[[caption-width-right:266: Nico, circa 1970.]]

->''"And with [[Music/VelvetUnderground The Velvets]] come the blonde, bland, beautiful Nico, another cooler [[Creator/MarleneDietrich Dietrich]] for another cooler generation. Art [...] will never be the same again."''
-->-- '''John Wilcock''' of ''The East Village Other'''s review of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable show, quoted in the liner notes of ''Music/TheVelvetUndergroundAndNico'' CD.

Nico (aka Christa Paffgen) was a German singer, model, actress, and Warhol Superstar. Born in 1938, she started modeling when she was a teenager and later moved into acting, landing a minor blink and you miss it appearance in Creator/FedericoFellini's ''Film/LaDolceVita.'' Later still, she started working with Creator/AndyWarhol and Paul Morrissey on their experimental films, and it was Andy who inserted her into the Music/VelvetUnderground's lineup. The collaboration ended rather quickly because she and the band didn't really get along and the Velvets soon broke their ties with Warhol. Nevertheless, her work with the Velvets became legendary in the rock community, despite the fact that [[OneSceneWonder her involvement was limited: She only sang three songs and added backing vocals to another]] on ''Music/TheVelvetUndergroundAndNico.'' Additionally, she received no writing credits and was credited as [[GratuitousFrench "chanteuse."]]

Nico soon embarked on a solo career, using the opportunity to demonstrate the full range of her musical talent. Her debut album, ''Chelsea Girl,'' was met with praise, despite the fact that Nico wasn't really involved in the production of the album and was dissatisfied with it. It tends to be divisive, with some of her fans regarding it as a great album, and others regarding it as an unworthy recording that is unrepresentative of Nico's talents and has attracted an undue amount of attention. She started taking control of her music starting with her second album. Because of this, her sound evolved into something darker, more experimental, and more harmonium driven. Many of these albums are regarded in some circles as masterpieces. She also worked briefly with the French avant-garde film-maker Philippe Garrel (with whom she had a relationship), making a slew of obscure avant-garde films, ''Le lit de la vierge, La cicatrice interieure, Les hautes solitudes'' that are mirrors to her avant-garde music. They also starred her son Ari, the result of an affair with Creator/AlainDelon (who refused to acknowledge the boy as his son, [[ImplausibleDeniability despite him being the spitting image of Alain]]).

On July 18, 1988, Nico had a minor heart attack while riding a bicycle in Ibiza and hit her head as she fell. A passing taxi driver found her and had a hard time finding a hospital that would admit her. She was incorrectly diagnosed as suffering from heat exposure instead of having a severe cerebral hemorrhage, and died as a result. Her legacy still lives on, as part of the Velvets and as a respected solo artist. Musicians influenced by her include Music/SiouxsieAndTheBanshees, Music/BatForLashes, Music/PatrickWolf, Music/{{Bjork}}, Music/{{Bauhaus}}, Music/{{Coil}}, Music/ElliottSmith, and Music/DeadCanDance. Also, despite their CreativeDifferences, the Velvets liked her voice enough that whenever they performed "I'll Be Your Mirror" (a song where they fought with Nico to get the final result) live, they'd sing it in a German accent.

!! Solo Discography:

* ''Chelsea Girl'' (1967)
* ''The Marble Index'' (1969)
* ''Desertshore'' (1970)
* ''The End...'' (1974)
* ''Drama of Exile'' (1981)
* ''Camera Obscura'' (1985)

!! The following tropes are related to Nico:

* BaroquePop: ''Chelsea Girl.''
* TheChanteuse: How Warhol named Nico to avoid the band from thinking that he was actually adding a female front singer to the group. (Which he, in a sense, did.)
* CoverVersion: "The End" by Music/TheDoors on the album of the same name, "I'm Not Saying" by Music/GordonLightfoot as her first single, "I'm Waiting for the Man" by Music/VelvetUnderground and "'Heroes'" by Music/DavidBowie on ''Drama of Exile,'' and the pop standard "My Funny Valentine" on ''Camera Obscura.'' In a variation, some of the songs for ''Chelsea Girl'' were written specifically for her by her collaborators.
* CreepyMonotone
* DarkerAndEdgier: ''The Marble Index'' is a hell of a shift from ''Chelsea Girl.''
* DreamTeam: Nico was good at getting help from talented musicians on her albums. For starters, her first single "I'm Not Sayin'" / "The Last Mile" was produced and had guitar by [[Music/LedZeppelin Jimmy Page.]] ''Chelsea Girls'' features her old Velvet Underground mates Music/LouReed, Music/JohnCale, and Sterling Morrison along with Music/JacksonBrowne. ''The Marble Index'' and ''Desertshore'' had instrumentation entirely by Nico and Cale, ''The End'' kept Cale and added Music/RoxyMusic alumni Music/BrianEno and Phil Manzanera, ''Drama of Exile'' featured Music/IanDuryAndTheBlockheads saxophonist Davey Payne and Music/DavidBowie's keyboardist Andy Clark.
* DroneOfDread: ''The Marble Index'', ''Desertshore'', and ''The End...'' practically run on this trope.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Her first single, "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgdZFnZ6M0k I'm Not Saying]]" / "[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5lGAeLEkkw The Last Mile]]," is an unusually sunny affair compared to the Gothic gloom of her later works. Her first album also qualifies, since she had very little control over it (she had no control over the arrangements and the only song she had any writing input on was "It Was a Pleasure Then," which not coincidentally sounds more like her later material than the other songs on the album).
* EpicRocking: "It Was a Pleasure Then," the cover of "The End," and "Fearfully in Danger."
* {{Harmony}}: From ''The Marble Index'' onwards, Nico wrote and recorded her songs on an Indian harmonium, which is tuned to an entirely different scale than the Western instruments that make up the rest of the music. The effect can be more than a little unsettling.
* {{Jerkass}}: According to one account (published after her death, of course, so she could no longer challenge it) she was a virulent racist who once randomly attacked a black woman while drunk. Then again she also worked with non-white musicians (see the personnel list of ''Drama of Exile'' for example) so maybe she got better as she got older.
* KidsRock: "Le Petit Chevalier" from ''Desertshore'' is a one minute tune of Nico playing the harpsichord and her son Ari singing a few lines.
* LighterAndSofter: The more {{New Wave|Music}} influenced ''Drama of Exile'' coming right after the High Octane Nightmare Fuel concentrated ''The End...''
* NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly: Throughout Nico's career, she has touched BaroquePop, Proto-{{Goth}}, {{Synthpop}}, Folk, Classical, Rock, Experimental, and {{New Wave|Music}}.
* NewSoundAlbum: All of them!
* PerishingAltRockVoice: Yeah, she and pretty much everybody else in the Velvet Underground. Except maybe Mo Tucker.
* TheRashomon: Try to get a straight story of why there are two versions of ''Drama of Exile.'' Wiki/{{Wikipedia}} [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drama_of_Exile has more details.]]
* RougeAnglesOfSatin: It's "You Forg''e''t to Answer," not "You Forg''o''t to Answer." It doesn't help that the song title was misprinted on some editions of ''The End...''
* StageNames: Christa Paffgen was named "Nico" by Herbert Tobias, after his ex-boyfriend Nico Papatakis.
* TakeThat: Her performance of "Das Lied der Deutschen," which includes the infamous "Deutschland uber Alles" verse, was, according to WordOfGod, intended as one towards UsefulNotes/NaziGermany; she explicitly cited Music/JimiHendrix's performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as an inspiration and dedicated live performances to a communist. Not everyone managed to figure this out. The fact that she was apparently still pretty racist herself probably didn't help matters.
* TropesAreNotBad: Apparently ''Drama of Exile'' was [[MoneyDearBoy made for drug money.]] It's still a pretty good album.
* UnusualEuphemism: Warhol called Nico a "chanteuse" when he introduced her to the Music/VelvetUnderground so that the band wouldn't have the impression he was actually adding a new front singer to the group.