Sid & Nancy: Fatal Love: It Was Never Going To End Well

                                                     (Sid & Nancy. Picture credit: schonmagazine)

*Please be aware that I will be sharing some details in this post that may not be suitable for anyone under the age of 18 or who are sensitive to certain themes involving suicide, self harm, substance misuse. As always, I have tried to be as sensitive with the details whilst stating the facts* 

When it comes to the discussion of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, you'll often hear a mixture of opinions. different opinions about them and their lifestyle and different opinions on how each of them had met their end. Sometimes it's hard to believe that the two people in the picture above were barely 21 years old, they were just kids basically who let the fame, the money and the drugs, go to their head. 

My best friend is a huge Sex Pistols fan and has always adored John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) and it is through her that I discovered their music years ago. She knows all about the tragic story of Sid Vicious (Simon John Ritchie) and how he was just a confused kid who grew up around drugs due to witnessing his mother's own habit and then being encouraged by her to take them. 

I went to a show of John Lydon's a few years ago and he spoke quite fondly of Sid and how much he missed him. He even encouraged the audience to sing (to the theme of ABBA's 'Fernando') ''There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright FOR SIDNEY. They were shining there for you and me, for liberty, FOR SIDNEY...'' It was a brilliant show and very funny. John spoke of how Nancy Spungen had been trying to make her way around the band members of the Sex Pistols and she started with him, he wasn't interested so she turned her attention to Sid after the other band members kept away from her also. 

Nancy's was from the USA but she went to England because it was her goal to have a member of the Sex Pistols as her boyfriend. Well, she got what she wanted but at what cost? Both Sid and Nancy were from difficult backgrounds and had all sorts of emotional problems themselves, mix that with drugs and you have a disaster on your hands. The real Simon John Ritchie was an insecure, shy boy who became Sid Vicious and it gave him confidence and fame but it all went to his head. I think, to be honest, you could say that about each of the members of the Sex Pistols, they all became a bit big for their boots at that time. People were scared to interview them because nobody knew what they were going to say or do next. They thought they were invincible and they did get away with quite a lot because people at the top were intimidated by them but the public loved them. 

(Sex Pistols. Picture credit: theguardian)

The Sex Pistols were just a flash in the pan but it's incredible what they were able to achieve in such a short space of time. Their songs are classics and still sound great to this day. They are seen as punk royalty and as for John? behind the 'John Lydon' persona, he's a big teddy bear and a really intelligent and caring person. Like Sid, John has always felt the need to put on 'the act' so not a lot of people get to see the real him but I highly recommend that you visit one of his shows, preferably when he is doing a talk. I have a lot of respect for John and how he took care of his wife who sadly passed away earlier this year. He was devoted to his wife and worshiped the ground she walked on. At his show, he shed tears talking about her. He really does wear his heart on his sleeve. 

Anyway, back to what this post is all about, I am focusing on Sid and Nancy and their tragic short time together and what really happened? Well, as I mentioned before, Sid (Simon John Ritchie - born on the 10th of May 1957 in Lewisham, London) and Nancy (Nancy Laura Spungen - born on the 27th of February 1958) were both from difficult backgrounds and were not quite sure where they fit in. Nancy had been through a lot of depression as a child and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. There had also been previous suicide attempts and various emotional outbursts. Nancy struggled with life and every day was a challenge but in music she found some sort of saviour, especially punk music that was all the rage in London in the mid 70s. 

London was the place to be in the 70s and early 80s with the punk movement and then the New Romantics. It was all about the music, unique fashion and being yourself. Everyone was encouraged to look as different as possible and it was like the ultimate rebellion against the establishment. Everybody wanted to be in London because that seemed to be where everything was happening. Nancy was obsessed and wanted to run away to London, she dyed her dark hair blonde, wore heavy eyeliner, red lipstick and created her own style. She took off for London in 1976 in search for her dream to come true, to find a sex pistol and somehow that was the answer to everything. When she got there she felt like she'd finally found the place and people where she finally belonged. 

It was the same for Sid Vicious, he'd been a huge David Bowie fan and was quite shy. His mother had bought him some drugs in his early teens (as a birthday present) and he was hooked but at that time the drug use wasn't as heavy as it became. He felt different to everyone else and struggled to fit in but when he started hanging around various clubs, hearing the punk music and being surrounded by struggling teenagers just like him, he felt he finally belonged. 

Sid (Simon) had changed his style and had a more edgier look, he had plans for his own music career and there was some interest from other bands for him to join them. He also became known for his crazy behaviour at various punk shows, always making some sort of scene. He had been noticed at a Sex Pistols show and as he had 'the right look', he was brought into the band in 1977 after Malcolm McLaren, their manager decided to fire Glen Matlock. 

Whilst in the Sex Pistols, Sid was pretty useless as a band member in all honesty. He couldn't play bass and failed to show up for rehearsal on more than one occasion as his drug and alcohol dependency continued to get worse. Malcolm McLaren insisted that he remain in the band because he loved the drama and chaos that he brought to the band. Malcolm's motto was 'Cash For Chaos' (it's even written on his gravestone at Highgate Cemetery in London). Sid would binge on alcohol and drugs and start fighting, spitting, throwing things and Malcolm loved that for the band's image. 

(Malcolm McLaren. Picture credit: britannica)

It wasn't long though until the mix of strong, rebellious personalities clashed and the band fell apart. Their journey and life as a band was a short one but they managed to make a huge impact and Malcolm McLaren pretty much got what he wanted because it was their image as well as the music that attracted the fans. 

So Nancy and Sid became a couple and both of them lived a very drug and alcohol fueled lifestyle. They'd hang out at various shows, go to friend's parties at squats (a squat is a term used for a vacant building that has been taken over by a certain number of people who choose to live in it despite having no proper permission. Squats were often lit by candles and sleeping bags or mattresses would be placed on the floor to sleep on). When Sid's career with the Sex Pistols had come to an end, the drugs and relationship with Nancy took over. The pair flew to New York and settled in the famous Chelsea Hotel in 1978 in Room 100. The Chelsea Hotel was known for it's history of being home to some of the world's most famous artists, musicians and writers. However by 1978 it had fallen on hard times and most of it was run down with many of it's residents taking drugs. 

(The Chelsea hotel. Picture credit: thirteen)

Nancy and Sid turned their room into an absolute mess and lived on alcohol, drugs and takeaway food. It was a miserable existence. Nancy was now acting as his manger and when they had the strength, Sid would play the odd gig as a solo artist or they would do interviews and photoshoots. Most of the time they would spend in that room, various people would also come and go, including various drug dealers. Sid would be so out of it at times that when people would visit they would later say that he was totally out of it and didn't even realise that they were there. Sometimes there would be money and drugs lying around the room, things were getting worse and it was only a matter of time before something had to give and unfortunately it ended up with Nancy being found dead in the bathroom on the 12th of October, 1978, slumped between the toilet and the sink. Nancy was just 20 years old. She had been fatally stabbed and all the fingers were pointing at Sid as the one who was responsible. 

(Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. Picture credit: metro)

Witnesses who had been in the room just hours before had claimed that Sid had been really out of it and in no fit state to have stabbed anyone. The knife that had been used did belong to Sid and had been purchased by Nancy as a gift for him just weeks earlier (they both had an obsession with knives). With no witnesses to say otherwise, Sid was arrested for Nancy's murder despite the fact that various people (including drug dealers) were known to come in and out of their room, sometimes stealing money and their belongings. There was rumours that they owed money to a certain drug dealer and that it was all a set up to frame Sid. Some people believe it was a robbery gone wrong with someone getting into the room to steal money and Nancy trying to defend herself whilst Sid was passed out from drugs. A lot of people believe that Sid was unfairly framed for Nancy's murder and that the cops didn't take it seriously because the pair were well-known drug users. 

At first, in a daze and in shock, Sid blamed himself and said he had killed Nancy but he soon changed his statement. Seeing the footage of Sid being taken out of the Chelsea Hotel in handcuffs, you can clearly see the bolt of reality that hit him. He was in a state of shock and disbelief, sometimes on heroin people can believe that they are invincible and living in a dream world. This was cold, harsh reality and he was facing a long jail term which his mother knew he wouldn't be able to cope with. Sid could be brash, put an act on and act the big man when he was high, but in all reality he was just a scared young boy who was in way over his head and some people did take advantage of him. 

(Sid Vicious. Picture credit: salon)

Whilst Sid was in custody, various people were trying to raise the funds to get him out on bail. He was released on the 17th of Oct. Whilst in custody he was detoxing and was taking methadone. Just days after his release he attempted to take his own life by cutting his wrist and overdosing on methadone. His mother and Malcolm McLaren were present and able to get help. Sid wasn't happy with this as he claimed that he wanted to die to be with Nancy and it had all been part of his side of a suicide pact. 

There's all sorts of stories about Sid's time in New York after Nancy's murder and people who claim to have spoken to him. Apparently there is a recording on tape of him confessing to accidentally killing Nancy. He reportedly said that he and Nancy had been playing around with a knife when she got caught in the stomach. It looked to be a small cut and they didn't think anything of it because they were so out of it. He apparently left the room at some point and came back to find that Nancy had bled to death. 

The shock of Nancy's death didn't seem to sober Sid up because he was still going out and causing trouble, getting drunk and getting high. He'd even started a relationship with a woman named Michelle Robinson. This wasn't a good look for him so quickly after Nancy's death. It was no surprise when he was arrested again and sent right back to jail. His whole attitude and behaviour came across as uncaring and arrogant but away from the cameras, Nancy's mother claimed to have received a letter from Sid declaring his undying love for Nancy and that he missed and loved her. 

He reportedly wrote: ''Her pain was just too much to bear because, you see, I felt Nancy's pain as if it were my own, worse even....I love her with such passion. Every day is agony without her. I know now it is possible to die from a broken heart. Because when you love someone as much as we love each other. They become fundamental to your existence. So I will die soon even if I don't kill myself. I guess you could say that I'm pining for her. I could live without food or water longer than I'm going to survive without Nancy....she was too beautiful for this world.''

Sid spent seven weeks in jail and was forced to undergo a detox program. When he was released his mother came to collect him and arranged a bag of heroin for him. Various versions of events have been shared over the years but what actually happened was that his mother knew how much he suffered in prison. Apparently Sid had been bullied and beaten, he knew that there was a huge possibility that he was going to end up in prison for the rest of his life for Nancy's murder and he could not cope with that. His mother believed that she did the right thing by saving her son from the misery of a lifetime behind bars. Apparently when he was passed out high on heroin she injected some more into one of his veins. Sid was declared dead of a heroin overdose on the 2nd of February 1979, he was aged just 21. 

Sid was cremated and his mother secretly took his ashes to Nancy's grave site at King David Memorial Park in Pennsylvania where she scattered them on Nancy's grave. Some people thought this was in poor taste and others thought that it was fitting that they were together again. 

(Nancy's grave. Picture credit: findagrave)

Due to the death of Sid, who was due to go on trial for Nancy's murder, the case was closed. 

Various other people have been suspected of killing Nancy over the years but all have denied it and some have even passed away. An actor and stand-up comic by the name of Rockets Redglare fell under suspicion as he reportedly delivered drugs to Nancy and Sid's hotel room on a number of occasions, including that night but he denied it right up until his death in 2001. 

With so many unsavory characters coming in and out of that room at all hours of the day and night and no security cameras in the lobby back then, there's no way of ever finding out who else (if anyone) was really there that night. Decades have gone by since Nancy died and the chances are that anyone who did visit that room are no longer with us and take any secrets they may have, to the grave. It could just be that Sid and Nancy were high on drugs and played around too rough with the knife and an accident happened. Sid passed out on the bed and Nancy crawled to the bathroom. Her injury was a cut to the abdomen and maybe she went to the bathroom (still out of it on drugs) to try and sort herself out with some towels or something and just slumped down. If Sid was guilty it's clear to see that it wasn't an intentional killing, it was a tragic and stupid mistake that should never have happened but the way that they both lived, it was only a matter of time before something happened. 

The thing about Sid and Nancy and old school stars like them is that back then, musicians were more for real. They actually lived that life and a lot of them didn't make it. Some were lucky and thankfully are still with us today. But there was nothing glamorous about it and I think that sometimes some people forget that, especially younger people or up and coming artists who fancy being a chip off the old block. It's not games and it's not fun. Sid was famous for being violent, a drug user who was all the worst things that you could imagine a famous person to be. Could you imagine asking him for a selfie or an autograph? You wouldn't know if you were going to get a punch or a spit on the face. Deep down he was just a kid caught up in everything but he got lost in the character of Sid Vicious and felt that he had to constantly make a show wherever he went. 

In the end Sid and Nancy as glamourised as we like to paint them now, ended up living in a run-down hotel room with drug dealers as pals and died in horrible circumstances before either of them reached the age of 22. It's heartbreaking and really shows the downward spiral of drugs and how important it is to keep your feet on the ground where fame is concerned. Adding heroin into everything just further fueled Sid's feelings of being invincible and that's why I mention that true moment when he was led outside of the hotel in handcuffs, reality set in and you could see that deep down he was just a frightened kid but soon had to switch the act back on for the cameras. 

Some people can become famous to the point that they get lost in their own reality and you pair drugs and huge ego into the mix and you have an absolute bonfire. 

What do I think of Sid and Nancy? well. Nancy was troubled and looking for something and she thought she had found it in Sid. He thought he had found his soulmate in her. There's no doubt that they loved each other but there was also a toxic element to their relationship. Things could get violent and Nancy was very jealous of other girls approaching Sid, she would order Sid to punch girls in the face as an act of proving his love and devotion to her. Sid was known to punch Nancy as vice versa. Two troubled young people lost in life, coming together and it was a disaster, it was never going to end well. Malcolm McLaren (who has since passed away himself) was part of the problem, he saw Sid as the poster boy for the band that he wanted to create and encouraged the violence. The other band members themselves have been accused of using Sid as a sort of attraction for the band's rough image. 

(Nancy and Sid. Picture credit: steveemberton)

Do I think that Sid killed Nancy? it's a really difficult question to answer because they were both in the room at the same time, the knife that belonged to Sid had been used and the story he had reportedly told a friend about them playing around with the knife and him passing out, sounded plausible. On the other hand, everyone knew they had that room and that money was in there. People were always coming back and forth and drug dealers were always around. It would have been interesting to see this case being explored in a courtroom, maybe we could have found answers from that? I guess after so many years we may never know. 

Since Nancy's death the Chelsea Hotel has undergone so many transformations and the room (Room 100) no longer exists. A lot of people are still fascinated with this case today and some people believe the case should be re-opened and re-investigated but I don't know if that would bring any answers. I don't think the police kept any of the evidence for proper DNA testing and there is no way, obviously that they can go back over the room where Nancy died. 

RIP Nancy & Sid. 

Further Reading & Sources:

Sid Vicious | Sex Pistols Website

Sid Vicious: Article | The Independent

Nancy Spungen: Article | Rolling Stone

Sid Vicious: Article | The Guardian

Sid Vicious: Article | History Channel

Sid Vicious: Article | Metro

Sid Vicious | Wikipedia

Nancy Spungen: Article | Daily Mail

Nancy Spungen: Article | Far Out Magazine

Nancy Spungen: Article | NY Mag

Nancy Spungen | Wikipedia

Sex Pistols | Wikipedia

Malcolm McLaren | Wikipedia

Malcolm McLaren: Article | New York Times

Hotel Chelsea | Official Website

Hotel Chelsea | Wikipedia

Sid Vicious: The Final 24 | Documentary

And I Don't Want To Live This Life: A Mother's Story of Her Daughter's Murder | Book by Deborah Spungen

Sid Vicious: No One is Innocent | Book by Alan Parker 

Have you ever seen the Sid & Nancy movie? You can find it here on YouTube 

What are your thoughts on Sid and Nancy? Do you believe that Sid killed Nancy or do you have another theory? Please leave your comments below or contact me via email: or message me on socials: Caledonian Kitty

I'll be taking a little break this coming week because it's my birthday on November 5th but I will be back soon with more true crime content. 

I hope you will join me in the next post, take care until next time... 

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