This week in 1979 Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious went on trial in New York City for second degree murder of his 20-year-old girlfriend Nancy Spungen three months earlier.
On the morning of 12 Oct 1978, John Simon Ritchie (his real name) claimed to have awoken from a drugged stupor to find Nancy Spungen dead on the bathroom floor of their room in the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, New York. She had suffered a stab wound to her abdomen and appeared to have bled to death. The knife used had been bought by Vicious on 42nd Street and was identical to a “007” flip-knife given to punk rock vocalist Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys by Dee Dee Ramone.
Vicious was arrested and charged with her murder. He said they had fought that night but gave conflicting versions of what happened next, saying, “I stabbed her, but I never meant to kill her,” then saying that he did not remember, and 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. He was hospitalised at Bellevue Hospital, where he also tried to kill himself by jumping from a window shouting, “I want to be with my Nancy” or similar words, but was pulled back by hospital staff.
Vicious was eventually released on 1 Feb 1979 on $50,000 bail but had subsequently been rearrested for assaulting Todd Smith, singer Patti Smithâs brother, in a nightclub. Vicious was later re-released on bail on February 2, and died that night from a heroin overdose, bringing the trial to an untimely and inconclusive end. He was just 21 years old.
Video above, Sid Vicious covers “C’mon Everybody”, a popular rockabilly tune by Eddie Cochran, released in 1958. The song is included in The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, the soundtrack album of the film of the same name by the Sex Pistols.
Featured image via MusicRealms.
Images of Sid Vicious appears in court sketched by Ida Libby Dengrove.