The First Clue Of Sid Vicious’ Dark Side

Bob Gruen has probably seen a lot since he has photographed numerous rock icons over the years, from the most family-friendly to the most wicked ones. Well, as one can guess, the first place for being the most unruly rocker should probably go to Sid Vicious, which we can quickly decide based on hearsay, but Gruen would find out by experience.

The photographer accompanied Sex Pistols on their now-infamous U.S. tour in 1978 and decided to spend some time with Vicious to immortalize the rocker through his lens. He wasn’t the only one in Sid’s entourage as some other journalists, and a tall, hippie-looking bodyguard were also along for the ride. So, as the group followed the rocker on a subway ride, the bodyguard’s six-inch knife captured Sid’s attention.

Gruen later recalled how the punk icon wanted to try the knife out to see if it was ‘sharp’ enough, and who was to be a better canvas than Sid himself to test the knife out? So, the rocker drew a three-inch-long cut on his arm just like that. In the end, Sid’s curiosity was fed, but when he was taken to a hospital, whether it was because of his antics or that he didn’t have insurance, the hospital wouldn’t help out with Sid’s wound.

So, the rocker ended up going on an hours-long plane ride with his bleeding three-inch cut and acting casually. To make matters worse, none of his bandmates or his team cared about the injury, as if it was normal to see Sid bleeding. So, Gruen decided to take the matter upon himself and tried to cover up Sid’s wound with the tools at hand.

This story might seem pretty dark to many, with Sid cutting himself out of curiosity and not caring about it, but this wasn’t the first time the rocker would self-harm. Well, his life was complex from the beginning, as it started with a mother who he claimed hooked him up on drugs and ended shortly after Nancy Spungen’s infamous death following his overdose.

However, his friend and fellow punk, Public Image Ltd. bassist Jah Wobble, had witnessed what he thought was one of the earliest and the darkest clues that Sid didn’t have a bright future ahead of him. Wobble spoke to the Guardian in 2009 and recalled how Sid was destined to self-harm since day one.

“I sensed his dark side as early as 1975,” recalled Wobble. He continued, “He had a counselor at Kingsway; they had obviously identified him as a kid with problems. He’d already said that he was going to kill himself. The counselor had told him to bring a friend along, so we both went one day for a laugh.”

Still, the joke they were about to make wasn’t that funny. The rocker noted, “The counselor said, ‘John [Sid’s real name] says he’s going to kill himself,’ and I said, ‘He might as well end it all.’ Sid nodded his head very gravely. The counselor was a very earnest Hampstead bloke, and he didn’t know what he was dealing with. His mouth was open. It was supposed to be fun, but as I came out, I thought, ‘Oh God.’”

Thus, Vicious’ life was complex since day one, and even though there had been people who tried to help him, the rocker didn’t care much about it or, perhaps, he didn’t believe that he would get better. No matter how chaotic Sid’s life might have been, his end was undoubtedly tragic. It would be fair to say that the rocker deserved better both as a young man and an aspiring musician, but sadly, he tried to live the way he knew the best.