Born Christa Paffgen in Germany, she survived the traumatic bombings of the war and its chaotic aftermath. She became a child model, eventually learning to speak several languages.
After a couple small films (including an American film with the male "prima donna" opera tenor Mario Lanza!!) she appeared briefly more or less as herself in Fellini's masterpiece "La Dolce Vita" (1960), a film which might have been an omen for her difficult, edgy and glitzy life . She also studied at Lee Strasberg's famous "Actors' Studio" in New York.
She recorded extensively with the Velvet Underground, and with Lou Reed seperately as well as her own individual work. Bob Dylan wrote a song for her.
She had a child by the French film star Alain Delon in 1962 and later went on to work in the fast-lane world of Andy Warhol's Factory. She also enjoyed a comeback in the early 1980's. But in some of the reviews of her later concerts she was described as a "freak act". A documentary Nico Icon (1995) might shed some light on this negative view, but I have not seen it as yet. The reviews seem to highlight a state of ennui in her psychological make-up, but documentarians and biographers.rarely accentuate the positive part of anyone's life.
Nico's life was complicated by a long-term heroin addiction. She died from a head injury after a bicycle fall in Ibzia, Spain which resulted in a brain hemmorage.
But that haunting vocal quality endures as I think these two clips attest.