Sid and Nancy's blood-spattered history to go on show in gallery

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

It remains one of the most famous deaths in rock and roll. Some even say the moment Nancy Spungen's blood-drenched body - a knife wound to her stomach - was discovered was the moment punk rock died too.

It led to the arrest of Sid Vicious, the former Sex Pistol and Spungen's partner, an icon of the punk movement and a drug addict. Vicious, who died three months later of a heroin overdose, was charged with second-degree murder over the 1978 killing that took place at New York's Chelsea Hotel.

Now artefacts from hotel room 100, in which the couple lived, including one poster spattered with blood, are to be displayed for the the first time as art at an exhibition.

They form part of a major collection of material assembled from the brief period in the 1970s when the Sex Pistols and their Svengali-like manager Malcolm McLaren prompted a revolution in music, clothing and art.

Posters from the room will be shown publicly for the first time at the London gallery The Hospital, which was set up by the musician Dave Stewart. One of them, publicising the Sex Pistols' only official album release, Never Mind The Bollocks, is flecked with blood.

Both Vicious and Spungen, whose tempestuous relationship was chronicled in the 1986 film Sid And Nancy, injected drugs. It is unclear whether the spots of blood were as a result of their use or of Spungen's bloody death.

Contemporary art dealer Paul Stolper and Andrew Wilson, deputy editor of Art Monthly, have spent 15 years assembling the collection. Their collection includes original T-shirts, posters and handwritten lyrics, including some by Vicious which were never recorded.

The Chelsea Hotel has long been an artistic haunt. Dylan Thomas, Eugene O'Neill, Vladimir Nabokov and William S Burroughs are among those who stayed for extended spells. Andy Warhol shot footage there.

Vicious and Spungen went to live at the hotel on West 23rd Street in August 1978 after the Sex Pistols had disintegrated, dotting the band's posters around their new home.

On the morning of 12 October that year, the bass player woke to find his girlfriend's stabbed body on the floor. He was eventually charged with second-degree murder, the assumption being that he attacked her while in a drug-fuelled stupor.

Vicious died of an overdose at the age of 21 the following year while out on bail, thus ensuring his position as an icon for his "live fast, die young" existence.

Mr Stolper said he and Wilson stumbled across the hotel items by chance after bidding for a bundle of posters, only one of which they actually wanted. It transpired they had been sold by Vicious's mother, Anne Beverley, and had come from the hotel room.

PUNK WARS BY IoS POET IN RESIDENCE MARTIN NEWELL

Then came some oiks with urchin hair
Who taught their peers to spit and swear
And saucer-eyed on whizz - or drunk
Invented music known as Punk
No cheesecloth Californian guff
For these ingrates, they'd had enough
Of grinning hippy laid-back bruv
In dungarees, his peace and love
And nothing on the radio
But what you were allowed to know
A constant stream of dismal dreck
Which made you hate the record deck
Two breathless battered years, about
The punk wars raged and fizzled out
Till out of chaos, spewed the cash
The Damned, The Pistols and The Clash
And then a glut of lesser gods
Who'd broken through against the odds
The music vampires sniffed the air
Waved baffled chequebooks in the air
Signed anything that looked the part
Bought up the fashion and the art
Fixed fangs on necks, dug in, drank deep
Drew curtains then went back to sleep
Then Romeo sat hands on head
While Juliet lay stabbed in bed
And legends on the leathers read
Punks's Not Dead. Punk's Not Dead
It was of course, at least by now
The world wakes up at times, somehow
Some racket shakes it from its doze
You have be there, I suppose

Comments