The Death of Sid Vicious in New York.
Above Photo: Sid Vicious during a Sex Pistols gig in 1978.
It doesn’t feel that long ago when I first heard of the death of Sid Vicious in New York at the tender age of 21 (him not me; I was even tenderer, having just turned seventeen).
I recount the circumstances in my Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out!, as it marked the beginning of a dramatic and life-changing month for me.
I was at my then-girlfriend Christine Clarke’s house in Dryden Street, Bootle, Liverpool, skiving school as usual, when we heard he’d died from a heroin overdose in New York the night before.
He was found dead by his mother, Anne Beverley, next to his sleeping girlfriend in an apartment in Bank Street, Greenwich Village, where there’d been a party the previous night, to celebrate Vicious’s release on bail for the alleged murder of his former girlfriend, Nancy Spungen in October 1978.
Vicious was pleading not guilty to her murder and his lawyers were confident they could win the case.
He’d overdosed on heroin during the party that evening and suddenly collapsed. He went into seizure, but revived 40 minutes later and went to bed with his girlfriend, Michelle Robinson, in the early hours of the morning.
The first police officer on the scene later in the morning discovered a syringe a spoon and heroin near his body.
A spokesman for Virgin Records (Vicious’s record label, who stood bail for him) said: “In retrospect he was obviously far safer in jail where the temptations that ultimately killed him were not present.”
The autopsy confirmed Vicious died from an accumulation of fluid on the lungs, characteristic of heroin abuse.
Even in death Vicious caused controversy, with his mother and his manager, Malcom McClaren fighting over where he should be buried.
McClaren wanted him buried in London, but Anne Beverley discovered a note from Vicious in which he expressed his wish to be buried with his former girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
Being Jewish, Spungen had been buried in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, where Vicious could not be interred, so his mother scattered Sid’s ashes over Spungen’s grave without seeking the family’s permission beforehand.