Sly, aka John Simon Ritchie, Sid Vicious
Sly was born May 10th, 1957. He was born in England, and spent his teen years in London. A high-school dropout, at a young age he was recruited by Malcolm McLaren to join a band that McLaren had created to exploit the disaffected youth of London.
That band was called the 'Sex Pistols', named in part after McLaren's boutique, 'Sex.'Sly was approximately 19 when the Pistols made it to the very top of the music industry in 1977 with songs like 'Anarchy in the U.K.' and 'God Save the Queen', which made number one on the charts despite being censored (The Billboard chart had a blank spot at Number One).
The Sex Pistols were a smartly packaged group representing rebellion and anarchy, even as they were basically about making money. Sid, however, was no act: cruel, nasty, self-destructive, he personified that which the Sex Pistols purported to represent.
Sid & Nancy
Raised in southern England by his mother, Anne Beverly, a troubled single mother who had her own history of heroin
use, Sid was lonelier offstage than his bad-boy persona suggested.
"Deep down he was a shy person," wrote photographer
Dennis Morris in a pictorial history of the band, 1991's Never
Mind the Bollocks. "I think he was frightened of the audiences.
. . . Sometimes he showed no emotion at all." At 16, after
his first few one-night stands, says Beverley, Sid told her, "Mum,
I don't know what people see in sex. I don't get anything out
The daughter of an upper-middle-class Philadelphia businessman,
Nancy had problems "almost since birth," says her mother,
Deborah Spungen. "She was volatile." An emotionally
disturbed high school grad, she abused drugs and repeatedly attempted
suicide. But when she met the 19-year-old John Simon Ritchie in
1977 at a friend's London flat, she could hardly be described
as aimless. "Nancy came to England with the express wish,
much like a groupie, to bed a Sex Pistol," says Pamela Rooke,
a buddy of Sid's who was working at a punk clothing shop on London's
trendy Kings Road at the time. "And in a way, Sid was easy
Nancy, who had worked as a prostitute in London, figured out
how to turn him on. They moved into Rooke's flat, not far from
Buckingham Palace, sharing a mattress on the dining room floor.
"Everybody wanted to be with Sid, but unfortunately he came
with Nancy," says Rooke, now a veterinary nurse on the southern
coast of England. "She was unbelievably thick-skinned, one
of the most unlikable people I've met. Everybody could see through
The two were archetypally codependent. "Sid didn't have
any normal, ordinary relationships, and I think the sex part overtook
him," says Rooke. "I always saw him as being the child
to Nancy as mum. She was one of those doting people, and he had
never had that in his life." Predictably, Nancy's overbearing
presence soon led to friction with the band. Lead singer John
Lydon (then billed as Johnny Rotten) "would plead with him
to get rid of her, but to Sid she was like a crutch," writes
Morris. "When they were together he was like a kitten, but
without her he would go crazy." In time, says Nils Stevenson,
the Sex Pistols' tour manager, Sid came to "dislike everything--
except heroin and Nancy." Things came to a head in 1978,
on the Pistols' only major tour. Throughout the American concert
dates, Sid "was erratic," according to Morris. "No
one knew why. It seemed he missed Nancy. Sometimes he wouldn't
eat at all. He'd drink heavy and take lots of drugs." Fed
up, John flew back to Britain halfway through the tour. Nancy
joined Sid in New YorkCity.
After the couple moved into the Chelsea Hotel in August, their
relationship took an even stormier turn. "There was a violent
episode four days before she died," says Deborah Spungen.
"She said he'd been hitting her. I spent the next days worrying.
And then she didn't call. And never called again."
On the morning of Oct. 12, responding to a report of a domestic
dispute, police entered their Chelsea Hotel room and found Spungen,
clad in blood-soaked bra and panties, crumpled under the bathroom
sink, dead of a single, deep stab wound to her abdomen. Sid, in
a drugged haze, was charged with her murder and released on $50,000
bail. In several telephone calls to Deborah Spungen after his
arrest, Sid "never said he was sorry," she recalls.
"He never said anything about it happening at all."
Ten days later, Sid attempted suicide, slashing the full length
of his forearm with a knife and reportedly screaming, "I
want to be with my Nancy! I want to be left alone!"
After Nancy's death, Beverley flew to Manhattan to be with
her son who, despite a stint in rehab, was still nursing his drug
habit. On Feb. 1, 1979, fearful that he would be arrested in a
drug buy on the street, she bought a supply of heroin for him,
and was with him in the Greenwich Village apartment of a friend
that night while he injected it. Afterward, "I swear to God
he appeared to have a pink aura around his whole body," she
remembers. The next morning, when she brought him a cup of tea,
"he was lying there quite peacefully. I shook him until I
realized he was very cold and very dead."
Late one night, a few dayslater, Beverley climbed the wall
to a cemetery outside Philadelphia and, against the wishes of
the Spungen family, scattered her son's ashes in the snow over
Nancy's grave. Although authorities never officially determined
whether Sid's death was by accident or design, Anne Beverley has
little doubt. As evidence, she offers the worn piece of paper
on which Sid scrawled a poem, simply titled "Nancy,"
to his departed love: "You were my little baby girl/And I
knew all your fears/Such joy to hold you in my arms/And kiss away
your tears/But now you're gone/There's only pain/And nothing I
can do/And I don't want to live this life/If I can't live for