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- Posted on Oct 3rd 2008 5:00PM by James Sullivan
Born to a hippie mother and a father who was reportedly a guard at Buckingham Palace, John Simon Ritchie took the punk surname "Vicious" from Johnny Rotten's pet hamster. Following the infamous flameout of the Sex Pistols, Sid attempted a solo career, drawing rowdy crowds to the New York nightclub Max's Kansas City. He and Spungen were deep into mutual drug dependency, holed up in their room at the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, when Nancy died of a mysterious single stab wound to the stomach, on their bathroom floor. Sid claimed to have no recollection of the incident. Though some speculated the murder may have been committed by one of two known drug dealers to have visited the room, others believed Sid had failed to hold up his end of a suicide pact.
Several days after Nancy's death, Vicious was hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital after an attempt to kill himself. Meanwhile, Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren arranged for prominent defense attorney F. Lee Bailey to take Sid's case, and McLaren's London shop started selling T-shirts that read, "I'm Alive. She's Dead. I'm Yours."
Having posted bail after being charged with Nancy's murder, Sid was arrested for assaulting Patti Smith's brother Todd with a glass at Max's. From December 1978 to early February 1979, he served time at Rikers Island. Out again on bail, he managed to score some potent heroin. Clean since his jail term, his tolerance level was low, and he overdosed in his sleep that night. By some accounts, it was Sid's own mother, Anne Beverley, who gave her son the drugs that killed him.
After Sid's body was cremated, his mother found a suicide note in his leather jacket. In it, he asked to be buried next to "my baby" in his leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Legend has it that his mother climbed into snow-covered King David Cemetery in Bucks County, Penn., to scatter his ashes over Nancy's grave, despite the Spungen family's repeated warnings to be left alone.
According to Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren, however, Beverley actually brought her son's ashes home to London. In a drunken accident at Heathrow Airport, she supposedly spilled the remains all over the arrival lounge.
If that was Sid's ignominious end, his old friend Johnny Rotten would have found it sadly fitting. "There's nothing glorious in dying," as the punk anarchist would write in his autobiography. "Anyone can do it."