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For many people, the day that Nancy Spungen’s body was found on the floor of the bathroom of a hotel room at the Chelsea Savoy, was the day that punk rock died.
But who was Nancy Spungen? Well, she was an American who grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in the Philadelphia suburbs, and even then, she had some disturbing displays of bad behavior.
She beat her younger brother David and her younger sister Susan and often threatened their lives. She even threatened her babysitter’s life with a pair of scissors!
She was thrown out of her public school at 11, sent to a boarding school that same year, then she was diagnosed as schizophrenic at the age of 15.
Nancy did go to university but it didn’t work out well and by the age of 17 she was in New York City and was soon accepted onto the local music scene as a groupie of sorts.
She was into the New York Dolls, Aerosmith, The Ramones, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop among others.
She was shameless and threw herself at the most famous musicians and bragged about her sexual exploits with every dirty dog in the city.
Iggy Pop told the world that he had liked her but seen her for what she was – trouble.
She arrived in 1977 in London, and by this time everyone was trying to avoid Nancy – her ex-Bebe Buell told people not to tell her where he was staying.
Then she came upon the Sex Pistols and once Johnny Rotten had passed on her, she set her sights on the Sex Pistols bassist, Sid Vicious.
Soon she was Sid’s girlfriend Nancy Spungen. And though the rest of the band and the British press had nicknamed her “nauseating Nancy” and banned her from joining the band on tour – Sid liked her and her acerbic personality.
Others said of “that chick Nancy Spungen” – “she was a very, very, very… bad influence on people who were already messed up.”
It was in 1978, following the last performance of the Sex Pistols that the couple moved into the Chelsea hotel where she would meet her end.
It had been popular with other major artists such as Patti Smith, Jerry Nolan, and Bob Dylan and had been featured in Rolling Stone.
Onlookers said that the heroin addict couple and their drug abuse were clearly heading for trouble but nobody intervened.
Sid found Nancy dead on the floor of the hotel room on October 12th, 1978.
She had received a single stab wound to her stomach and she had bled to death.
The knife that killed her was known to belong to Sid Vicious (real name John Simon Ritchie).
And he thought that he had killed her, he even confessed to the murder, and then Sid died of an opium overdose while on bail awaiting trial for her murder. Though before his overdose, he had violently attacked Patti Smith’s brother Todd while he was gigging with the band Skafish.
In the years since there have been many theories about Nancy’s death and the girl from New York City that has stirred up so much trouble on the scene. Most lean toward the idea that after a mutual heroin overdose, the two lovers had entered into a suicide pact but when Nancy stabbed herself, Sid was simply too out of it to complete his part of the bargain.
If Nancy hadn’t met Sid Vicious and the band, then it’s entirely possible that she’d never have been found dead and that punk would have continued for much longer.
But sadly, it was not meant to be and with Sid’s death, the scene just seemed to crumble away. It really was the day that punk died.