Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious on Trial for the Murder of Girlfriend

Sid Vicious, bass player and sometime vocalist for the Sex Pistols, woke up on the floor of his room at the Hotel Chelsea on October 12, 1978. His girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, was dead on the bathroom floor of a single stab wound to the abdomen; she likely bled to death.

The knife that killed her belonged to Vicious, though he would periodically claim that he stabbed her without intent to kill, that he didn’t remember the incident at all, or that Nancy fell on the knife. Charged with second-degree murder and released on bail, he assaulted Todd Smith (brother of punk rock singer-songwriter Patti Smith) and was sent to the Rikers Island Prison Complex.

He was released on bail again February 1, 1979, and attended a party to celebrate his freedom. Sid’s mother, who’d been acquiring her son’s drugs for years—and who appears behind him in the sketch Dengrove drew at his bail hearing—obtained the lethal dose of heroin that left Vicious dead the following morning. He was 22. Since his death, fans as well as law enforcement officials have theorized Spungen’s murder might have been a burglary or drug deal gone wrong.