Christa Päffgen, known as 'Nico', was born in war-torn Cologne in 1938. She was a singer, songwriter, actress and model, widely considered to be one of the most complex and creative forces of the twentieth century.
Nico is best known for her contributions to The Velvet Underground’s debut album, as well as being acquainted with Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Brian Jones, and Jim Morrison. Such associations however serve only a portion of Nico’s story, whose multi-faceted life and career was packed with artistic fearlessness and originality.
A deeply compelling individual, Nico’s musical career began while working with Andy Warhol, who had a close artistic relationship with The Velvet Underground. Nico contributed the vocals on four songs on the group’s seminal work, 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' in 1967. This album was labelled “the original art-rock record” by Clash Music and was released under the label Verve Records. At a similar time, Nico released her debut solo album 'Chelsea Girl'. The title of her first album pays tribute to Andy Warhol’s film 'Chelsea Girls' which was released in 1966 and which she also starred in.
Nico’s understanding of her own potential as a songwriter and artist really came to fruition after 1967, following a relationship with The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison and the purchase of a harmonium. It was at this time that she discovered her artistic independence. This led to her making music far more melancholic and darker in tone, heard in albums such as 'Marble Index', 'Desertshore', and 'The End'. Such uniquely gothic works juxtaposed what listeners had heard before from Nico and became emblematic of her solo career in the 1980s. Her devotion to artistic experimentation would inspire subsequent avant-garde artists such as Morrisey, The Cure, and Iggy Pop.
Nico toured extensively in the 1980s throughout Europe, the USA & Japan. In 1988, whilst on holiday in Ibiza, she suffered a bicycle accident and as a consequence, sadly died at the age of just 49.
Browse our unique collection of Nico photos and prints below