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Happy 50th Birthday, Sid
May 10, 2007 5:12 AM   Subscribe

Happy 50th Birthday, John Simon Ritchie. Possibly the most famous "musician" to be almost completely unable to play his own instrument, would be 50 years old today, had he lived. Even had he not overdosed in 1978, it's pretty unlikely he would have lived anyway, given his propensity for mayhem.
posted by psmealey (47 comments total)

 
Whenever I think of Sid these days, I always flash on this comedy sketch I saw once where Sid & Nancy are contestants on The $25,000 Pyramid and Nancy says 'Nazis,' so Sid says 'People who dress cool!'
posted by jonmc at 5:30 AM on May 10, 2007


I wonder why the fuck his mother thought it was a good idea to buy smack for him. He must have been one persuasive motherfucker... no pun intended.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:31 AM on May 10, 2007


Bassmasta link should have gone here.
posted by psmealey at 5:32 AM on May 10, 2007


They're a cute couple. I wish them well.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:42 AM on May 10, 2007


More on Sid's destructive qualities.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:51 AM on May 10, 2007


He was a glasser.
posted by chillmost at 6:07 AM on May 10, 2007


BTW, chuckdarwin... I'm not so sure she bought the smack for him. In that last article it says, "Although he had been clean for nearly two months, Vicious took a shot of heroin that his mother had purchased. " I believe they were living together at the time, & she was doing hard drugs long before him from what I gather. IIRC they started doing them together in 1974. So it seems to me that she may well have bought it for herself but he took it.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:12 AM on May 10, 2007


I got into punkrock DESPITE people like him.
posted by foodeater at 6:17 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh Sid.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:18 AM on May 10, 2007


Any truth to the rumor that Sid's mom spread his ashes on Nancy's grave in Bensalem, PA (my hometown)? I always thought it was an insult for him to have ended up like that.
posted by three blind mice at 6:22 AM on May 10, 2007


I thought he was dead. Huh.
posted by PHINC at 6:24 AM on May 10, 2007


I wonder why the fuck his mother thought it was a good idea to buy smack for him.

Well, she was a hippie.
posted by scratch at 6:25 AM on May 10, 2007


[Sid always bugged me though. All pose. If I need to idolize a junkie, I'll stick with Johnny Thunders.]
posted by vronsky at 6:27 AM on May 10, 2007


I thought he was dead. Huh.

Well, prepare for your second surprise of the day.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:29 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like that Johnny doesn't think that Sid killed Nancy. It's oddly endearing.
posted by oddman at 6:31 AM on May 10, 2007


This just makes me feel old. It's been a long time even since anyone bothered to tag the plaque of famous dead people on the Chelsea Hotel "...and Sid Vicious."
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:32 AM on May 10, 2007


Alos, glancing at the tags and reading the comments, it's perhaps understandable but kinda tragic how many folks' sole conceptions of Sid and the Sex Pistols will be derived from the annoying Alex Cox movie.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:33 AM on May 10, 2007


Yup. That "Sid and Nancy" film didn't really do justice to the subject. Pardon me. What did I just write? Let me re-phrase: it sucked.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:37 AM on May 10, 2007


I just threw that tag in for good measure, adam, only because it was a funny and memorable line. Even upon first viewing, it was pretty clear that S&N was more a vehicle for Chloe Webb's (and Gary Oldman's) scenery chewing than it was an attempt to approach anything resembling historical verisimilitude. Besides, enough books and movies have come out since to completely relegate Sid & Nancy to the cult picks section at your local independent video store, right up there with Ben and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
posted by psmealey at 6:44 AM on May 10, 2007


my little brother reminded me that it would have been his 50th last night (he was old school punk when no one else was...hes a wicked cool guy like that) and I told him, would you have really wanted to see Sid at 50? I mean look at Johnny Rotten John Lydon.
posted by ShawnString at 6:45 AM on May 10, 2007


I am 24 today! *goes back to lurking*
posted by lemonfridge at 6:51 AM on May 10, 2007


This makes me think of that sketch on The State where they have Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen as contestants on the $25,000 Pyramid and when "Nazis," is offered as a clue, Sid answers "People Who Dress Cool!"
posted by item at 6:53 AM on May 10, 2007


Movie-lovers, don't let the haters on this thread dissuade you from seeing Sid and Nancy, one of the great indie weepies of all time. Whether the events in the movie have anything to do with the real story of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen is wholly irrelevant to its many virtues.
posted by escabeche at 6:56 AM on May 10, 2007


I mean, yeah... look at John Lydon... ON JUDGE JUDY!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:56 AM on May 10, 2007


I think it's funny that Mr Lydon is a wealthy landlord in Florida who wants to save doplhins.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:33 AM on May 10, 2007


Whilst I quite like the Pistols I think that Sid spelt the end for a lot of what was great in punk. And in terms of being good at rock n roll-ness he compares unfavorably to this chap (this is really NSFW)
posted by ob at 8:11 AM on May 10, 2007


Sid was the perfect icon for the press to latch onto in that first wave of "check out this crazy punk rock thing" coverage. I aways preferred my punk icons to be more literate and stand for something greater than heroin t-shirts. But then again, he was one hell of a one dimensional cartoon character.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:45 AM on May 10, 2007


One drunken college night I tried like hell to find his mother's phone number. I gave up when I finally realized that "Ritchie" is as common in Englad as "Smith" in America. So I called GG Allin instead and left a message on his answering machine.
posted by tr33hggr at 8:58 AM on May 10, 2007


Alos, glancing at the tags and reading the comments, it's perhaps understandable but kinda tragic how many folks' sole conceptions of Sid and the Sex Pistols will be derived from the annoying Alex Cox movie.

Very true, but then neither the Great Rock'n Roll Swindle or The Filth and the Fury are bastions of objectivity. The Sex Pistols loom large in their own legend.

Cool post, psmealey!
posted by oneirodynia at 9:12 AM on May 10, 2007


Someone who understands GG Allin better than I will have to explain him to me. Every time I see pictures of footage of him, I feel something resembling creeping rage. Not dissimilar from what I feel when I see old footage of George Wallace or David Duke. He's so out there, so over the top and just so obviously and crudely aping what Iggy and Stiv Bators were so good at (and pointlessly taking it to the next level), yet he's so utterly talentless I cannot summon any empathy for him. GG Allin was a gross, disgusting tool (pun intended), who fronted for some pretty goddamn mediocre music.

Not to say that Sid was talented, he wasn't, but when I see footage of him, I mostly feel pity.
posted by psmealey at 9:15 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Any truth to the rumor that Sid's mom spread his ashes on Nancy's grave in Bensalem, PA (my hometown)? I always thought it was an insult for him to have ended up like that.

IIRC, Nancy's mom wrote in her biography of her daughter that Sid's mom had requested that Sid be buried next to Nancy, and her mother said no. So it seems possible.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:16 AM on May 10, 2007


All of "Sid & Nancy" appears to be on youtube. You're welcome, haters!
posted by miss lynnster at 9:17 AM on May 10, 2007


psmealy, it's the freak-show appeal. i always wanted to see him live, and as it happened, i was at his very last show -- two songs, a riot and he od'd that night. makes for a great story, and i'm glad i survived it. not much talent, i'll give you...
posted by AJaffe at 9:58 AM on May 10, 2007


psmealey: I can't say that I feel rage when I see GG Allin I just find his whole schtik incredibly silly. Also I think it's being kind to say that his music was mediocre, it was terrible and I suppose that's the point. I'm with you on Sid though, I feel pity for him in a way that I really don't for GG... Nicepost btw!
posted by ob at 9:58 AM on May 10, 2007


"Sid & Nancy" was a watch-over-n-over family cult movie, between my sister and I. It let us live scandalous, gritty lives, vicariously! Great music, though.
posted by everichon at 10:01 AM on May 10, 2007


it was Eric Reed Boucher that penned the line "a hairstyles not a lifestyle, imagine Sid Vicious at 35". i shuddered hard enough at that thought, considering 50 just seems kinda morbid.
posted by mikoroshi at 10:13 AM on May 10, 2007


considering 50 just seems kinda morbid

Makes the fact that Keith Richards is still alive, by most reports, at 63 years of age even more astonishing.
posted by psmealey at 10:16 AM on May 10, 2007


Well, he's not so much alive as undead.
posted by jonmc at 10:23 AM on May 10, 2007


Well, now I'm feeling my age this morning...
posted by jokeefe at 10:39 AM on May 10, 2007


Undead? Isn't the going theory that he's animatronic?
posted by oddman at 10:45 AM on May 10, 2007


Not just undead, embalmed.
posted by kjs3 at 10:55 AM on May 10, 2007


scratch writes 'I wonder why the fuck his mother thought it was a good idea to buy smack for him.

'Well, she was a hippie.'


Actually, mom was addicted to heroin as well. I assume she was scoring for the two of them.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:24 AM on May 10, 2007


I'm sorry Sid is dead. I am sorry anyone is dead. But I was very pleased that the Sex Pistols only lasted as long as they did. What they did was absurd and contrived, but it was what I needed to hear at that point in my life. But if they had gone on, bleah.
posted by mmahaffie at 11:26 AM on May 10, 2007


Okay, here's a huge unsubstantiated crazy rumor regarding the whole Sid didn't kill nancy thing.

When I was young a new a woman who was friends with someone who lived in the Chelsea at the same time. She told me that Sid's dealer killed Nancy because of something she saw and since Sid was nodded out at the time just left the knife in his hand.

It does lend credence to Sid's claim that he could never hurt Nancy. But this lady killed herself while I was still young, so I could never verify any of this.

Anway, remind me to tell you my humiliating story about GG Allin sometime and great post.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:58 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh also, watch 'The Filth and the Fury.' One of the best rock docs ever, IMHO.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:59 PM on May 10, 2007


Ah, fucking Sid, man. He probably would have had a better solo career than Lydon. Sid could actually almost sing sometimes!
posted by snsranch at 5:41 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jeez, Nancy was just 20 when she died. Hard to imagine. That face was older than time.
posted by Scram at 5:48 AM on May 11, 2007


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