Monday, January 24, 2011



Nico (born Christa Päffgen, 16 October 1938 – 18 July 1988)[ was a German singer, composerfashion model, actress, and Warhol Superstar. She is known for both her vocal collaboration on The Velvet Underground's debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, and her work as a solo artist from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. She also had roles in several films, including a cameo in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960) and Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls (1966), as herself. She was related to Hermann Päffgen, who founded the Päffgen brewery in 1883 in Cologne.
She died in July 1988, as a result of injuries sustained in a bicycling accident.

Early life

Standing 5' 10", with chiseled features and porcelain skin, Nico rose to prominence as a fashion model as a teenager. After leaving school at the age of thirteen she began selling lingerie and was soon spotted by fashion insiders. A year later, her mother found her work as a model in Berlin. She soon became one of the top fashion models of the period.
Her adopted name, 'Nico', which she used for most of her life, was given to her by photographer Herbert Tobias,[2] who was photographing her on a modeling job. He named her this after his ex-boyfriend, filmmaker Nikos Papatakis. She soon moved to Paris and began working for VogueTempoVie NuoveMascotte SpettacoloCameraElle, and other fashionmagazines. She was briefly hired by Coco Chanel[citation needed]. In addition to her native German, she spoke four languages: English, Italian, Spanish, and French.
Before breakthrough
After appearing in several television advertisements, Nico got a small role in Alberto Lattuada's film La Tempesta (1958). She also appeared in Rudolph Maté's For the First Time, with Mario Lanza, later that year.
In 1959 she was invited to the set of Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, where she attracted the attention of the acclaimed director, who gave her a minor role in the film as herself. By this time, she had moved to New York to take acting classes with Lee Strasberg.
She appears as the cover model on jazz pianist Bill Evans' 1962 album, Moon Beams.[3] After splitting her time between New York and Paris, she got the lead role in Jacques Poitrenaud's Strip-Tease (1963). She recorded the title track, which was written by Serge Gainsbourg but not released until 2001, when it was included in the compilation Le Cinéma de Serge Gainsbourg.
In 1962 Nico gave birth to her son, Christian Aaron "Ari" Päffgen, commonly held to have been fathered by French actor Alain Delon. Delon always denied his paternity. The child was raised mostly by Delon's mother and her husband and eventually was adopted by them, taking their surname, Boulogne.
Beginning of musical career
In 1965 Nico met Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and recorded her first single, "I'm Not Sayin'"/"The Last Mile", produced by Jimmy Page for Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label. Actor Ben Carruthers introduced her to Bob Dylan in Paris that summer. Dylan wrote the song "I'll Keep It with Mine" for her shortly thereafter, which she recorded for her first album, Chelsea Girl, in 1967.
After being introduced by Brian Jones, she began working in New York with Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey on theirexperimental films, including Chelsea GirlsThe ClosetSunset and Imitation of Christ.

The Velvet Underground and Nico

When Warhol began managing The Velvet Underground he proposed that the group take on Nico as a "chanteuse." They consented reluctantly, for both personal and musical reasons. The group became the centerpiece of Warhol'sExploding Plastic Inevitable, a multimedia performance featuring musiclightfilm and dance. Nico sang lead vocals on three songs ("Femme Fatale", "All Tomorrow's Parties", and "I'll Be Your Mirror") and backing vocals on another ("Sunday Morning") on the band's debut albumThe Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
Nico's tenure in the Velvet Underground was marked by personal and musical difficulties. Violist and bassist John Cale has written that Nico's long preparations in the dressing room and pre-performance good luck ritual (burning a candle) would often hold up a performance, which especially irritated band member Lou Reed. Nico's partial deafness also would sometimes cause her to veer off key, for which she was ridiculed by other band members.

Solo career


Immediately following her musical work with The Velvet Underground, Nico began work as a solo artist. For her debut album, 1967's Chelsea Girl, she recorded songs by Bob DylanTim Hardin and Jackson Browne, among others. Velvet Underground members Lou ReedJohn Cale and Sterling Morrison contributed to the album, with Nico, Reed and Cale co-writing one song, "It Was a Pleasure Then."[9] Chelsea Girl is a traditional chamber-folk album, which influenced artists such as Leonard Cohen[citation needed], with strings and flute arrangements by producer Tom Wilson. Nico was not satisfied with the album and had little say in production matters.

For The Marble Index, released in 1969, Nico wrote the lyrics and music. Accompaniment mainly centered around Nico'sharmoniumfolk.

Nico released two more solo albums in the 1970s, Desertshore and The End. Nico wrote the music, sang, and played the harmonium. Cale produced and played most of the other instruments on both albums. The End featured Brian Eno on synthesizer. She appeared at the Rainbow Theatre, in London, with Cale, Eno, and Ayers. The album 1 June 1974 was the result of this concert. Nico performed a version of the Doors' "The End" at this concert, which was the catalyst for The End later that year.

On 13 December 1974, Nico opened for Tangerine Dream's infamous concert at Reims Cathedral in Reims, France. The promoter had so greatly oversold tickets for the show that members of the audience couldn't move or reach the outside, eventually resulting in some fans urinating inside the cathedral hall.[10] The Roman Catholic Church denounced these actions, ordered the rededication of the cathedral and banned future performances on church property.
Nico and Island Records allegedly had many disputes during this time, and in 1975 the label dropped her from their roster.


Nico returned to New York in late 1979 where her comeback concert at CBGB in early 1980 was glowingly reviewed in The New York Times. She began playing regularly at the Mudd Club and other venues with Jim Tisdall accompanying her on harp and Gittler guitar. They played together on a sold-out tour of twelve cities in the East and Midwest.

Nico recorded her next studio album, Drama of Exile, in 1981.[1] It was a departure from her earlier work with John Cale, featuring a mixture of rock and Middle Eastern arrangements. She recorded her final solo album, Camera Obscura, in 1985, with The Faction (James Young and Graham Dids). Produced by John Cale, it featured Nico's version of the Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart song "My Funny Valentine".
A number of Nico's performances towards the end of her life were recorded and released, including 1982's HeroineLive In Tokyo, and her final concert, Fata Morgana, recorded on 6 June 1988. The double live album Behind the Iron Curtain was recorded during a tour of Eastern Europe, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and made from recordings of concerts in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest and other cities, and was released before her death in 1988.

Philippe Garrel films

Between 1970 and 1979, Nico made about seven films with French director Philippe Garrel. She met Garrel in 1969 and contributed the song "The Falconer" to his film Le Lit de la Vierge. Soon after, she was living with Garrel and became a central figure in his cinematic and personal circles. Nico's first acting appearance with Garrel occurred in his 1972 film, La Cicatrice Intérieure. Nico also supplied the music for this film and collaborated closely with the director. She also appeared in the Garrel films Anathor (1972); the silent Jean Seberg biopicLes Hautes Solitudes, released in 1974; Un ange passe(1975); Le Berceau de cristal (1976), starring Pierre Clémenti, Nico and Anita Pallenberg; and Voyage au jardin des morts(1978). His 1991 film J'entends Plus la Guitare is dedicated to Nico.

Personal life

Nico's grave in Berlin
Nico saw herself as part of a tradition of bohemian artists, which she traced back to the Romanticism of the early 19th century. She led a nomadic life, living in different countries. Apart from Germany, where she grew up, and Ibiza, where she died, Nico lived in Italy and France in the 1950s, spent most of the 1960s in the US, and lived in London in the early 1960s and again later in the 1980s, when she lived intermittently between London and Manchester.
Nico was a heroin addict for over 15 years. In the book Songs They Never Play on the Radio, James Young, a member of her band in the 1980s, recalls many examples of her troubling behaviour due to her "overwhelming" addiction - and also that Nico claimed to have never taken the drug whilst with the Velvets/Factory scene but only began using during her 1970's relationship with Philippe Garrel. However, shortly before her death, Nico stopped taking heroin and began methadone replacement therapy whilst also embarking upon a regimen of bicycle exercise and healthy eating.

Despite her musical talents and singing, she was deaf in one ear, which made it difficult for her to understand what others were saying. She was also said to have been a vegetarian, as well as a self-proclaimed nihilist.


On 18 July 1988, while on holiday with her son in Ibiza, Spain, Nico had a minor heart attack while riding a bicycle and hit her head as she fell. A passing taxi driver found her unconscious and had difficulty getting her admitted to local hospitals. She was incorrectly diagnosed as suffering from heat-exposure and died at eight o'clock that evening. X-rays later revealed a severe cerebral hemorrhage as the cause of death.[13]
Nico was buried in her mother's plot in Grunewald Forest Cemetery in Berlin, Germany. A few friends played a tape of "Mütterlein", a song from Desertshore, at her funeral.
Nico has influenced many musicians, including Siouxsie and the BansheesBauhausStevie NicksPatti SmithMorrissey,BjörkCoilJocelyn PookFabienne Shine (who covered "All Tomorrow's Parties"), Dead Can Dance as well as numerous contemporary goth bands
Late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith cited her as a major inspiration and was said to have listened to The Marble Index for months. Smith performed covers of some of her songs - most notably "Chelsea Girls" and "These Days", both of which he performed live at Satyricon in Portland, Oregon in October 1999.
Two of her songs from Chelsea Girl, "The Fairest of the Seasons" and "These Days", both written by Jackson Browne, are featured in Wes Anderson's film The Royal Tenenbaums.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a movie written by John Cameron Mitchell, mentions Nico as an influential artist in its song, "Midnight Radio". The song is written by Stephen Trask.Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon named his daughter 'Nico Blue' partly after Nico. Blind Melon's album Nico was released after Hoon's death.
The Cult recorded the song "Nico", which celebrates the life of the singer, on their 2001 album Beyond Good And Evil.
For her 2002 album, Kissin' TimeMarianne Faithfull recorded "A Song for Nico", co written with Dave Stewart.
Nico was portrayed by Christina Fulton in the 1991 biopic The Doors. She was later portrayed by Meredith Ostrom in the 2006 film, Factory Girl, which chronicles the life of fellow "Warhol Superstar", Edie Sedgwick.
Natasha Khan (Bat for Lashes) has quoted Nico as an influence in particular Desertshore(The opening song her her first albumFur and Gold, uses the name of the album in its lyrics). During 2007 she would start concerts with "Le Petit Chevalier" from that record.[14]
Singer-songwriter Patrick Wolf has been influenced by Nico, and released cover versions of "Afraid" and "Ari's Song" as b-sides on EPs.
Rock band Anberlin named one of their songs after her: "Dance, Dance Christa Päffgen" on their album "Never Take Friendship Personal". The song also makes reference to her death, and her drug use.
Austin based band Shearwater dedicated their album Palo Santo to the memory of Nico. The opening song ("La Dame Et La Licorne") depicts Nico's death at Ibiza, Spain.
Windsor for the Derby, another Austin based band, released an instrumental track in 2000 on their Young God Release "Difference and Repetition." A live version of the song can be found on a limited edition 7-inch.
Low, an American indie rock group from Duluth, Minnesota, has a song titled "Those Girls (Song For Nico)". It is included on the box set A Lifetime of Temporary Relief: 10 Years of B-Sides and Rarities, released in 2004.[15][16]
Two Nico tribute concerts took place in Europe in the autumn of 2008 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Nico's birth and the 20th anniversary of her death. On 11 October 2008, John CaleJames Dean Bradfield (of the Manic Street Preachers), Fyfe Dangerfield of the Guillemots and others appeared on stage at the Royal Festival Hall in London. On 17 October 2008 at the Volksbuehne in Berlin, Nico's ex-boyfriend Lutz Ulbrich presented another tribute concert, which featured Marianne RosenbergSoap & Skin, Marianne Enzensberger and James Young, the keyboardist from The Faction, Nico's last band. Nico's son, Ari Boulogne (sometimes called Ari Päffgen), made a brief appearance on stage at the close.

The father of her son is Alain Delon. She had an affair with him in 1962.
Was named "Nico" by a photographer on the Isle of Ibiza after his recently departed boyfriend, Nikos Papatakis.
Studied acting in 1960 at Lee Strasberg's Method School in New York, joining the same class as Marilyn Monroe.
Worked for Coco Chanel.
Liked to wear black clothes and motor bike boots.
Ranked #87 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock N Roll.
She taught herself to play the harmonium, with the help of Ornette Coleman, and used it as the primary instrument on her later albums. She was inspired to start writing her own lyrics after Jim Morrison suggested she record her dreams. Her songwriting method was to lie for hours in a darkened bath, surrounded by candles. She credits poets Rainer Maria Rilke and Sylvia Plath as her main influences.
Nico was played by Lorelei King in the stage play "All Tomorrow's Parties".
Is portrayed by Meredith Ostrom in Factory Girl (2006)
Lane from "Gilmore Girls" (2000) is a huge fan of her.
In 2006, it was planned to name a new place in Cologne "Christa-Päffgen-Platz", but reactionary political forces were against it.
She was fluent in German, English and French.
Longtime companion of film director Philippe Garrel; they lived together for about 10 years.
Met eighteen-year-old Jackson Browne in New York City. He later played guitar behind her onstage, and contributed to her first album, "Chelsea Girl".
Her album "Chelsea Girl" and her collaboration with 'The Velvet Underground' "The Velvet Underground & Nico" appear on Robert Dimery's list "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die".
Personal Quotes
"They also played the record of Bob Dylan's song, I'll Keep It With Mine, because I didn't have enough to sing otherwise. I had to stand there and sing along with it. I had to do this every night for a week. It was the most stupid concert I have ever done." [On one of her experiences with Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground]
(observing one of Andy Warhol's 1960s "happenings") It's like the Red Sea parting.
I don't think about the future, I can't think further than tomorrow morning -- at the most. I leave that to somebody else.

Mykie's Note:   
It started kinda backwards for me, my love affair with Nico that is. I wasn't aware of her, or The Velvet Underground till the late 1980's. Now I loved Lou Reed and through my affection for his work, Satellite Of Love, Walk On The Wild side, I discovered, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO.  FEMME FATALE ~
It was like a whole new world  had shown itself to me. I was a Little punk kid  in the 80's and tried to be bad ass, but  my musical taste where wide and vast. I was born in 1968 but should have been a teen in 1968, i would have  moved to New York, and  sought Andy Warhol out and well, I would have been one of the many Icon's Lou Reed croons about in Walk On The Wildside,  Lil' Joe, Holly, Candy and me. Well, getting my hands on that album  really change my life musically , artistically and  my own personal style. I look back on those days and see pictures and think, wow, I'm kinda working the street boy , hustler thing. Well it was a look. jean jacket, shinny shoes, french  tuxedo shirts. At my first listen  i was mesmerized by Nico's Voice, She really didn't have one, but then again, she did, its was about control and tone, and going where she wanted to take you. She Influenced me right then and there, her cool, laid back charm and  dry wit that came off as sarcasm. I mean she sounded like she was bored most of the time and i was just riveted. Then came discovering that there was more music and solo records, Nico's CHELSEA GIRLS, is a must hear before you die. Everyone must listen to it. Simply a work of art.  To this day at the age of 42, it is on heavy rotation on my ipod. And I'm always searching for the occasional gem that was never to be heard on the Internet. Her later music was way ahead of its time, Electronica music before it was even a genre.  So how does Nico inspire me thru makeup, She introduced me to the Factory and all the amazing icons that achieved there 15 minutes of fame via Andy Warhol's Factory.  The 1960's was a style decade like no other and we still pull idea's and  movements into our own culture to day. I would  encourage you all l to listen too her if you haven't yet.  She was truly a genius.  Mykie xoxo

Studio albums
1967The Velvet Underground & Nico
1967Chelsea Girl
1969The Marble Index
1974The End
1981Drama of Exile (released in two versions)
1985Camera Obscura


  1. I helped Nico score in Bury 2years or so before she died .I of course fell in love immediately THE Woman of the era in which she lived!

  2. Don't want to be anonymous as I'm happy to be associated with Nico! My name is Stuart or as Nico said it styuuuaaht! I've got goosbumps as I remember her voice.she was tired of heroin but of course needed to avoid being sick .as I did!glad to hear she was fighting to the end! RIP Nicoxox

  3. I have just installed iStripper, so I can watch the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.


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