Never mind the public image: art shows softer side of Sid Vicious

By Liam O'Brien
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:57
Sid Vicious acquired the name after being bitten by Johnny Rotten’s pet hamster Sid
Sid Vicious acquired the name after being bitten by Johnny Rotten’s pet hamster Sid

Before Sid Vicious joined the Sex Pistols, he claimed in an interview that he'd "only been in love with a beer bottle and a mirror".

But newly-discovered artwork created by the heroin-addicted punk star in his teenage years suggests he was also rather fond of the paintbrush. In fact, Mr Vicious reveals a hitherto unheard of thoughtful, soft side in the works, that include a simple still-life painting of a buttercup.

Along with the late rocker's Salvador Dali-esque pieces, most of which he rendered as a student at Hackney College of Further Education, the collection has been made into a special Sid Vicious' Book of Artwork, signed by official biographer Alan Parker, and is expected to fetch £4,000 at auction.

Mr Parker, 45, said the pictures were painted when Mr Vicious was about 15 and were probably part of his coursework. "They are watercolours or sketches and show a completely different side of the Sid Vicious people think of now. He didn't stand out as a troublemaker – the only distinguishing thing was that he was probably considered a talented artist," he said.

Following the suicide of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in October 1978, Mr Vicious unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide. After spells in hospital and prison he died of a heroin overdose on 2 February 1979.

"I think he was a sweeter guy underneath it all, even later in his life, but as with a lot of people you have to scratch away the veneer to find it," Mr Parker said.

Vicious's mother, Ann Beverley, kept the pictures until she died in 1996. One of the paintings shows a mosque against a rich red sunset, while another displays a dismembered head supported by long, thin legs wandering in a desert landscape – reminiscent of Dali's elephant artworks.

On one page sure to interest rock anoraks Mr Vicious scrawled a list of songs in red ink, including "Ride a White Swan" by T-Rex and "It's Wonderful to be Loved by You" by unlikely punk Jimmy Ruffin. The book will be sold in an auction at The Fame Bureau in London on Monday, with the contract signed by Mr Vicious for the band's last concert in 1978. The contract is expected to fetch £3,500.

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