Sid Vicious (born John Simon Ritchie, 10 May 1957 – 2 February 1979) was an English bassist and vocalist, most famous as a member of the influential punk rock band the Sex Pistols.
Vicious joined the Sex Pistols in early 1977 to replace Glen Matlock, who had fallen out of favour with the rest of the group. Due to intravenous drug use, Vicious was hospitalised with hepatitis during the recording of the band’s only studio album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. Accordingly, his bass is only partially featured on one song from the album. Vicious would later appear as a lead vocalist, performing three cover songs, on the soundtrack to The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle, a largely fictionalised documentary about the Sex Pistols, produced by the group’s former manager Malcolm McLaren and directed by Julien Temple.
During the Sex Pistols’ brief, chaotic ascendancy, Vicious met eventual girlfriend and manager Nancy Spungen, and the pair entered a destructive codependent relationship based on drug use. This culminated in Spungen’s death from an apparent stab wound while staying in New York City’s Hotel Chelsea with Vicious. Under suspicion of having committed Spungen’s murder, Vicious was released on bail; he was later arrested again for assaulting Todd Smith, brother of Patti Smith, at a night club, and underwent drug rehabilitation on Rikers Island. In celebration of Vicious’s release from prison, his mother hosted a party for him at his girlfriend’s residence in Greenwich Village, which was attended notably by the Misfits bassist Jerry Only. Vicious’s friend Peter Kodick assisted him in procuring heroin, and he died in his sleep after overdosing on it.
Less than four weeks after Vicious’s death, the soundtrack album of The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle was released. On 15 December 1979, a compilation of live material recorded during his brief solo career was packaged and released as Sid Sings. Gary Oldman later portrayed Vicious in a 1986 biopic entitled Sid and Nancy.