She’ll be your mirror: Who was the real Nico?

On 17 July 1988, the German singer-songwriter Nico was in Ibiza suffering from a bad headache. Despite the blistering heat, she decided to cycle into town in search of cannabis, hoping it would relieve the pain, but as she rode she suffered the brain haemorrhage that killed her. In her 49 years, she’d lived many lifetimes. She had been a model for Coco Chanel in the 1950s, acted for Fellini, sung with The Velvet Underground, and become a raw and uncompromising solo artist. Yet when the news reached the papers, their focus was elsewhere. The headline in the Berliner Zeitung read: “Nico: Death of a Star from Berlin Reveals the Secret Love Drama of Alain Delon.”

Even in death, Nico’s story was framed in the context of one of the many famous men who drifted through her life. Delon was far from alone: Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop all fell for the statuesque beauty at one time or another, but her story is not their story. A new biography, You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone, named for a line in her 1970 track “Afraid”, makes clear what a driven, creative and fearlessly original artist she was. “This woman had such an interesting life,” says her biographer, Jennifer Otter Bickerdike. “I set out to write this book because I wanted to know more about her, and because I wanted to know what was actually true and what was myth, because there is so much mythology around her.”

Continue reading at The Independent.