Paul Cook Recalls Sid Vicious Nearly Taking His Own Life During Sex Pistol’s Undercover Tour
We might say that behind Sid Vicious’ notorious public image was a mentally troubled young man who struggled with addiction and fame. During a recent questionnaire with NME, Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook discussed the band’s infamous undercover U.S. tour, bandmate Vicious’ deteriorating mental health, and how the bassist had almost taken his life.
Cook recalled old memories, answered questions about his challenging career with the Sex Pistols, and discussed the band’s undercover Southern U.S. tour in 1978. The drummer revealed that the act had to perform under aliases so that their gigs wouldn’t be canceled and emphasized how challenging the period was.
“In the maelstrom of it, it felt weirdly normal.” told the drummer about using aliases while touring. “On the ‘Anarchy’ tour, we were going around on a wing and a prayer, turning up to cities and finding that gigs were canceled. There was press and police following us around. Looking back, it’s bizarre that we managed to survive it all.”
He continued, “It was getting heavy and dark on the last American tour going round Southern states, playing cowboy towns where audiences were throwing pig ears and rats at us alongside the usual bottles and cans. Sid was out of control, and the band was breaking up before our eyes.”
The band had to be escorted by the police and security guards. “We had police with us at the side of the stage, undercover police following us around, and the label had hired two ex-Vietnam vets as our security guards to look after us, and we were trying to escape from them.”
The tour had deteriorated Vicious’ mental health. Cook confessed, “That all culminated in Sid nearly killing himself in San Francisco, and that’s when we broke up originally. We just thought, ‘This can’t go on, it’s getting out of control, and someone is going to die.’ That’s when I personally felt enough is enough.”
While touring in 1978, the record label wanted to take Sid off the drugs, but even when he was paid less not to buy substances, he could still get his hands on them. Even though Cook didn’t explicitly address how Sid almost killed himself, it was reported that he had cut his torso with a razor and wrote ‘gimme a fix’ after being denied drugs in 1978.
This wasn’t the only time Sid had self-harmed, though. The band’s photographer Bob Gruen had previously disclosed another incident when the bassist had cut himself out of curiosity while also on tour.