He couldn’t play a note, but he was just as rude and daring as vocalist Johnny Rotten – John Lydon, now of I’m A Celebrity … fame – often stripping down to his underpants to reveal a skinny torso that scarred was by itself. inflicted knife wounds.
As well as his punk rock persona – he will be forever remembered for his turbulent romance with girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
Nancy reportedly bought drugs to meet musicians and became a heroin addict, once financing her habit by working as a prostitute.
She later moved to England “specifically to get a Sex Pistol for a friend,” a friend recalls. Other contemporaries she came to the UK to chase after Heartbreakers Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan, who had left New York.
Born John Ritchie, Sid Vicious was a fixture on the King’s Road punk scene who had been hired earlier that year to replace original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock.
The couple moved in together in London and Nancy would have introduced her boyfriend to heroin. She joined the Sex Pistols on their US tour the following year.
The band collapsed towards the end of the tour and Sid returned to London with Nancy to try out a solo career.
They returned to New York in late August 1978 to start a new life, but overdoses took their toll and were still dependent on drugs.
They moved into the Chelsea Hotel, which had once been a mecca for writers and artists – Dylan Thomas, Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan had all once lived there – but by the late 1970s it was nothing more than a sprawling drug room that users was populated.
On October 12, 1978, Nancy was found dead in the bathroom of Room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel, a trail of blood that led to the bed she shared with Vicious, who had bought a hunting knife a few days earlier.
Witnesses who were in their room at a party the night before say Vicious was on the run from the count thanks to a good dose of barbiturates.
Some theories say she could have been murdered by a visitor in an argument over drugs or money.
It was Vicious himself who called the police to say he had found her body, and an hour later Vicious confessed in a Third Homicide Division cell, “I did it because I’m a dirty dog.”
The police, it seemed, had their husbands. But Vicious would later retract his confession, claiming he couldn’t remember anything about the night Nancy died.
He was nevertheless taken into custody, but his manager, the colorful Malcolm McLaren, hired a top New York attorney named James Merberg to get him bail.
Within days, Vicious was released on a $ 50,000 license prepared by his record label owner, Richard Branson.
Just over a month later, however, Sid found himself again in the maximum security prison on Riker’s Island after glazing a man during a fight at a New York club. He spent nearly two months behind bars in the detox department of the prison before being released on bail again.
By this time, Vicious had a new girlfriend, a future actress named Michelle Robson. On the day of his release – February 1, 1979 – Vicious, his mother Anne Beverley and a few friends returned to Robson’s apartment for a banquet.
After eating spaghetti bolognese, Vicious asked his mother – a hopeless addict herself – to find him some drugs.
Little did Vicious know that this batch of heroin was over 95 percent pure and nearly three times stronger than most of the heroin sold on the streets of New York. After taking it, Sid collapsed.
He was revived by his girlfriend and mother, but they decided not to call an ambulance because they feared he would be thrown back in jail for violating his bail conditions. It was to prove a fatal mistake.
Later that night, alone in the bedroom, he injected more of the powerful heroin. The next morning he was found dead.
It’s unlikely that Vicious killed Nancy or won’t be solved with any certainty, but in her memoirs, Deborah Spungen suggests her daughter’s boyfriend wasn’t to blame.