January 2, 1979: Sid Vicious Murder Trial Begins

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Sid mugshot

Sid Vicious mugshot

In October 1977, the Sex Pistols‘ Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols was released. And as controversial as the punk rock outfit and their shocking single “God Save the Queen” (released in May ’77”) was, no one would have expected that they would grab headlines less than a year after the album’s release for a shocking murder involving one of their members.

But on this day in 1979, bassist Sid Vicious – real name John Simon Ritchie – went on trial in New York City for second degree murder in the stabbing death of his 20-year-old girlfriend Nancy Spungen on October 12 the previous year.

He had awoken from a heroin-induced stupor to find her dead on the floor of the bathroom in their room at the Chelsea Hotel. Although friends and drug dealers had visited the couple’s room the night Spungen died, prosecutors felt Vicious was the correct suspect for the crime.

A week after he was arrested, Vicious tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrist. He was quoted as having said: “I want to join Nancy and keep up my end of the pact.”

Related: Our list of classic punk rock songs

Vicious was eventually released on $50,000 bail but had subsequently been rearrested for assaulting Todd Smith, singer Patti Smith’s 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.

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