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423_sidSex 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.

In Context
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

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335_sexpistolsThe music publisher EMI has ended its contract with the Sex Pistols punk rock group because of their notorious behaviour in public. In a statement, the company said: "EMI feels it is unable to promote this group’s records in view of the adverse publicity generated over the past two months."

The move follows the group’s appearance on ITV’s Today programme six weeks ago in which they used strong language.

       


I haven’t signed a single paper – as far as I’m concerned, we’re still on EMI   

Malcolm McLaren, Sex Pistols manager

Reports that they had sworn at Heathrow Airport staff and spat at each other while waiting to board a plane for the Netherlands yesterday proved to be the final straw. EMI broke the news to Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren by telephone this morning. But he denied the contract had been ended by mutual agreement. In Amsterdam preparing for a series of concerts and recordings, he told the BBC: "That’s rubbish. I haven’t signed a single paper – as far as I’m concerned, we’re still on EMI."

The four-man band – Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Sid Vicious – had only served three months of the two-year contract, worth £40,000, and release one single – Anarchy in the UK. EMI has also come under pressure to drop the group from the Conservative MP for Christchurch and Lymington, Robert Adley.

Last night, he wrote to the managing director, Sir John Read, saying: "Surely a group of your size and reputation could forgo the doubtful privilege of sponsoring trash like the Sex Pistols." Asked whether he would sign up another punk rock group, Sir John told the BBC: "Certainly. I am told there is a demand for this style of music and provided we can have groups that don’t attract the adverse publicity this group has had, we’ll certainly want to be in it."

In Context
In March 1977 the Sex Pistols signed up with A&M Records but were sacked soon afterwards.

By June they had joined Virgin and sold 150,000 copies of God Save the Queen in just one day. The single officially reached number two – despite a BBC Radio One ban and several high street chains refusing to stock it. It caused a national outrage in the year of the Queen’s Jubilee.

On 12 October 1978 Sid Vicious was charged with murdering his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. That same year the group disbanded. Sid Vicious died of a drug overdose on 2 February 1979 while out on bail. Virgin Records continued to release Sex Pistols music, including one compilation appropriately called Flogging a Dead Horse.

Then in 1986 former Sex Pistols won substantial damages against their ex-manager Malcolm McLaren.

Ten years later in 1996, the band reformed for their final worldwide tour – and live album Filthy Lucre – that lasted six months.

The band reformed again in 2002 and re-released God Save the Queen in response to the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. They came together again in August 2003 for a short USA tour.

Text from BBC’s On This Day

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