A Vicious Love Story by Teddie Dahlin (New Haven Publishing)

Everyone visiting this site should be somewhat familiar with Sid Vicious by now. Vicious’ (born John Ritchie) brief tenure in the public spotlight was infamously marked by scandals, fights, drug addiction, and the alleged murder of girlfriend Nancy Spungen in a New York City hotel in 1978. Unfortunately these headline-grabbing acts ended up defining mainstream perception of punk rock for years following his death in 1979. Teddie Dahlin’s book, A Vicious Love Story, shows readers a different side of Vicious, which makes it a revelatory read. Living in Norway, sixteen year-old Dahlin was drafted in as The Sex Pistols’ interpreter during a two-day tour stop in Trondheim. Dahlin wasn’t particularly a fan of The Sex Pistols or punk rock, but she took the job anyway and almost immediately found herself falling for Sid, who she paints as a shy and insecure person haplessly caught up in his band’s whirlwind of manufactured chaos. Their romance ended forty-eight hours later when the band rolled out of town, but during that time Vicious spoke repeatedly about wanting to dump his girlfriend Nancy Spungen for Dahlin, creating a tantalizing “what if” scenario for fans to ponder (although it also makes you wonder how many other girls Vicious told a similar story to on tour). A Vicious Love Story isn’t the most professionally put together book – there are errors, the margins are laughably large, and many of the pictures are rotated 90 degrees from horizontal – but even with those faults, it’s kind of refreshing to read about a mythic band like the Pistols from the perspective of someone who wasn’t a writer, or even a fan. Dahlin’s tale includes many conversations recounted line for line, and minor details of seemingly mundane events from those romantic days more than three decades ago, which means she either has a perfect photographic memory, or she’s filling in some gaps to flesh out the story. Either way, A Vicious Love Story is a good read, so I’ll forgive any minor embellishments or truth-bending. Her first-hand tale is supplemented by quotes and additional perspectives from those who travelled in the Sex Pistols’ orbit, like roadie Roadent, Casino Steel (The Boys), Viv Albertine (The Slits), and others. Good stuff.