Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nico's top ten lovers

Born Christa Päffgen in Cologne, Germany in 1938, Nico moved with her mother to Berlin, 'a desert of bricks', aged seven. By 15, after a hard childhood, she had success as a model and went on assignment to Ibiza, a place she would love throughout her life. Renamed Nico and now a blonde (apparently at the behest of Ernest Hemingway), whilst in Rome she found herself acting in Fellini's La Dolce Vita.

By 1960, in New York, she was taking acting lessons in the same class as Marilyn Monroe. In 1962 she starred in the French film Strip-Tease, also singing the title track written by Serge Gainsbourg. In 1964 she met Brian Jones and had a record produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, with guitars by Jones and Jimmy Page. Back in New York she worked again as a model and had an affair and a child with Alain Delon. She met Bob Dylan in Paris and he gave her a song.

In New York she was introduced to Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground, singing three songs on their first album, The Velvet Underground and Nico. She left the band, though stayed in contact, performing live with Lou Reed and John Cale for Le Bataclan, Paris, in 1972, and having Cale produce and play instruments on several of her solo albums. Her post-Velvets solo debut, Chelsea Girls, with its pleasant folksy tinkerings, penned by ex-lovers Dylan, Cale, Reed and Browne, does nothing to prepare you for her next three albums: The Marble Index (1969), The Desert Shore (1970) (released together on CD as The Frozen Borderline a few years ago) and The End (1974). Armed with her trademark droning harmonium, haunting, deep, monotone vocals and a stark, chilly atmosphere, these albums make Leonard Cohen's records sound like party music.

Addicted to heroin then methadone and drifting from country to country, the next decade became her wilderness years. She would only release a couple more records, including Camera Obscura (1985), produced again by John Cale. She died in 1988, aged 49, of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling off her bike in Ibiza.

For someone who supposedly didn't like sex, Nico had an impressive series of famous lovers. Jim Morrison was her 'soul brother' who encouraged her to write her own songs. By all accounts she was not a very nice person; perhaps a Nazi sympathiser, perhaps a racist, certainly tortured and depressing but also iconic, beautiful and enigmatic.

1. Jim Morrison
2. Alain Delon
3. Lou Reed
4. Bob Dylan
5. Leonard Cohen
6. Brian Jones
7. Iggy Pop
8. Jackson Browne
9. Jeanne Moreau
10. Philippe Garrel


Caspar said...

Jeanne Moreau? Really?

Caspar said...

11. John Cooper Clarke

Caspar said...

Correction – Apparently Nico & JCC just lived in the same house.

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