NICO’S STORY TOLD IN NEW BOOK
A German model known as Nico who was nearly six feet tall and had the baritone voice of a man bedded some of the biggest rock and movie stars of the 1960s.
“She acquired the reputation of a gothic Garbo or punk Dietrich, by turns mysterious and aloof,” writes Ian Thompson in The Guardian.
Nico had affairs and serious relationships with Lou Reed, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Andy Warhol, and French film star Alain Delon. She also is said to have had lesbian affairs with French actress Jeanne Moreau and fashion icon Coco Chanel.
After a glamorous, weird, heroin-addicted life, Nico died relatively unknown in 1988 after falling off a bicycle and hitting her head. She was 49.
Her story has been told in a new book ‘You Are Beautiful And You Are Alone: The Biography Of Nico’ by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike.
She was born Christa Päffgen in Cologne in 1938. Her father was killed in the war when she was four. The little girl and her mother struggled to survive in a small flat in Berlin as bombs exploded all around them.
In 1954 at the age of 16 she changed her name to Nico and moved to Paris to become a fashion model, appearing in such glossy mags as Vogue.
When she was 21 she met the Italian film director Federico Fellini who gave her a cameo role in his film ‘La Dolce Vita.’ Other small roles followed, during which Nico had affairs with Alain Delon, and a relationship with Jeanne Moreau.
In New York she hung out with Andy Warhol, who produced the debut album of Lou Reed’s band The Velvet Underground and worked her into the album as the lead vocalists on three tracks.
The album, ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico,’ was panned by critics because of its lurid lyrics on sadomasochism and drug abuse, but in later years it was regarded as one of the most influential rock albums ever.
Nico’s 1968 solo album ‘The Marble Index’ was praised for its “doom-laden, Germanic atmospherics and dirge-like harmonium playing.”
Nico spent the last years of her life in squalid flats in London and Manchester, venturing outside in a long black cape and biker boots.
“Her days were often spent in bed, shooting up, or trying to score drugs,” writes the book’s author, as reported by Tom Leonard in the Daily Mail.
Her death was as offbeat as her life. While on vacation on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, she fell off her bike and hit her head, and died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Her life was characterized by doom and gloom. A friend once described living in Nico’s house as like “living in a funeral parlour.”