge.


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