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Punk History: The Deaths of Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious

Written by: Jenae

Trigger warning: suicide, drug use, murder, self-harm, addiction


Sid Vicious and girlfriend, Nancy Spungen

Nancy Spungen was born to a middle class, Jewish family in February 1958 in Pennsylvania. After complications with birth, the family was sent home with the child about a week after she arrived. Growing up, Nancy was a difficult child. As an infant, her mother mentioned that all she did was scream. These types of fits continued past infancy and made Nancy a challenging child to raise due to her aggressive nature. While she was a troublemaker, she was incredibly intelligent, scoring very high on an IQ test at a young age. She excelled in school.

The violent behavior Nancy showed became more concerning as she got older, including missing school, attempts to kill a babysitter, violence towards her younger sister, and an attempted attack on her psychiatrist. Because of the behavior, Nancy’s parents sent her to a boarding school for troubled youth in CT. In 1972, her behavior would be more self-destructive, she ran away from her school and attempted suicide. After this, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 15.

Spungen graduated high school in 1974 and applied to CU Boulder. Six months into her first year, she was busted for buying weed from an undercover cop. Soon, she began keeping stolen stuff in her dorm and CU expelled her. Her father appeared on her behalf in court and she was banned from the state of Colorado. Nancy was unable to hold down regular employment and sold drugs to make ends meet.

Nancy’s rage and drug use would only get worse when she moved to New York City in 1974-1975. While in New York, Nancy continued to use drugs and got into sex work to survive financially. During this time, she followed many bands around like Aerosmith and the Ramones as a groupie. Her rep as a groupie was only furthered by her drug connections, getting drugs for bands. In 1977, she moved to London in an attempt to hook up with another band member. Instead, Nancy met the Sex Pistols. Nancy wanted to get with the lead singer, Johnny Rotten. He wasn’t interested and Nancy pursued bassist Sid Vicious instead. Their relationship moved quickly.

Sid and Nancy:

Other members of the Sex Pistols didn’t much care for Nancy’s abrasive nature but Sid Vicious was into it and encouraged her to travel with them while they toured. Both were using drugs, but together the drug use got worse, the duo began using heroin. Nancy was so disliked by the public that she was called Nauseating Nancy by the media for her aggressive and violent behavior.

The Sex Pistols broke up in 1978. At this time, Sid and Nancy moved into the hotel Nancy would be later found dead in. Over the next 9 months, the relationship became even more violent and fueled by drug use. There are conflicting reports that the violence was bi-directional. (Check for understanding) By October 1978, their relationship had ended in homicide.


Nancy Spungen was found under the sink of a room in Hotel Chelsea due to one stab wound in the stomach. Sid Vicious said he had a foggy memory of what happened due to the drug use of the night before. Spungen had been stabbed with a knife that belonged to Vicious. Vicious was arrested right away. During the questioning, he offered many conflicting accounts of what had happened, ranging from they had fought, “I stabbed her, but I never meant to kill her”, no memory of what happened, and that Nancy fell on to the knife during a fight. Vicious was charged with the murder, plead not guilty and was released on bail.

10 days after that night, Vicious attempted suicide. He was then hospitalized only to attempt suicide again in the hospital. All he said was “I want to be with Nancy”. Vicious would continue to get into legal trouble with his death from a heroin overdose four months after Nancy’s death.


There are many theories about the night of Spugen’s murder. Some include that she was killed by two drug dealers who were delivering drugs to the pair or a robbery gone wrong at the hands of drug dealers.

After the deaths of both Vicious and Spungen, Vicious’ mother claimed that the pair had a suicide pact and Vicious’ death was intentional.



All Things Interesting

Rolling Stones

Police report

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