Alan G. Parker’s “Who Killed Nancy?” takes another look at the tragic Sid & Nancy saga

By on August 5, 2019

Perhaps you think you already know the answer to the question posed in the title of Alan G. Parker’s documentary Who Killed Nancy? (2009), but if you aren’t sure — and haven’t already seen Danny Garcia’s Sad Vacation: The Last Days of Sid and Nancy (2016) or other similar films — then have another look at the tragic Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen saga, now streaming on Night Flight Plus.

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On October 12, 1978, the lifeless body of twenty year-old Nancy Spungen — ex-hooker, occasional stripper, heroin addict and, most infamously, the girlfriend of Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie), 21-year old former bassist for the Sex Pistols — was found in the bathroom of the Chelsea Hotel room they shared, dead from a fatal stab wound.

Vicious became the NYPD’s main suspect, but during their routine murder investigation they barely conducted any interviews and didn’t even properly get fingerprints from the murder scene.

Nevertheless, prosecutors believed they had an “open and shut” case, believing that Sid had killed Nancy.

The local New York media were equally responsible for pronouncing Sid guilty, hours before her body was even transported to the morgue, and long before there was even a trial.

Then, in February of 1979, Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose, and the case — as far as nearly everyone was concerned — was effectively closed.

Parker — whose personal journey to discover “the truth” led to the publication, in 2008, of Sid Vicious: No One is Innocent — decided that Nancy Spungen’s death, and whether or not Sid was involved, was worthy of another closer look.

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Alan G. Parker

Who Killed Nancy? features Parker’s own interviews (as well as vintage interview clips) with Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Malcolm McLaren, Johnny Thunders, Keith Levine, Handsome Dick Manitoba (of the Dictators) and his wife Zoe Hansen, Howie Pyro, Don Letts, Leee Black Childers and many, many others.

Parker interviewed 128 individuals, not all of whom made it into the film’s final edit.

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There are also re-creations featuring a “Sid” (Nigel Marshall) and a “Nancy” (Sophie Boyes), and several animated sequences, as well as excerpts from films like Lech Kowalski‘s excellent D.O.A.: A Right of Passage (also streaming on NF Plus) and Rachel Amodeo’s What About Me?

Who Killed Nancy? also features songs performed by ex-Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle, Ricky Warwick, Neon Leon, Steve Dior’s Pizzo & the Delinquents and London Cowboys, as well as “Chinese Rocks” by Sid Vicious & the Idols.

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Who Killed Nancy? was given its theatrical premiere at NYC’s Cinema Village theater on July 30, 2010.

Read more about director Alan G. Parker below.

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Alan G. Parker — not to be confused with fellow British filmmaker Sir Alan Parker, director of Pink Floyd: The Wall, Angel Heart, and The Commitments, among others — was born in 1965.

He grew up in district of Mill Hill, Blackburn, in Lancashire, England.

As a child, he was diagnosed with macrocephaly (a condition in which the head is abnormally large) and dyslexia — and, as an adult, with a form of Asperger’s Syndrome — all of which made him the target of bullies.

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He found escape and inspiration through music, which led to him writing about it (mainly UK glam rock and punk), founding his first fanzine, 4,000 Holes — cheekily answering a query posed in the Beatles‘ “A Day in the Life” — and promoting his own club nights at King George’s Hall.

Parker ended up working briefly for Judy Toton PR, where he was able to help promote the bands he loved — including the Buzzcocks, Public Image Ltd. and Stiff Little Fingers — and that experience soon led to writing for glossy publications like Loaded and Record Collector.

Hired to provide background research on Julien Temple‘s Sex Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury, Parker later thought that Temple’s film didn’t quite tell the story he knew about the Pistols.

He approached Malcolm McLaren and pitched him on telling the real story, which resulted in his first film as a director, Never Mind the Sex Pistols (2005).

In the process of learning about Sid Vicious, Parker became very close to Sid’s mum, Anne Beverley, who was apparently so impressed by his writing that she wanted him to write the definitive book about her son, hoping that he’d clear her dead son’s name for the murder she claimed he didn’t commit.

Parker lived with Anne Beverley for three months, in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, England (she died of a suspected drug overdose on September 18, 1996).

Parker has written three books about Sid Vicious so far: Sid Vicious: No One is Innocent, Vicious: Too Fast to Live, and Sid’s Way: Sid Vicious — as well as books about bands like the Clash and Stiff Little Fingers.

Parker’s raison d’être as a documentarian (both books/films) has been to tell some of the salacious unknown stories that often doesn’t make it into corporate-backed documentaries about musicians, like their drug use.

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In addition to directing Who Killed Nancy? for Moxie Makers/Soda Pictures, Parker has also directed other music-related documentaries and mini-series, including Rebel True – The History of the Clash (2007), Monty Python: Almost the Truth – The Lawyer’s Cut (2009), Hello Quo: The Official Status Quo Movie (2012), and It Was Fifty Years Ago Today!: The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper & Beyond (2017).

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As a contributor, he’s appeared in several music-related TV series, including “Smash It Up: The Series” and the “Sid Vicious – His Final Hours” episode of Final 24 which we also have streaming on Night Flight Plus.

Watch Who Killed Nancy? and other music documentaries on Night Flight Plus.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.