October 1978: Sid Vicious Arrested for the Murder of Nancy Spungen in New York.
Sid Vicious, the Sex Pistols’ Bass Player.
As mentioned in my Punk and New Wave Memoir, Bombed Out!, when I first got into Punk and was learning to play the bass, Sid Vicious was an unlikely hero of mine. Yeah, he was all Punk and all Attitude, but that wasn’t why I admired him. I admired him because he could hardly play the bass and yet there he was in the fucking Sex Pistols!
That gave me massive encouragement as I too set about learning to play. In later life I discovered he too had learnt to play bass by jamming along to Punk records (in his case the Ramones).
The Sex Pistols split early in 1978, and later that year I was shocked when he was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, in a room in the Hotel Chelsea, New York.
What I didn’t know at the time was that he and Spungen had a passionate, intense and destructive relationship based around heroin, and the night she died, they had been using.
Spungen was found by Vicious on the floor of their bathroom on 12 October 1978, with a single stab wound to her stomach.
The knife used had been bought by Vicious on 42nd Street and was apparently identical to a knife given to Stiv Bators, lead singer of the Dead Boys by Dee Dee Ramone. According to Dee Dee’s wife at the time, Vicious had bought the knife after seeing Stiv’s shiv.
Vicious was subsequently arrested and charged with Spungen’s murder.
He told police they had fought that night but gave conflicting versions of what happened, saying, “I stabbed her, but I never meant to kill her”, then saying that he did not remember and that at one point during the argument Spungen had fallen onto the knife.
On 22 October, ten days after Spungen’s death, Vicious attempted suicide by slitting his wrist with a smashed light bulb and was subsequently hospitalized, where he also tried killing himself by jumping from a window.
Vicious’s mother, Anne Beverley, was critical of her son’s relationship with Spungen. She said:
“I didn’t like his girl. I called her Nauseating Nancy. She was a bad influence on my Sid.”
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