Sex Pistols’ bass player Sid Vicious has died of a heroin overdose in New York. His mother, Anne Beverley, found him dead in bed with his sleeping girlfriend in an apartment in Greenwich Village this morning.
There had been a party in the flat to celebrate Mr Vicious’ release on $50,000 bail yesterday pending his trial for the murder of his former girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, last October. The precise details of his death are unknown but party guests say Sid Vicious – real name John Simon Ritchie – took some heroin at midnight.
His mother, once a registered addict, said: "He knew the smack was pure and strong and took a lot less than usual." Shortly after taking the drug Mr Vicious, 21, collapsed, went into seizure and displayed the symptoms of overdose.
He revived 40 minutes later and went to bed with his girlfriend, Michelle Robinson, at about 0300 local time. The first police officer on the scene later in the morning was Robert Zink who discovered "a syringe, a spoon and what is probably residue near the body."
In retrospect he was obviously far safer in jail
Spokesperson for Virgin Records
The troubled punk musician – renowned for his violent behaviour – had been on a detoxification, methadone programme in prison, but he had developed a £40 a day habit since meeting Miss Spungen last year. It was the second time Virgin Records – the Sex Pistols’ label – had to bail out Sid Vicious.
He was re-arrested after his initial bail for assaulting Patti Smith’s brother, Todd, in a New York disco and had just served another 55 days in prison. A spokesman for Virgin boss Richard Branson said: "In retrospect he was obviously far safer in jail where the temptations that ultimately killed him were not present." Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McClaren – who was planning a comeback for the band – also blames the person who gave him the heroin at the party.
The autopsy confirmed Sid Vicious died from an accumulation of fluid on the lungs, characteristic of heroin abuse. Anne Beverley and Malcolm McClaren were involved in a wrangle over where Vicious should be buried.
Mr McClaren thought he should be buried in London, his home town, but Vicious’ wish was to be buried with Nancy Spungen in Philadelphia. Ms Beverley scattered her son’s ashes in the Jewish graveyard where Ms Spungen had been interred, without seeking the family’s permission.
The Sex Pistols re-formed for their 20th anniversary in 1996 with original bassist Glen Matlock taking the place of Sid Vicious.
Text from BBC’s On This Day