Common Sense: Rock Conspiracy theories

The Sex Pistols

Vol. 1:   Sid didn’t kill Nancy. Sid’s death wasn’t accidental

As far as conspiracy theories go, rock n roll is over flooded. Some are made up in simple absurd fun. Some of them have converts supporting these theories their entire lives. Most often, these stories have nothing to do with facts or logic.

After all, rock is mythical place that doesn’t need to make sense (at least in advertisements and on billboards it is). Whether it’s Elvis being seen eating a burger in a joint near the highway, Paul being killed to be replaced for the last decades, Morrison staging his own death or the 27 club being systematically murdered, rock theories are the refuge for those seeking rock trivia that can be made up. And since we like things that are made up, we start with a conspiracy theory involving Sid Vicious, bass player for the Sex
Pistols and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

Sid and Nancy, for better or worse were a famous couple in rock music. To some they represented a doomed love affair, to others Nancy was just a groupie that got lucky and landed a rock star. In official reports Nancy died after Sid stabbed and killed her in a drugged stupor.
Details are not clearly known as Sid himself died from a drug overdose soon afterwards.
Since Sid Vicious claimed to remember little of the details of that night and he himself died shortly after the fact, conspiracy theories abound. Most focus on someone else having killed Nancy and left Sid to take the blame. The others have to do with Sid’s own death and the involvement of a mysterious drug dealer or even his own mother administering the fatal drug dosage.

What is known is that by that point Vicious was in with a crowd of junkies that were elevating his already high consumption of drugs. Furthermore his band, that he had
been lucky to be a member of, had split up. Him and Nancy would die young and famous and because of this others would make money of their memory and tragedies.

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Sid was one of the biggest fans of the Pistols when the band started. He was also Johnny Rotten ‘s (John Lydon’s) friend. When original bass player and principal songwriter on the Pistols’ only studio album (Glen Matlock) got kicked out of the band, Lydon asked Sid to
join. After all Steve Jones (guitar) and Paul Cook (drums) knew each other since school, so it made sense to get his own friend in the band.
Sid couldn’t play much but he wasn’t as bad as legend goes. He would usually play root notes and play them on time. Other then that he worked on an image that after his death got copied in mass production. By 1977 the Pistols were terrifying Britain, becoming infamous in America (where they would have a disastrous tour in a little while) and releasing one of the most important albums.

Nancy Spungen came to London to meet the Pistols and she got involved with Sid. She’d seen New York and had been a groupie for bands and occasionally worked as a stripper. She also had a bad drug habit. By most accounts, by then Sid Vicious was dealing with similar hard drugs. He would become an addict not long after this. The two of them attempting to live together didn’t make things any easier on any of them, it seems.
In the mean time the Sex Pistols broke up and “manager” Malcolm McLaren thought of ways to prolong the shelf life of the Sex Pistols brand.

A solo career was lined up for Sid after he’d appeared in The Great Rock n Roll Swindle, a movie thought up by McLaren in an attempt to continue using the few resources the band still had available (which did not include Lydon’s contribution). It was indeed a band McLaren had started and to his credit he’d chosen the members. But where his idea was to merely cause trouble and confusion , The Sex Pistols turned out to be a basic, but very good rock n roll band. This was something management ignored completely as
they sought to get the band to play in places where audiences were guaranteed to hate the band and riot. The manager presented the Pistols as non-musician agitators. Of course, his idea of the band had originally been to support his clothing shop which the Pistols were doing through their success.

Then Nancy died. The official story goes that on 12 October 1978 Sid woke up after a night of binging on drugs and found Spungen dead, in a pool of her own blood. Police quickly arrested him Sid supposedly admitted to having fought Nancy the night before, but could not remember further details. The claim was that he was too severely stoned to remember what happened and could not have acted on upon clear judgement at the time.
Bail of $50.000 was set up which got paid by the record label. Sid was out on bail and in his words felt like “wanting to be under the ground”. Then on February 2nd 1979 Sid Vicious died of drug overdose. Theories about his death included the involvement of Sid’s own mother feeding him enough drugs to kill him, a “friend” trying to save Sid from having to go to jail for Nancy’s death, Sid having practically committed suicide as part of a death pact with Nancy. The less spectacular theory was that Sid, who was addicted by this stage had taken an accidental overdose.

Sid and Nancy became movie titles like “Bonnie and Clyde”, but it’s John Lydon that puts it best(video below).

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