Melody Maker | Info Freako | 31 October 1992
THE VICIOUS TRUTH
I am an avid fan of the Sex Pistols and especially of the late Sid Vicious. Could you please tell me whether Sid was buried in London or New York and, if possible, the name of the cemetery?
K T Taylor, Sutton Bridge
Sid Vicious (born 1957, real name John Simon Ritchie) wasn't actually buried anywhere. But before you hunt out that old "Sid Lives" T-shirt, let's go back to 12 October 1978 and the grim discovery of the body of Vicious's girlfriend Nancy Spungen
in the bathroom of the couple's apartment at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. It was the start of a series of events that saw the Sex Pistols' bassist regularly making front page news in the British tabloid press for the next few months.
Spungen had bled to death from an inch-deep stab wound to the stomach and Vicious was accused of her murder later the same day. His denial of the charge fuelled a rumour that Spungen had died as part of a joint suicide pact which Vicious had reneged on. With Virgin Records standing $50,000 bail, he was released from jail on 17 October. Five days later, he slashed his right arm with a broken light bulb and a razor blade while repeatedly screaming, "I want to join Nancy, I didn't keep my part of the bargain".
Vicious was admitted to a psychiatric hospital but, within days of being discharged, was once more behind bars after attacking Patti Smith's brother Todd at Hurrah, a New York nightclub. He was placed in the drug detoxification unit at Rikers Island Prison in an attempt to help him beat the heroin habit for which he had long been notorious. On 1 February 1979, he was again released on bail. He was found dead at the Greenwich Village apartment of a friend the next morning. The efforts of the detox unit had been in vain. Vicious had overdosed on heroin.
The Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren made moves to bring his body back to Britain but Sid's mother, Ann Beverley, claimed her son wanted to be buried alongside Nancy Spungen. Spungen's parents were horrified at the thought of this, however, and refused to tell Beverley where she had been laid to rest. As a result, Vicious was cremated in New York.
Several months later, Ann Beverley found out that Spungen lay in the King David Cemetary on the outskirts of her home city of Philadelphia and made a pilgrimage to sprinkle Vicious's ashes over the grave. Touching stuff, eh?