Nico and The Faction in Shibuya, Tokyo in 1986 performing, Das Lied Vom Einsamen Mädchen (The Song Of The Lonely Girl). Most of Nico’s songs were sung in English and although she was born Christa Päffgen in Cologne in 1938, I read that she sang the German songs with an English accent, never wanting to be known as ‘the German girl’. This German language song was written by Robert Gilbert and Werner Richard Heymann and comes from Nico’s last studio album, Camera Obscura, produced by John Cale and released in 1985.
The Faction was James Young on Piano, Graham Dowdell on percussion and Eric Ramsden on drums. Two years after this performance Nico died falling off her bicycle on holiday in Ibiza in 1988, banging her head and dying of a massive cerebral haemorrhage – she was 49 years old.
This scary dark persona was a thoughtful intelligent being with childlike mannerisms and frightening eyes. I was lucky enough to see Nico live twice in Stockholm in the eighties and possibly luckier still to have never met her. She was allegedly likely to make racist comments and liable to explode into unexpected physical acts of violence. She lived out all the clichés of typical junkie selfishness, untrustworthy, unreliable and erratic. Ruled by caprice constantly contemplating her own destruction, she was ready at any moment to follow it through to the bitter end. But she was equally unique, her voice was powered by the grinding machinery in the mines of hell, her darkness born out of her destroyed beauty – her albums stand as masterful pieces of art.
Included here is a somehow funny and disturbing but interesting interview with Nico from New Zealand, in 1985.