Sid Vicious was a member of the legendary band The Sex Pistols however he is best known for being arrested and accused of the murder of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Sid Vicious would never go to trial for the murder as he would die from a drug overdose weeks later. Lets take a closer look at Sid Vicious and the murder of Nancy Spungen
Sid Vicious And The Sex Pistols
Sid Vicious would be a number of bands before he was asked to be in The Sex Pistols in 1977 to be the bass player, funny enough Sid Vicious was not a very good guitar player and would only perform on one song during the band’s biggest album Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols. The other members of the band recorded the majority of the album while Sid Vicious was in the hospital for hepatitis.
In 1978 The Sex Pistols would break up due to inner fighting and drug use.
Sid Vicious And Nancy Spungen
Sid Vicious would meet Nancy Spungen and she would soon be touring with the band. Nancy was a diagnosed schizophrenic and would be labled by the media as “Nauseating Nancy” due to her behavior.
After The Sex Pistols broke up Nancy took over as a manager while Sid Vicious began to tour on his own. However the two spent the majority of their time doing heroin after moving to New York City
Sid Vicious And Nancy’s Murder
On October 12, 1978 Sid Vicious would wake up from a drug stupor at the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, New York to find Nancy Spungen dead on the floor.
The body of Nancy Spungen had a single stab wound to the stomach and is believed to have bled to death. Sid Vicious would give two accounts to police the first stating that he accidentally stabbed Nancy during a fight and in the second account that Nancy had fallen onto the knife.
Sid Vicious would be arrested and charged with the murder of Nancy Spungen however he was soon released on bail
Sid Vicious Arrest For Assault
On December 9, 1978 Sid Vicious was arrested for the assault of Todd Smith, the brother of musician Patti Smith. This time Sid Vicious would be sent to the notorious Rikers Island where he was forced to go through detox from heroin. Sid Vicious was back out on bail in February 1 1979
Sid Vicious Death
On the day he was released from Riker’s Island Sid Vicious attended a party that included his new girlfriend at her apartment, 63 Bank St. in New York City. Sometime during the night Sid Vicious would overdose from heroin and his mother would find his body the next day.
There has been some questions over the years whether or not Sid Vicious purposely overdose which is what his mother believed and was substantiated by a note he allegedly had on him
We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye
Who Really Killed Nancy Spungen
Over the years there has been a number of theories in who actually killed Nancy Spungen even though the majority believe Sid Vicious was responsible.
One of the theories is that Sid Vicious owed a lot of money to drug dealers in order to keep him and Nancy in heroin and they were responsible for her murder. A number of objects of worth were missing from the apartment
Rockets Redglare, an actor and stand up comedian apparently confessed to friends that he was responsible for the death of Nancy Spungen, Redglare apparently delivered drugs to Sid and Nancy’s hotel room the night of her death. Redglare would deny this to the press however and was known for exaggerating stories. Rockets believed a drug dealer he saw in the Chelsea hotel was responsible for the murder
Sid Vicious More News
In 1975, a 17-year-old Philly girl named Nancy Spungen dropped out of the University of Colorado and moved to New York City. She pushed her way in with the emerging punk crowd – meeting seminal rockers like Johnny Thunders and Cheetah Chrome. Spungen quickly established herself in the punk scene as a new kind of groupie, as punk journalist Legs McNeil told New YorkMagazine in 2008 – and she embodied the nastiest parts of the scene. “We were tired of being nice. It was like, fuck you,” McNeil said. “The left… invented that political-correctness stuff. Punk was supposed to piss off everybody and make people think.”
Though most found Spungen abrasive, one person didn’t seem to mind her crass exterior: Sid Vicious, the bassist for the Sex Pistols. The two met in London in 1977 and quickly became an item. The couple rattled around the U.K. and the United States – first with the Pistols and then, when the band broke up, just the two of them on their own
And then, on October 12th, 1978, 20-year-old Spungen bled to death on the bathroom floor of a room in the Chelsea Hotel in New York. Months later, while awaiting trial for her murder, Vicious died from an overdose. For many, it was the end of an era.
Born in the Philadelphia suburbs in 1958 to a middle-class family, her mother Deborah Spungen described Nancy as a difficult child. In a memoir written after her daughter’s death, And I Don’t Want To Live This Life: A Mother’s Story Of Her Daughter’s Murder, Deborah describes Nancy’s physical assaults, screaming tantrums and bullying her siblings.
At 11, Spungen was expelled from school and sent to a boarding school in Connecticut for children with special needs, from where she graduated at age 16, according to Philly.com. She also spent time in a mental institution and was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teen, according toNew York.Spungen attended the University of Colorado briefly before dropping out to go to New York City.
She arrived right as the punk movement was blowing up – and the heroin epidemic in New York City was white-hot.“She was blatantly honest about it: She brought drugs for the bands,” photographer Eileen Polk, who knew Spungen, told New York magazine. “In order to be a groupie you had to be tall and skinny and have fashionable clothes…. And then here comes Nancy. She’s not trying to be cute or charming. She wasn’t telling people she was a model or a dancer. She had mousy brown hair and she was a bit overweight. She basically said ‘Yeah, I’m a prostitute and I don’t care.’”
In 1977, Spungen followed Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan of the Heartbreakers to London. It was there that she met John Simon Ritchie, better known as Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious.
The Sex Pistols initially formed in 1972, but it wasn’t until 1975 – when their manager, Malcolm McLaren, found John Lydon, changed his name to Johnny Rotten and stuck him in the band – that the Pistols really took off. The following year they were signed to EMI.
In late 1976, they broke into the mainstream with their caustic hit, “Anarchy in the U.K.” A few months later, bassist Glen Matlock left the band after “clashing” with Johnny Rotten. So in February of 1977, John Ritchie, one of the group’s earlier fans, took the stage name Sid Vicious and joined the band – despite not knowing how to play the bass.
Vicious’ mother was a heroin addict, according to Rotten, and Sid seemed drawn to stronger personalities. “Deep down he was a shy person,” wrote Dennis Morris in Never Mind The Bollocks: A Photographic History of the Sex Pistols, as reported by People. “I think he was frightened of the audiences.”
Once Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious met, they were inseparable. “Nancy…taught Sid all about sex and drugs and the lifestyle of a New York rocker,” wrote Malcolm McLaren on The Daily Beast in 2009. But the other members of the Sex Pistols hated Spungen – a woman viewed by even people who liked her as domineering and combative. Their contempt ran so so deep that they banned her from their 1978 tour, according to New York.
As the Heartbreakers tour manager Leee Childers said of Nancy in Legs McNeil’s seminal Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, “[S]he was a junkie, a drug supplier and an all-around lowlife. … She was a very, very, very, very, very, very bad influence on people who were already a mess. She was a troublemaker and a stirrer-upper.”
Sid Vicious was one of those people who was already a mess. Even the Sex Pistols’ official website acknowledges Vicious’ drug addiction hindered band, interrupting their 1978 tour that was already riddled with “in-fighting.” Spungen had fueled their mutual addictions – including, it would seem, to each other. As the Sex Pistols’ tour manager Nils Stevenson told People, Sid began to “dislike everything – except heroin and Nancy.” After a last performance in January 1978 in San Francisco, the Sex Pistols broke up.
On August 24th, 1978, Sid Vicious and Spungen moved into the Chelsea Hotel in New York City, a place that had housed the likes of Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Jackson Pollack, according to Sherill Tippins’Inside The Dream Palace: The Life And Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel.
On the night of October 11th, “several visitors to the room saw Sid Vicious take as many as many as 30 tablets of Tuinal – a far larger dose of the barbiturate than most of us could survive, and one certain to put nearly anyone into a deep state of unconsciousness for hours, and he remained comatose for through the morning’s early hours” wrote Tippins.
According to New York magazine, the night of the murder went like this: At 2:30a.m, Spungen asked Rockets Redglare – a sometimes bodyguard for Vicious who also sold drugs, according to The New York Times – to get some Dilaudids, an opioid painkiller. Around 7:30a.m., “female moans” were heard from the room from other guest in the hotel. At 10a.m., Vicious called down to the front desk, asking for help. Nancy Spungen, who had been stabbed in the stomach with a knife, bled to death on the bathroom floor. She was 20 years old.
“Sid Vicious, who was found wandering the hallways in an agitated state, was arrested and charged with her murder,” according to the UK’s Independent. “Though he initially confessed to the crime, he later denied it, claiming he had been asleep when she died.”
Theories of who killed Spungen are still swirling to this day, and many suggest Sid Vicious was not responsible.
Some wonder her stabbing was a robbery or drug deal gone bad, according to New York, or perhaps that Spungen, with her flair for the dramatic, stabbed herself and Vicious wasn’t able to help her because he’d taken too many drugs. The 2009 documentary Who Killed Nancy? suggests that Vicious couldn’t have murdered her because he was “out cold” from his barbiturates.
That’s the view of the Sex Pistols former manager Malcolm McLaren, who was adamant in a piece in The Daily Beast that Sid Vicious would not have killed his girlfriend, unless her death was actually a “botched double suicide.” McLaren writes: “She was his first and only love of his life. … I am positive about Sid’s innocence.” McLaren notes how money was stolen from the room while “stupid, clumsy fool” Vicious was “passed out on the bed.”
One theory is that Rockets Redglare, the drug dealer who supplied the opiates that night, killed Spungen. According to author Phil Strongman in his book Pretty Vacant: A History of Punk, Spungen confronted Redglare when he tried to steal cash from their hotel room so he stabbed her in the stomach and split. “Noticing Sid flat out and grey on the bed, Redglare decided to help himself to a bit more of the couple’s cash,” Strongman writes. “Nancy saw the attempted theft and flew at him, nails flying – and copped a Bowie knife in her lower abdomen. Nancy slumped to the floor immediately. With no one standing in his way, Redglare took everything but pocket change and left behind what he believed to be two corpses.”
Strongman continues that in January of 1978, Redglare was heard confessing about the theft and murder at the punk rock club CBGBs. “Rockets Redglare casually admitted to several fellow drinkers that it was actually he who’d robbed and stabbed Nancy Spungen – and produced a handful of her blood-stained dollars to prove it,” Strongman wrote. (Redglare died in 2007.)
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Frequently Asked Questions
- When Did Sid Vicious Die
Sid Vicious died on February 1, 1979
- When Did Nancy Spungen Die
Nancy Spungen was found dead on October 12, 1978