Not much is known by Doors fans about Nico, in most biographies about Jim Morrison she appears in licentious escapade with Morrison cavorting naked on a parapet of ‘The Castle’ in L.A. In Oliver Stone’s The Doors she appears as a German accented amalgam of Andy Warhol’s Factory groupies, but if Nico’s and Jim Morrison’s words can be believed their relationship was much deeper. Nico died July 18, 1988.
Nico was born Christa Pafggen October 16, 1938, it’s hard to say how her family reacted to Hitler they moved to the country possible to avoid the Nazi’s but Nico’s father enlisted in the army and later died in a concentration camp. In post-war Berlin the 13 year old Nico went to work as a seamstress but due to her statuesque good looks was soon modeling lingerie, it was around this time she was discovered by photographer Herbert Tobias who gave her the selenium Nico, he also took her to Paris where her modeling career took off.
Her modeling career led to small television appearances which, in turn, led to roles in movies most notably Frederico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. In 1965 Nico’s music career began when she met Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones and she recorded the song I’m Not Sayin’ with a ‘B’ side of The Last Mile which was produced by Jimmy Page. Through Jones Nico met Andy Warhol who soon became enchanted with her and put her in The Velvet Underground, a then struggling rock band he had started to manage. Warhol put together a multimedia show called the Plastic Exploding Inevitable which featured Nico backed by the Velvet Underground. Warhol toured the show to Los Angeles where Nico probably met Jim Morrison for the first time.
Nico and Morrison were introduced at ‘The Castle’ a Los Angeles mansion of the 20’s which was being rented by Arthur Lee and Love and had become a hangout for the Los Angeles/Sunset Strip rock scene. They were introduced by Danny Fields (see video above) who thought they ‘would make a cute couple.’ Both Nico and Morrison had taken LSD and had an immediate attraction to one another, although it was by no means an ordinary meeting, Morrison and Nico, later that night did end up naked and walking on the parapet of ‘the castle.’
Nico’s and Morrison’s story doesn’t end there, Morrison encouraged her writing and soon Nico was calling Morrison her ‘soul brother’ and Morrison seemed to reciprocate this telling people he thought of her as a sister. Morrison eventually did return to Pam Courson, and Nico seems to have become obsessed with Morrison and realizing his preference for red-heads she dyed her hair red, and she did resemble Courson a bit. Though Nico dyed her hair Morrison didn’t pursue the relationship, but such was the obsession of Nico’s that she left her hair colored red even after Morrison’s death.
In the 70’s Nico alternated between a film career and a music career, starring in films directed by Phillipe Garrel. She also recorded the albums The Marble Index, The End, Drama of Exile, and Camera Obscura. As well as opening for bands like Tangerine Dream.
Nico died on July 18, 1988, while riding a bike she suffered a small heart attack while riding a bicycle and fell off injuring her head and causing a cerebral hemorrhage and died later that evening. She was 49.