Sid Vicious And Nancy Spungen's Tragic Connection To The Chelsea Hotel

The Chelsea Hotel is known as a spot that has drawn creative types for over a century. Artists, writers, and musicians have created work inside its walls and even produced some work that was directly influenced by the hotel itself. Pop art icon Andy Warhol shot his film "Chelsea Girls" inside the hotel. Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen wrote the song "Chelsea Hotel No. 2," which was supposedly about a relationship he had with singer Janis Joplin (via Rolling Stone).

Other iconic works, though not about the hotel, were created within its walls. Writer Arthur C. Clarke turned out "2001: A Space Odyssey," and Madonna returned to the hotel to take photos for her 1992 photography book, while artist Jackson Pollock spent time there as well, according to Britannica. However, not every story about the Chelsea Hotel is a positive one about artistic expression and freedom.

Others stories set in the hotel, unfortunately, are tinged with death. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas died after slipping into a coma in the hotel, thought to be the result of a drinking binge. Perhaps the most infamous moment in the hotel's history is the murder of Nancy Spungen, believed to have been stabbed by her boyfriend, Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, per Biography.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Nancy Spungen meets Sid Vicious

Nancy Spungen grew up in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, but her rebellious demeanor was clear from the start, according to Biography. Before even reaching adulthood, Spungen spent time in a mental institution and a school for troubled youth, but at 17, she ran off to New York City and became entrenched in the city's burgeoning punk rock scene.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Sid Vicious was a fixture of the punk scene in London. He played in other bands until 1976, when he was offered the opportunity to handle bass duties for the scene's biggest band, the Sex Pistols (despite not knowing how to play bass guitar before taking the gig, per Biography). Not too long after Vicious first slung a bass guitar over his shoulder, Spungen arrived in London.

According to Rolling Stone, Spungen was upfront about supplying musicians with drugs, which gave her access to a lot of musicians. She had followed some friends to London and that's how she met Vicious, who struggled with drug addiction. The two hit it off immediately and became virtually inseparable.

Sid and Nancy at the Chelsea

In 1978, Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen moved into the Chelsea Hotel, which by that point had already cemented its reputation as a legendary hotspot for artists and other creative types. However, it was also known for the prevalence of drug use by some of its residents. According to author Sherrill Tippins in her book "Inside The Dream Palace: The Life And Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel," it was clear to anyone who visited him that Vicious' drug dependency was worsening.

Tippins wrote that on October 11, 1978, "Several visitors to the room saw Sid take as many as many as 30 tablets of Tuinal — a far larger dose of the barbiturate than most of us could survive, and one certain to put nearly anyone into a deep state of unconsciousness for hours, and he remained comatose through the morning's early hours."

According to New York Magazine, in the early morning hours of October 12, Nancy asked her friend, an actor named Rockets Redglare, to go out on the street and get her some drugs. At 7:30 that morning there were reports of a woman's moans coming from their room, but it wasn't until several hours later that Vicious called the Chelsea Hotel front desk for help.

The deaths of Sid and Nancy

When help arrived, they found Nancy Spungen on the bathroom floor with a stab wound to her stomach. The 20-year-old Spungen had bled to death. Not long after Spungen's death, Police apprehended Vicious and charged him with murdering her. According to New York Magazine, no other suspects were ever under serious consideration — which is obvious given how swiftly they threw cuffs on Vicious.

Vicious was released on $25,000 bail — which according to Rolling Stone was posted by his record label, Virgin Records — but he was wildly distraught over his girlfriend's death and attempted, unsuccessfully, to take his own life. He wound up being arrested again, this time for assault but was once again bailed out. Vicious never went to court for Spungen's murder because on February 2, 1979, Vicious was found dead in his new girlfriend Michelle Robinson's apartment, due to what was later determined to be a heroin overdose.

To this day, people question whether Vicious was really to blame for Spungen's death. Many have pointed out that there was never really an investigation into the murder. Other theories are that Spungen's death was the result of a robbery or a drug deal that went bad (per New York Magazine).