Rock N’ Roll Diary Extra: Sid Vicious Joins Sex Pistols 34 Years Ago Today
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
On this day in 1977, Johnny Rotten and the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Sex Pistols[/lastfm] welcomed a new member named John Simon Ritchie…Better known as [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Sid Vicious[/lastfm].
The Sex Pistols were on the rise as a leading voice in the emerging punk rock music and culture scene in late-1970s Britain, and the band realized that their original bassist, Glen Matlock, did not fit within the group dynamic.
Guitarist Steve Jones said in a 1977 interview that one of the reasons the band ended up kicking Matlock out was because he “liked [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]the Beatles[/lastfm].” Not very anti-establishment, indeed.
Matlock also complained about the lyrics to the band’s would-be classic punk anthem “God Save The Queen,” condemning them as fascists. This and a host of other factors ended up forcing the band to find a replacement.
In retrospect, it’s clear that the band may have just gone a little too far in the opposite direction when thinking about the right person to replace Matlock.
Sid Vicious, a former drummer, joined the band without a lick of bass guitar knowledge. He was merely a friend and protegé of Johnny Rotten’s, a self-proclaimed fan of the Sex Pistols, and a frequent visitor to punk shows in the U.K. Rotten seemed to want him in the band more because of his persona and reputation than his musical ability (or lack thereof).
What was Sid Vicious’ reputation at the time? His two most notorious incidents happened at U.K. rock clubs, where he threw a glass on stage injuring a woman severely, and beating rock critic Nick Kent with a bicycle chain.
Sure, Sid couldn’t play a single note on the bass. But give him a deadly weapon and he knows just what to do!
It was when the Sex Pistols’ popularity took off that Sid really began to spiral down. If he was a speeding freight train before, he finally went off the rails after he met Nancy Spungen.
A notorious prostitute and drug addict, Spungen is widely believed to have introduced Sid to heroin, which ultimately consumed his life. The true story of what happened the night of Nancy’s death, the story behind the 1986 movie Sid and Nancy, remains a mystery to this day.
Though Sid had cleaned up by the time he was out of jail, a delivery of heroin to his house on a night of celebration led him to relapse and overdose that very night.
Sid’s volatile life ended way too young, and serves as something of a microcosm for The Sex Pistols as a group.
The Sex Pistols- and their lone studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks- burned out as quickly as it exploded, but remains one of the most fiery punk albums ever created.
They began as a band with a mission, but no one to light a fire under them to achieve it. It was 34 years ago today that Sid Vicious lit the fuse.