The Sex Pistols changed my life when I discovered them in 1984. Their music alone made my arm hairs stand up, but their image and attitude were just as important and powerful. The member of the Sex Pistols who I was drawn to and most epitomized the punk image for me was Sid Vicious, with his spiked hair, leather jacket, lock necklace, and reckless behavior. At 14 I was mesmerized by Sid and made my first home-made t-shirt of him snarling his lip defiantly. I was rebelling, looking for any way to irritate my parents and, before I knew better, Sid was my Superman. Sid self-destructed young and with punk’s slogans like “No Future” and “Live Fast, Die Young,” Sid was everything the Superman, anti-hero, or cliché, of a nihilistic movement called for. Sid didn’t really do much to shape punk music…he only actually played on two songs on Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols. However, Sid’s surly vocals kick ass on C’mon Everybody, Somethin’ Else, and My Way. Sid remains one of punk’s most enduring icons even if he is a classic example of style over substance. I was a sucker for Sid’s image as a teenager, and I still am, even though I see him as less “cool” and more tragic and cautionary these days. I have made many images of Sid over the years, and I thought I had retired him as a subject until Dennis Morris-the photographer of the most intimate and iconic shots of Sid-approached me about a collaboration. Dennis’s archive provided an amazing treasure trove of Sid images to work from in creating the paintings and prints in the “Superman Is Dead” show. I’m so glad I got to do Dennis’s Sid images “My Way”! I can now retire Sid as a subject. I’ve worked with the best, I can skip the rest.
- Shepard Fairey
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