Sid Vicious pic by Nils Stevenson
Sid Vicious pic by Nils Stevenson



NEW YORK POST, Friday, October 13, 1978

Sid Vicious seized at Chelsea Hotel - Punk rock star accused of slaying girl friend

by Deborah Orin

Sid Vicious, bass guitarist of Britain's spitting and stomping Sex Pistols punk rock band, yesterday was arrested and charged with stabbing his sultry blond girl friend to death in their room at Manhattan's famed Chelsea Hotel.

His face pale and scratched, the dazed-looking Vicious muttered curses and "I'll smash your cameras" as he was led from the hotel, where the body of Nancy Laura Spungen, 20, clad in blood-soaked black lace bra and panties, was found crumbled under the bathroom sink.

Miss Spungen, a former go-go dancer whose family lives in the affluent Philadelphia suburb of Huntington Valley, had been stabbed deep in the abdomen, police said.
There were signs of a struggle, according to police, and a trail of blood leading from the disorderly bedroom to the bath of Room 100, where Miss Spungen and Vicious registered in August as Mr. and Mrs. John Simon Ritchie - his real name.


The couple, who lived with a small black und white kitten in the $30-a-night room, frequently appeared "spaced-out' and the woman often had bruises or a black eye, said hotel employees and residents.

"He beat her with a guitar every so often but I didn't think he was going to kill her," said a distraught young man in a brown checkered shirt and cowboy boots who refused to give his name but was identified by hotel employees as a friend of the couple.

The youth said he had been with the pair until 4 a.m. yesterday and Miss Spungen begged him to go home with them because Vicious was acting strange and had pressed his hunting knife against her throat a few days earlier.

Vicious seemed fond of Miss Spungen, said the unidentified friend, "but if you're sick upstairs it doesn't matter."

The now defunct Sex Pistols - who rose to the top of the London charts while jabbing their cheeks with safety pins, spitting on their fans and calling the Queen of England a "moron" - were described by fans as a symbol of the smouldering rage of working class Britons, bored and trapped.


The Sex Pistols' lead singer, who calls himself Johnny Rotten, announced the groups demise after an abortive U.S. tour last January. A few hours later, Vicious was taken unconscious from a Los Angeles-New York flight at Kennedy Airport, suffering what was described as an overdose of pills and alcohol.

With Miss Spungen by his side, he was taken to Jamaica Hospital in Queens for treatment.

Both Vicious and Miss Spungen had said they expected to die young - "I'll kill myself as soon as the first wrinkle appears," she once said.

Their neighbors in the opulent Maida Vale section of West London, where the couple lived before coming to New York this summer, recalled that he once locked her out and she ran up and down the street in a G-string, shouting "I love you."

Vicious, who had boasted that his body was covered with self-inflicted cuts, followed the Sex Pistol style of spitting and cursing his fans: Sometimes he sported handcuffs as a lark

But yesterday the handcuffs were real as Vicious was taken to he booked at Manhattan's Third Homicide Zone. The bone-thin guitarist's spikey hair was black against a pasty white face and he wore a fluffy red, blue and yellow sweater, a pointy metal ring, skin tight black jeans and heavy black shoes. He was to be arraigned today in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Sid and Nancy


Manhattan Chief of Detectives Martin Duffy said Vicious claimed he was under the influence of the depressant Tuinal when he awoke at 10:50 a.m., realized Miss Spungen wasn't in bed next to him and found her body in the bathroom.

But hotel employees said the switchboard earlier got an outside call asking that someone check Room 100 because "someone is seriously injured and I'm not kidding, man.'' The hotel workers said Vicious was out of the room when a bellman found the body but returned before police arrived.

Police declined to comment that they had found a blood-covered hunting knife in the room.

Miss Spungen, who dressed in black leather and jeans, handled the couple's funds and carried bags full of money that she sometimes spilled across the floor, according to hotel employees and residents.

Miss Spungen's parents and younger sister and brother were in seclusion in Huntington Valley, where they live in a two-story brown and white home with a large landscaped lawn, backyard pool and double garage.

Neighbors said her father, Franklin Spungen, is a salesman.

Hometown friends described the platinum-haired Miss Spungen as a very bright but rebellious girl from an achievement-oriented family who was caught up in acid rock music at the age of 10.

A Haven For Artists
By Deborah Orin

Mark Twain stayed there. So did Thomas Wolfe and Brendan Behan, Eugene O'Neill and Jane Fonda, Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan.

Not to mention rock bands Jefferson Starship and the Grateful Dead.

And the fat lady from the Barnum and Bailey circus, who filled the whole elevator all by herself.

The landmark Chelsea Hotel, 222 W, 23d St., may be a bit rundown these days, but it clings to a kind of weird respectability as a haven for avant-garde creative types, the kind of folks who write or paint or compose - or wish they did.

"We get a very creative mix," hotel manager Stanley Bard said as police prepared to lead off British punk rocker Sid Vicious, charged with fatally stabbing his girlfriend in their Chelsea Hotel room.

"Every once in a while," added an anxious Bard, "you get a music group that is crazy."

When it opened in 1884, the Chelsea was Manhattan's first artist's cooperative and tallest building - 11 stories of red brick with cast iron grillwork, luxurious rosewood trim and working fireplaces.

It went broke and reopened in 1905 as a hotel, catering to what over the years was called the literati, then the Bohemians, then the new wave.

After Bob Dylan gave the place his seal of approval - his first child was born at the Chelsea - more and more rock stars made it a de rigueur stop on their international circuit.

The Chelsea, after all, had a reputation for looking after its friends and tolerating personal quirks without blinking.

So where but the Chelsea would Clifford Irving go to lick his wounds after the Howard Hughes caper? Where but the Chelsea would his wife, Edith auction off her paintings to raise some cash?

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The Full Story

12th October 1978

Sid Vicious is arrested at his Chelsea Hotel apartment in New York and charged with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. It is believed that the actual stabbing took place in the early morning hours. The story that Sid relates is basically this: he remembers being awakened late in the night and seeing Nancy with the knife they had bought earlier that day in Times Square when they were out shopping with another hotel resident, Neon Leon. Then, he woke again later (around 11:15am) and found the bed covered in blood and Nancy under the sink in the bathroom, also covered in blood, with the knife sticking out of her side. He then called the front desk and asked for an ambulance to be sent. When the ambulance arrived it was accompanied by a police squad, who arrested Sid, detained and questioned him and charged him with the murder at the East 51st Street Station at approximately 5:30pm. Back at the Chelsea, Nancy’s body was removed from their first floor apartment, #100.

There are some conflicting stories about the events of last night and this morning. Here’s the one uncovered by Rolling Stone’s Michael Segell. Apparently Nancy (who handled the couple’s finances) had just received a personnel check from Malcolm on Wednesday, as well as $3,000 from Sid’s Max’s appearances. Nancy then called a friend of the pair named Rockets Redglare for some Dilaudid (synthetic morphine). He visited the couple this morning around 1:30am, staying with them until about 5am. When he left, he saw another drug supplier in the lobby heading for the elevator. More Rolling Stone investigation turned up Neon Leon, a punk musician who lived just down the hall from Sid and Nancy. Some of Sid’s prize possessions were in his room. Items like a handful of Sex Pistols clippings, Sid’s leather jacket and gold records. Unlikely things to be given away. Leon claims that the couple knocked on his door around 3am and left the stuff. He continues with saying that Sid and Nancy called him around 4:30 that morning looking for a joint. Rockets, who claims to have been with Sid and Nancy between 1:30 and 5:00am, recalls no phone calls or other visitors.

A third story making the rounds involves Sid and Nancy buying the entire drug stash from a dealer who was hanging around the Chelsea. The two went back to their room and hit. Sid was out cold when there’s a knock on the door at about 3am. It’s the dealer, back to get a little bit of his stash back so he can hit in the morning. Nancy answers the door, refuses him the drugs and the dealer grabs the knife from a nearby table, stabs her and leaves with the drugs. There would be no prints if he’s wearing gloves and Sid’s fingerprints would be all over the knife since he’s been playing with it all day since he bought it.

Most of the stories sound more credible than the one the press is printing that Sid killed Nancy. All of his friends are coming forward saying that Sid was so terribly devoted to Nancy that he would never do anything to hurt her. Detectives found no money in the apartment, but have not linked the murder with a robbery. They think the money could have been taken by some of the scavenging junkies before the police arrived.

13th October

Sid Vicious was brought before a judge and charged with second degree murder. Bail has been set at $50,000. The New York press has covered its pages with headlines that pronounce Sid guilty before he even gets a trial. Malcolm McLaren arrives in New York just in time for the hearing.

Sid in barThe Sun 14th October, 1978 (Front page)



From Leslie Hinton In New York

Sex pistol Sid vicious almost collapsed in court yesterday when he was accused of murdering his blonde girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

The 21-year-old spiky-haired punk star seemed to be in a trance as he was led into the New York court by a detective.

Before his appearance, Vicious denied killing Nancy, a 20 year-old American go-go dancer.

His lawyer, Joseph Epstein, contradicted a police claim that the punk rocker had confessed, saying ‘There is no basis for that report’.


In court, Vicious was helped to a chair as he staggered and buckled at the knees.

His body shuddered periodically as he spent the rest of the 10-minute hearing with his head resting on a table.

Throughout, he seemed oblivious to the proceedings as he was formally charged with murder under his real name, John Simon Ritchie.

If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

Punk rock friends of Vicious sat in court during the hearing.

Singer Jerry Nolan wore earrings made of animal’s teeth, a silver skull ring, and brass-studded bracelets.

A toy silver six shooter hung from his studded belt.

Half a dozen other friends with him were dressed similarly.

14th October

Malcolm McLaren has hired the firm of Prior, Cashman, Sherman and Flynn to defend Sid. He’s also trying to arrange bail through Virgin or Warner Brothers Records. He’s been saying that he’s got plans for an album from Sid, one that could pay for the estimated $100,000 in legal costs. In the meantime, Sid has been moved to the hospital wing of Riker’s Prison to undergo heroin detoxification.

15th October

Sid’s mother, Ann Beverly, has flown in to New York to see her son, but only after raising $10,000 from the sale of the rights to her inside story to the New York Post. Back in England, Malcolm McLaren’s Kings Road clothing shop is already selling T-shirts with Sid surrounded by a bunch of dead roses and the slogan “She’s Dead, I’m Alive, I’m Yours.” Meanwhile, Nancy is buried in her parent’s hometown of Philadelphia.

16th October

Virgin Records has telegraphed Malcolm McLaren the $50,000 bail for Sid Vicious’ release.

Malcolm goes to Riker’s Prison and gets Sid out on bail.

22nd October

Sid is despondent over Nancy’s death and perhaps confused about whether he had any part in it or not. He tries to commit suicide by taking all of his supply of methadone and slashing one of his arms. Sid’s mother discovers him and quickly calls McLaren who races uptown to Sid, who weakly begs for someone to finish him off. This attempt further drives home the theory that it was a failed suicide pact between Nancy and Sid.

Melody Maker 28th October, 1978

(Front page)

The sound of breaking glass…

SID VICIOUS attacked himself with a razor blade and a broken light bulb late on Monday night, slashing his wrists as he tried to break out of the agony of drug withdrawal.

Vicious, who attends court on Monday next week to face a charge of murdering his girl­friend Nancy Spungen, has been on a metha­done treatment to clear a heroin habit. He took most of his weekend’s supply of the heroin substitute on Friday night, and the rest early on Sunday, leaving him in severe withdrawal pain by Sunday night.

Manager Malcolm McLaren spent most of the evening trying to find fresh supplies of methadone, but as it is, in his words, "a bureaucratic drug” sup­plied by Government clinics, it was impos­sible to find any. Mc­Laren left Vicious with his mother in the Hotel Seville on Madison Avenue late on Sunday night, and at about 3am Vicious went Into the bathroom, where his mother found him a couple of minutes later with slashed wrists.

McLaren told the MM: “He had been suf­fering rapid methadone withdrawal over the weekend, and by that evening he panicked.

“Sid is all right now they patched up his arms and gave him 50 milligrammes of metha­done, which has stabilised him. He was an­xious to get himself clear of drugs, and was trying to come off it too quickly. It’s impossible for anyone, who hasn’t been through that to know what it means."

With the eventual trial up to six months away, McLaren said he will try and get Vicious involved in some recording or filming to keep his mind off the last few weeks.

“I want him fit mentally and physically for the ordeal of the trial, and I felt he would need an objective to steer himself away from all the problems that will constantly nag at him until the trial is over. That’s why I suggested some re­cording to him. Also the enormous costs of getting the strongest defence lawyer I can find will provide us with considerable finan­cial problems, which a record will help solve.”

McLaren denied he had been filming events in New York to add to the Pistols’ The Great Rock and Roll Swindle movie, but said that if Vicious was interested, filming might take place later.

9th December

Sid is in trouble again. It’s the early morning hours and Sid is out on the town with his new girlfriend Michelle Robinson. About 2:30 in the morning, Sid gets into a fight with Patti Smith’s brother Todd at Hurrah’s disco in New York. Todd throws a punch and Sid retaliates with a broken bottle, cutting Todd’s face. Police are called and Sid, in clear violation of his parole, is hauled off to Riker’s again.

Sid in Court12th December

Further court hearing. Sid is kept in custody while reports prepared prior to next hearing.

1st February

The fight that Sid got himself into on December 9th has kept Sid in Riker’s detox for almost seven weeks. Sid was clean, free from heroin and got to have his hearing. James Merberg is a persuasive enough attorney to get Sid released immediately. Leaving Rikers by lunchtime, he’s greeted by some of his junkie friends from the Chelsea and his mother, who had already purchased more heroin for her detoxed son. The group went back to a friend’s apartment in Greenwich Village to celebrate his release. Backsliding from the seven weeks of detox he painfully endured, Sid immediately jumped back into heroin. The dose wasn’t very potent, and he argued that he needed more. His mother obliges him. Twenty minutes later Sid’s collapsed on a bed and the friends talk about whether to take him to the hospital, but Sid says he’s all right. Sometime past midnight, Sid awakes and finds the rest of the heroin in his mother’s purse, he uses it and drifts off, permanently.

Daily Mail, 3rd February 1979 (Front page)


From NIGEL NELSON in New York

Punk rock star Sid Vicious, the inadequate youth who turned a tasteless pop gimmick into pathetic real life, died of a heroin overdose yesterday.

His body was found after a party in his new girlfriend’s apartment in Greenwich Village, New York, held to celebrate his release from jail on bail – he had been accused of murdering his previous girlfriend ‘Nauseous Nancy’ Spungen, with a knife.


Sid's Death Certificate

10th May 1957 – 2nd February 1979

(Thanks to “Punk Diary” by George Gimarc – St. Martin’s Press)


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Written and researched by Phil Singleton.
This feature is copyright to and Phil Singleton and may not be reproduced without written permission.
All rights reserved.
All material ©Phil Singleton


Sid Vicious pic by Nils Stevenson













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