Sunday, November 17, 2013


This recent issue of the NME reprinted one of my  stories that I wrote for the paper back in the 1970s, concerning Keith Richards' heroin trial in Toronto. Published 35 years ago on 18th November 1978. I much appreciated this tribute to the work that I did under the nom de plume Dick Tracy between 1975 and 1982.

You can read the whole article here:

I say the whole article because on the reprint they clipped off one short para at the end. As follows:

'So Richards is out once more. Meanwhile Vicious spends time in Bellevue psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. Another week in the history of rock and roll.'

This gave the piece a different cultural resonance. Richards got off and out due to the power of the Rolling Stones empire who pulled every string and favour to keep their man from going down for a long time. Meanwhile and simultaneously, we were following the grim final days of Sid Vicious who was badly hooked on heroin and facing a murder trail. He had, it seems, been abandoned and had few resources to help him. Its worth looking back on what happened.

At the beginning of 1978, The Sex Pistols embarked on their first American tour, which fell apart in just two weeks. Vicious flew back to New York to hook up with girlfriend Nancy Spungen and, after a short trip to London and Paris in connection the Sex Pistols film, they set up home in the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street. Sid had a new band The Idols but that October he was arrested for killing Spungen who was found dead in their apartment from a single stab wound. According to

'Police found Vicious wandering the hotel hallways, crying; he was immediately taken into custody and charged with second-degree homicide, although Virgin Records put up the money required for bail shortly afterwards. Vicious' mental state became even more erratic following his arrest, and an attempt at suicide by slashing his wrist was made several days later, resulting in a two-week internment at the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital. Another arrest followed in December due to an assault on Patti Smith's brother Todd at Max's Kansas City; after serving two months in jail, Virgin supplied his bail for a second time, and he was released once again pending his trial for Spungen's murder. That trial would never take place: Vicious was found dead of what is speculated to be a deliberate heroin overdose on February 2nd at the home of his new girlfriend Michelle Robinson.'
Since that time, I have often thought about the contrast between the fate of Richards and Vicious but then, just yesterday, as chance would have it, I found this extraordinary news story from Johnny Rotten. It appears that one of the few people who stepped in to help Sid was, in fact, Mick Jagger. According to Uncut
John Lydon has spoken about his admiration for Mick Jagger, who paid Sid Vicious' lawyers when the Sex Pistols bassist was arrested for the alleged murder of girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
The full interview was in The Daily Record and can be found here

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