Here’s a tribute to—-and photo gallery of—-model, actress, musician, Warhol Superstar and 60’s icon Nico.
Many celebrities try to do the triple threat routine nowadays as actors, musicians, dancers, or perhaps tv show hosts all at the same time. There are also those who try their luck at acting, do a little modeling, and dabble in the arts. But before all those actors started singing and dancing on screen, there was a beautiful, statuesque, and talented lady from the 60’s who was seemingly capable of conquering any endeavor she chose—-Nico.
Born Christa Paffgen in Cologne, Germany on October 16, 1938, Nico was a fashion model, singer-songwriter, composer, musician, and actress who primarily rose to fame as one of Andy Warhol’s Superstars.
She was offered modeling jobs while still working as a salesperson for a department store in Berlin.At 16 she was discovered by photographer Herbert Tobias, who christened her with the name ’Nico’ after his ex-boyfried, filmmaker Nikos Papatakis.
Soon enough she moved to Paris and started modeling for Vogue, Elle, and other fashion magazines.
Nico took acting classes in New York in 1960. She landed jobs in tv commercials, which eventually led to her being casted in several films, including La Temptesta, (1958), La Dolce Vita, (1959) and Strip-Tease, (1963), in which she held the leading role.
Nico met Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones in 1965 and recorded her first single, “I’m Not Sayin.” She met Bob Dylan in Paris that summer, who played the song ”I’ll Keep It with Mine” for her. Nico recorded the same song as part of Chelsea Girl, her first album which was released in 1967. Incidentally, Chelsea Girls is the title of one of Andy Warhol’s experimental films, where Nico plays herself.
When Andy Warhol began managing New-York based rock band The Velvet Underground, he suggested for Nico to become their ’chanteuse.’ Both parties agreed and Nico lent her voice to four of the songs in the band’s debut release, The Velvet Underground & Nico.
After Chelsea Girl, Nico recorded five more albums: The Marble Index, Desertshore, The End, Drama of Exile, and Camera Obscura. These solo albums were released from 1969 through 1985.
Nico had an array of well-known lovers, some of which were Bob Dylan, Jim Morrisson, Iggy Pop, Jackson Browne, and French-Swiss actor Alain Delon, who fathered her only son, Ari. She lived like a nomad, relocating to different cities in Europe and in America throughout her lifetime.
On this same day in 1988, while on holiday with his son Ari in Ibiza, Nico had a minor heart attack while riding a bicycle. She hit her head and died from a cerebral hemorrhage.
With a wandering streak and a string of opportunities at her beck and call, Nico was never remembered as a pleasant, accommodating person but rather spoiled, somewhat arrogant and a racist. Nonetheless, she was extremely talented, the first ’superstar’ who did the model-actress-musician stint and breezed through it in flying colors, and with effortless style.
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