Velvet Underground's Nico, A Chelsea Girl From Germany

By | April 17, 2021

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CIRCA 1967: Singer and entertainer Nico poses for a portrait session in circa 1967. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The model, singer and actress Nico is best known for her tenure with The Velvet Underground. Although her low German voice can be heard on some of the band's signature songs, including "Femme Fatale," he time with VU was actually fairly brief, one of many phases in the career of an itinerant performer and hipster it-girl who had a fan in Andy Warhol and carved out a niche in rock history with her own albums Chelsea Girl (1967), The Marble Index (1968) and others.

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Nico and the Velvet Underground. (Rolling Stone)

Nico began life in war-torn Berlin, ultimately becoming a high fashion model, an actress, an Andy Warhol Factory Girl, the lead singer of the Velvet Underground, and an influential solo artist. Often when a person can’t stick with a single occupation, it’s because he or she isn’t great at any of them. In the case of Nico, born Christa Päffgen, she excelled at all of them but became an exotic tool used by men to reach their own ends. When she took control of her own life, the physical and emotional toll of life in the fast lane weighed heavily on the beautiful but damaged woman.