Did Sid Vicious Kill Nancy Spungen?

Image Credit: The Filth and The Fury

‘Pistol’ is a biographical drama series that follows the remarkable story of the iconic but short-lived English punk rock band, the Sex Pistols. From their early days and Johnny Rotten’s introduction to their turbulent US tour and subsequent breakup, the FX miniseries depicts the ups and downs of the band and its members in gritty detail. A major turning point for the Sex Pistols is the addition of Sid Vicious as the bass player.

Sid’s chaotic persona weighs heavily on the band, all of which is exacerbated by Sid’s disturbed girlfriend, Nancy. In keeping with many of the events surrounding the band, the death of Sid’s girlfriend is also sudden and violent. Speculation about the one responsible for her death also abounds. Let’s take a closer look at Nancy Spungen’s murder.

How Did Nancy Spungen Die?

Born on February 27, 1958, in a middle-class Jewish family, Nancy Laura Spungen was raised in Philadelphia. She was emotionally disturbed ever since she was a child. In her teens, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Reports suggest that due to her troubled behavior, Nancy had a tough time in school as well as college, both of which she didn’t finish. After spending some time in New York, Nancy moved to London in the late 70s and joined the burgeoning punk scene there. She eventually met the Sex Pistols’ bassist, Sid Vicious, and the two embarked on a profoundly codependent relationship.

Image Credit: Inside Edition/YouTube

Many, including Sid’s fellow band members, described Nancy and Sid’s relationship as destructive. In his biography, lead singer John Lydon (better known as Johhny Rotten) said: “We did everything to get rid of Nancy… She was killing him. I was absolutely convinced this girl was on a slow suicide mission… Only she didn’t want to go alone. She wanted to take Sid with her… She was so utterly fucked up and evil.”

Nancy and Sid both used a variety of drugs, including heroin. After the Sex Pistols disbanded in 1978, Sid and Nancy moved to New York, where the former started playing as a solo musician while Nancy functioned as his manager. On October 12, 1978, Sid discovered Nancy dead on the bathroom floor of their room at the Chelsea Hotel. She apparently died sometime between 5 am and 9 am of blood loss from a knife wound in her abdomen.

Nancy was merely 20-years-old when she died, and Sid Viscious was subsequently arrested and charged with her murder. Vivienne Westwood, who was the band manager Malcolm McLaren’s partner, actually designed Sid Vicious T-shirts with the line “She’s dead, I’m alive, I’m yours” on them. However, whether Sid or someone else killed Nancy remains a heavily debated topic to this date.

Did Sid Vicious Kill Nancy Spungen?

When Sid Vicious was arrested, he gave an admission of sorts to the police, saying, “I did it because I’m a dirty dog.” However, he later retracted his statement, stating that he was asleep at the time of Nancy’s slaying and had no memory of it. Sid was subsequently charged with second-degree murder and immediately released on $50,000 bail. Sadly, a few months after that, on February 1, 1979, Sid died of a heroin overdose. The drugs were admittedly supplied by his mother, Anne Beverley, who, incidentally, died of suicide in 1996.

Image Credit: The Filth & The Fury

Despite being charged with Nancy’s murder, Sid was never imprisoned for the crime. Possibly because Sid died soon after Nancy’s murder, his involvement in the crime has remained a mystery. Various films and written pieces have explored alternate perpetrators. One version speculates that Nancy was killed by a drug dealer who often visited their hotel room. Investigations also revealed that the couple had been robbed of about $1,500 and that various drug dealers had visited the room the previous night. It was postulated that Nancy was murdered in a scuffle with a drug dealer or as the result of some kind of suicide pact.

Alan G. Parker’s 2009 documentary ‘Who Killed Nancy’ explores multiple sources, including 182 interviews and the original police case files. Sid’s mother, Anne, who Alan was friends with, also asked him to try and prove her son’s innocence. Alan seemingly realized over the course of his investigation that things didn’t add up and pointed out some aspects in the movie that made it unlikely that Sid killed Nancy. Notably, the former Sex Pistols bassist had taken about 30 tablets of a powerful sedative called Tuinal and would have likely been asleep at the time of the murder.

Ultimately, however, even Alan acknowledged that no one could know with absolute certainty how Nancy died. Thus, it appears that the supposed mystery of who actually killed Nancy endures. With those closest to the crime now dead and the documentary maker having explored almost all other avenues, new information on the event seems difficult to come by. While it cannot be said for certain that Sid Vicious was not guilty of killing Nancy Spungen, since his case never went to trial, he wasn’t officially judged guilty.

Read More: How Did Pistols’ Wally Nightingale Die?