Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious

Bassist Sid Vicious was not an original member of the Sex Pistols, but his snarling appearance and the circumstances surrounding his death made him one of the most memorable individuals in the notorious punk band.

He was born John Simon Ritchie on May 10, 1957, in London. In 1975, former New York Dolls manager Malcolm McLaren picked four lower-income kids who seemed to have the nihilistic qualities he wanted to emphasize and formed the Sex Pistols — and in the process kicked off the British punk-rock revolution.

With McLaren skillfully promoting their shows, the Sex Pistols became the leaders of the UK punk scene that begat the Clash, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees and many other acts. As the obnoxious band's buzz became too loud for record labels to ignore, McLaren got the Pistols, led by lead singer Johnny Rotten, signed by EMI and A&M — who both soon axed the profane band.

EMI issued the Pistols' first single, "Anarchy in the U.K." (RealAudio excerpt), at the end of 1976 but quickly withdrew the single and ended the contract after they used the word "f---er" on British television. Original bassist Glen Mattock then left the band to form the Rich Kids. Vicious, a friend of Rotten's who had no musical background, was chosen as the Pistols' new bassist.

Warner Bros. Records then released the band's debut LP, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (1977), featuring "God Save the Queen," which preceded the group's tour of the States. Despite critical acclaim, U.S. record buyers seemed more curious about, than enamored of, the Sex Pistols. Rotten blamed McLaren for the sensationalism surrounding them and disbanded the group in early 1978.

Vicious went on to live in infamy when he was jailed in New York on charges of stabbing his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death in a room of the Chelsea Hotel. While on bail, on February 2, 1979, Vicious overdosed on heroin and was never tried for the crime.

The ill-fated couple became the subject of "Sid and Nancy," the critically acclaimed 1986 film.

Other birthdays Wednesday: Donovan, 54; Graham Gouldman (10cc), 54; Dave Mason, 54; Jay Ferguson (Spirit), 53; Bono (U2), 40; Krist Novoselic (Nirvana, Sweet 75), 35; and Danny Rapp (Danny & The Juniors), 1941–1983.