Strange life of a doomed groupie


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.Nico bedded rock stars

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.

Nico bedded rock stars
Nico and Lou Reed

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.”

Nico bedded rock stars

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Anita Ekberg Swedish sex symbol died destitute

‘La Dolce Vita’ Star 

Died January 11, 2015

“I was lonely, but I have no regrets. I have loved, cried, been mad with happiness. I have won and I have lost.”

Anita Ekberg died destitute

The 5-foot-7-inch blonde was born on September 29, 1931 in Malmo, Sweden. At 19 she was elected Miss Sweden, and although she didn’t win the Miss Universe contest, she got a modeling contract in the United States.

A film contract with Howard Hughes’s RKO studio went nowhere, so she went over to Universal and acted in small roles that played up her “Swedish bombshell” looks.

After five years in Hollywood, she ended up in Rome and her famous role in Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic La Dolce Vita, with her frolicking in Rome’s Trevi Fountain.

The gorgeous Swede made Rome her home and over the next ten years acted in a couple of dozen movies, some memorable, some forgettable. Her two marriages — to American actor Rick Van Nutter, and British actor Anthony Steele — kept her in the spotlight.

Movie roles in the 1970s didn’t come often, but she made a comeback of sorts in 1987 in Fellini’s Intervista, in which the director narrates his career in the form of memories, dreams, realities and fantasies.

Anita Ekberg retired from acting in 2002 after 50 years in the business.

In December of 2011, the 80-year-old former sex symbol was reported to be “destitute” following three months in hospital with a broken hip.

While hospitalized, her home was robbed of jewelry and furniture, and her villa was badly damaged by fire. She applied for help from the Fellini Foundation, but it also was having financial difficulties.

Anita Ekberg died at the age of 83 at the clinic San Raffaele in Rocco di Papa from complications of enduring illnesses. She was cremated and her remains were buried at the cemetery of Sweden’s Stanör Church.

With notes from Mattias Thuresson

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