16. Vicious Took His Name From a Hamster
Ironically for a punk rocker who became notorious for his violent drug-fueled antics, his namesake is a docile and timid animal. Sid Vicious, whose birth name was Simon John Ritchie, found his stage name in a rather unusual way. He was visiting his friend John Lydon, who later was famed as Johnny Rotten, the lead singer of the Sex Pistols when Lydon’s hamster bit him on the finger.
Lydon’s hamster, Sid (named after Pink Floyd’s Syd Barret), bit Vicious rather nastily leading Lydon to exclaim “Sid is really vicious!” Lydon began using the moniker Sid Vicious as a nickname for Ritchie, and it stuck. At the time, Lydon and Ritchie were living with two other men also named John, which led to them being called the “Four Johns.” In that environment, any nickname, even one from a hamster, must have been better than being one of four Johns!”
Lydon later described the hamster Sid as the “softest, furriest, weediest thing on earth” which makes it a sad and ironic namesake for a punk rocker who is most famous for his violence, drug abuse and tragically young death from a heroin overdose. The animal namesake is especially dark given Vicious’ history of strangling animals in his youth.
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