Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chelsea Girl

 Christa Päffgen, better known as Nico, was a German model, actress, singer, composer, and Warhol superstar. Born October 13, 1938 in Nazi-controlled Germany, she left school at age 13 to become a model in Italy and France. Her 5'10" height and unique look made her a top model throughout the '50s, and she adopted the name Nico. In the late fifties, she began appearing in movies and on album art. She had a son in 1962, Ari. 
Despite being deaf in one ear, Nico began a music career in the U.S. 1965, when she recorded "I'm Not Saying"/"The Last Mile" and mingled with music's elite: Brian Jones, Jimmy Page, Andrew Loog Oldham, and Bob Dylan. Most importantly, though, she joined Andy Warhol's crowd. She recorded her debut album, Chelsea Girl (though she had little input writing- and production-wise). While hanging out with Warhol, she met members of the Velvet Underground, who took her into the group at Andy's insistence, and she sang on "Femme Fatale," "All Tomorrow's Parties," and "I'll Be Your Mirror," from the band's debut album. This was in 1967, when she was really swingin' - she dated both Brian Jones (Monterey Pop!) and Jim Morrison (who she called her "soul brother"and taught her to write songs). Nico recorded The Marble Index in 1969, and from then on she wrote original lyrics and music, and played the harmonium. She began making Philippe Garrel films in England, doing heroin, and made two more albums in the '70s. She made a "comeback" in '79 at CBGB and recorded two more albums in the '80s while touring. Trying to kick her heroin habit, she went into therapy and took up a healthy lifestyle. She died in 1988 due to a brain injury she got from a bicycle accident.
I was fascinated by Nico waaaay before I even had a clue who Edie Sedgwick was. Most Warhol Superstar enthusiasts like Edie best, but for some reason Nico's my favorite. Yes, I know - she wasn't typically pretty, and her voice is definitely not a common sound. She was just striking. It's almost the Bob Dylan factor, his voice is the topic of much discussion, but he's a definite icon. So what's with the lack of Nico-love? Don't believe what you saw/heard in the Doors movie.


(Photos from Nico and  Lucy Who.)

1 comment:

JessM said...


I know officially love this blog by proxy!
This was the best post I've read in a long time and the pictures are gorgeous.
The whole Chelsea Girl album is like the soundtrack of my life!