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‘The Inner Scar’: Velvet Underground singer Nico stars in obscure, pretentious French art film, 1972
11.19.2015
09:53 am

Topics:
Drugs
Movies
Music

Tags:
Nico
Philippe Garrel


 
Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico and French avant-garde film director Philippe Garrel had a decade long romantic relationship between 1969 and 1979. Garrel, acclaimed in his youth as being a sort of cinematic Rimbaud, was much admired by Jean-Luc Godard, but is almost completely unknown in the English-speaking world. Nico appeared in seven of his films and sometimes gave him music for them that has not been heard elsewhere. Stills from Garrel’s films appeared on the covers of her Desertshore and The End albums, which show how interested she was in promoting his work. Garrel made his own clothes at the time and began dressing Nico, encouraging her to dye her hair crimson and cut her bangs. Their most significant and fully-realized collaboration was La Cicatrice Intérieure (or “The Inner Scar”), made in 1972 when Garrel was only 22.

During their relationship, the pair became hardcore heroin addicts, resorting to petty thievery from friends and acquaintances to support their habits. According to Richard Witts’ biography, Nico: The Life & Lies of an Icon, their Paris apartment was a “garret” that lacked gas, electricity, hot water, furniture and housed a gargantuan mountain of cigarette butts. The entire apartment was covered in two coats of glossy black enamel paint. Their bed, apparently, was Garrel’s overcoat.
 

 
To call Philippe Garrel’s films “tedious” and “self-indulgent” is a bit of an understatement. They’re preposterously tedious and self-indulgent—I believe the Monty Python “French Subtitled Film” sketch was directly inspired by Garrel’s work—but no more so than Matthew Barney’s movies, if you ask me.  About half of her Desertshore album (and one otherwise unreleased song, the mind-blowing “König,” see below) is used as the film’s soundtrack. (This again seems worth comparing to Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9, a collaboration with his wife, Bjork, herself a big Nico fan.)
 

 
To some, Garrel, who is still making films today, is an underrated visionary genius whose work must be seen in the cinema to be fully appreciated (for years the director refused to release his films on DVD). To them he is revered as some cinephiles worship John Cassavetes. To others, his films (the ones made during his relationship with Nico at least) look like what two junkies with a camera and the financial backing of a French heiress might get up to…
 

 
La Cicatrice Intérieure‘s dialogue, mostly made up right before they’d shoot it, by Nico, consists of existential bitching, basically, as the pair walk around in barren, yet gorgeous landscapes shot in Sinai, Death Valley and Iceland. Garrel uses LONG simple linear tracking shots with minimal editing during scenes. Visually, the film is quite stunning—again think Matthew Barney—but the director forbade subtitles so unless you speak French and German, at a few places you’re bound to be confused. (A Japanese DVD with subtitles popped up in 2005).
 

 
Nico does most of the speaking in La Cicatrice Intérieure, moaning throughout the film in her humorless, stentorian voice, at times coming off like some sort of prophetess of doom. As the Time Out reviewer said of the film when it was released in 1972: “You need a bloody big spliff to enjoy this. A miserable couple who you would not wish to meet at a party [Garrel, Nico] are joined by a naked weirdo [Pierre Clémenti, best-known for his role as the gangster lover of Catherine Deneuve’s prostitute in Buñuel’s Belle de jour] with a bow and arrow and a desire to set everything on fire. That’s about it, frankly, unless I fell asleep, which is likely.”

Nico described the film like so:

“[It’s] an important film, a great film. It concerns the fragility of life. The film treats the story of a lunatic who starts to kill all of his sheep. It is not clear if he is a shepherd or a prince. He has no identity until I show up [of course!]. I am a queen on a journey. A queen finds a kingdom wherever she goes. There are more songs than dialogue in the film which I think is a good idea [of course!].

In the case of La Cicatrice Intérieure, she’s probably right about that, and although the film does have its perplexing, often gorgeous, merits, as our own Marc Campbell put it, La Cicatrice Intérieure is “a gorgeous looking folly that, despite its abundant tracking shots, is so inert it makes L’Avventura look like The Fast And The Furious.” La Cicatrice Intérieure is now in the public domain and there is even an HD version of it floating around on the torrent trackers that elevates the viewing experience quite a bit and is worth finding (Hint, looky here). Yet another fine example of an absolutely M.I.A. film that you can see today without even getting up from your seat. La Cicatrice Intérieure was once the litmus test for obscure, nearly impossible to see movies, but there’s even a quite good version of the film on YouTube (see last video).
 

 
“My Only Child” and “All That Is My Own” are heard in the following two sequences. The child is Nico’s son, Ari Boulogne. Note how the camera moves constantly.
 

 
Continues after la jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Intimate photos of Andy Warhol’s Factory Superstars, the Velvet Underground and Nico
09.30.2015
12:51 pm

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Andy Warhol
Velvet Underground
Nico
Billy Name


1966
 
I wonder how many people in the world had a romance with Andy Warhol and also combined that with being a significant influence on Warhol’s work. You make your list and I’ll make mine, but we shouldn’t discount the possibility that that list will start and end with Billy Name. Born William Linich, Jr., Name was a prominent lighting designer in NYC and even won an Obie for his lighting around the time he met Warhol, which was in 1959.

He had a brief romance with Warhol which evolved into a long-lasting friendship and collaboration. Name was selected to be the archivist for the Factory. At one point Warhol handed him a camera and said, “Here, Billy, you do the stills photography,” and Name’s identity as a photographer was born. By that time, Name had already gone ahead and “silverized” a dilapidated hat factory on East 47th Street, transforming it into one of the most iconic places of the late 1960s. In The Warhol Diaries, Warhol said of Name that he “had a manner that inspired confidence. He gave the impression of being generally creative, he dabbled in lights and papers and artists materials. ... I picked up a lot from Billy.”

Today at the Serena Morton II gallery at 345 Ladbroke Grove in London starts an exhibition of Name’s Warhol-era photos called “Billy Name: The Silver Age” that runs for roughly three weeks. There is a lovely associated book with the same title that came out last year from Reel Art Press, and if you want to hear some eye-popping blurbs, check these two out: Gerard Malanga said that “Billy’s book will go down in history as the best book about Warhol,” whereas Warhol himself said, “Billy’s photos were the only thing that ever came close to capturing the feel of the 1960s Silver Factory.”

The Guardian recently interviewed Name, now 75, at the Mid-Regional Hospital in his hometown of Poughkeepsie (where I attended college, as it happens) for “extreme dehydration” along with a host of other ailments. All of us at DM wish him a speedy recovery.

All of the pictures in this post you can see in a larger version by clicking on them.
 

Warhol using a pay phone at the 1964 World’s Fair
 

Nico, 1967
 

Warhol in the original Factory studio, 1964
 

VU, 1967
 
A bunch more masterful Billy Name shots after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pre-Velvet Underground Nico in Spanish brandy advertisements, 1964
09.14.2015
02:10 pm

Topics:
Advertising

Tags:
Andy Warhol
Velvet Underground
Nico


 
These Centenario Terry brandy ad, made for Spanish TV, dates back to 1964 and feature a young and impossibly beautiful Christa Päffgen who would soon go on to join the Velvet Underground at the behest of Andy Warhol.

Years later we have this entry from Andy Warhol’s Diary on Monday October 6th, 1980:

“Went to C.Z. Guest’s for drinks. A guy there told me, “We have someone in common.” He said that his family owned all the brandy and sherry in Spain and that in the sixties Nico was the girl in all their advertisements in all the posters and subways and magazines, that she was famous all over Spain. He wanted to know where this beautiful girl was now and I said that it was a whole other person, that he’d never believe it, that she was fat and a heroin addict. He wanted to see her and I said that if she was still playing at the Squat Theatre we could go see her.”

There used to be a few more of these ads on YouTube, but most seemed to have vanished.
 

 
The actor here, Hans Meyer was apparently closely associated with this particular brand of cognac.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Amazing ‘Mod Wedding’ with Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground & Nico, 1966
06.15.2015
12:59 pm

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Andy Warhol
Velvet Underground
Nico


 
Picture it: You’re a steady couple in Detroit, it’s the mid-‘60s and you’re hip sort of people, and you get a chance for Andy Warhol, Nico, and the Velvet Underground to participate in your nuptials, making it the world’s first-ever “mod wedding.” What could be better?

This actually happened. The date of the wedding was November 20, 1966, and it was one of the concluding events of a three-day festival held in Detroit called the Carnaby Street Fun Festival, at which the Velvet Underground and the Yardbirds played. The lucky couple were named Gary Norris and Randi Rossi.

In 2011 some ephemera from this event I would love to get a look at were auctioned off at Christie’s, including a five-page “press release” called Pop Goes the Wedding, and an invitation to, ahem, “The Nation’s First Mod Wedding to Unite Two Typical Mod Teenagers in the Bonds of Holy Matrimony.”

In a bio of Al Abrams, the noted promoter who dreamt up the Carnaby Street Fun Fair as well as the idea of having a wedding of this type, it states that Norris and Rossi were not the first couple selected for the event: “The pair earned the chance to exchange their vows in the highly publicized ceremony after the original couple, who had won the wedding competition on the popular Detroit radio station WKNR, had to withdraw.“

Here’s Steven Watson in Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties discussing how the event came about:
 

Perhaps the most conspicuous of [the band’s] Sixties events was a Detroit fair called the Carnaby Street Fun Festival. … As a centerpiece, a Motown publicist [almost certainly Abrams] thought up the idea of a Mod Wedding. Since Andy Warhol was “the father of Pop Art,” he became the perfect choice to play the father of the bride. A columnist for The Detroit News dug up a couple to get married—a twenty-five-year-old clothing salesman and his nineteen-year-old, unemployed go-go dancer girlfriend. While Gary Norris and Randi Rossi were married before a crowd of forty-five hundred, the Velvet Underground played “Here Comes the Bride,” and a roadie pounded on a car with a sledgehammer. After the ceremony Andy signed some Campbell’s Soup cans and threw them into the crowd, and he and the bride cut the six-foot cake with a sword. “It would be in better taste if you had those people throwing up on each other,” Dick Clark told the event’s organizer.

 

 
Reaction at the time had more than its share of eye-rolling disgust. This account by Linda La Marre appeared in The Detroit News the next day; in addition to being pretty well written, it achieves a mocking, derisive tone I’ve seldom encountered in a news story before. The article can be found in Clinton Heylin’s essential compendium All Yesterdays’ Parties: The Velvet Underground in Print, 1966-1971.
 

“Mother’s Mod Lament”

by Linda La Marre

The Detroit News, November 21, 1966

Holy matrimony was replaced by unholy pandemonium in what was billed as a wedding yesterday at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

It was a marriage in the Mod Tradition. The country’s first. And let’s hope it’s not what’s happening, baby.

Wearing a white minigown, eight inches over her knees and white, thigh-high boots, Randy Rossi, 18, became the bride of clothing salesman Gary Norris, 25, amid a melange of simultaneous “happenings.”

Andy Warhol, of soup can painting fame and the “father of Pop art,” arrived from New York to give away the bride. With him came his rock & roll group, the Velvet Underground, vocalist Nico, and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Warhol’s gaudy lighting effects.

Some 4,500 shaggy-haired wedding guests swarmed the arena for the prenuptial rituals. Electronic devices screamed, guitars and drums throbbed and a fiddle added to the din as ppurple and orange lights splashed dots and squares across the stage.

“Hey, we’re really witnessing something, it’s history, history!” a young girl shouted.

Huddled on the sidelines were the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Rossi of Mt. Clemens, the bridegroom’s mother, Mrs. Thelma Norris, of Taylor, his sister and brother-in-law, the Robert Wionceks, of Dearborn.

“It’s not the kind of wedding we had planned for our daughter,” Mrs. Rossi said, as eerie screeches emitted from the stage.

“He’s old enough to know his own mind,” Mrs. Norris added, while Nico, clad in a lavender pantsuit, cupped the mike in both hands and began moaning some song.

After an eternity of noise, a black Rolls-Royce with the bridal couple slowly backed into the arena. The pair wisely chose to stay inside the car a few moments.

Warhol’s psychedelic sounds, which seek to create the same illusion as mind-expanding drugs, succeeded.

Gerard [Malanga], the whip dancer, slithered and spun across the darkened stage. Another member of the cast hopped atop a wrecked DeSoto, bashing it with a sledge hammer.

“If I take to love, will I find you gone,” groaned Nico. Warhol ascended the platform, paint bucket and catsup bottles in hand. Contents of both containers were carefully applied to a girl wearing a white paper dress throughout the proceedings.

The bride smiled as she marched up the platform steps. The bridegroom wore a gray checked, Beatle-type suit, black boots, green and white flowered tie. He looked sober.

The couple volunteered for the Mod wedding, which concluded the three-day Carnaby Street Fun Festival. Their reward, a free honeymoon in New York and screen test with Warhol.

After giving away the bride Warhol sat serenely upon a box of tomato soup, autographing cans. A color film of Nico’s face flickered on and off the back curtains as she read a few appropriate, but indistinguishable sentences from a yellow book.

Another member of the cast paraded with a five-foot Baby Ruth candy bar balloon, Warhol’s gift to the newlyweds.

 
My favorite bit in there is La Marre’s description of the music: “Nico, clad in a lavender pantsuit, cupped the mike in both hands and began moaning some song…..”

This online forum on VU supplies a detail that nobody else I consulted had. La Marre reports that Warhol gave the bride away, but on this forum, a user named “taxine” asserts that Nico officiated the wedding. I’m not sure if she did or didn’t, but the photo taxine supplied seems to bear it out. The quality could be a little better, but this sure as heckfire looks to me like Warhol giving the bride away while Nico officiates:
 

 
Rob Jovanovic’s Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground furnishes an illuminating quotation from Moe Tucker that clarifies the identity of the man with the sledgehammer: “That was lunacy. ... We were playing but [Paul] Cézanne was recruited to beat the hell out of a car with a sledge hammer, during the ceremony and during our set. I don’t know what the significance was!”

Jovanovic suggests that the Yardbirds also played the wedding and covered “I’m Waiting for the Man.” The Yardbirds did play all three days of the Carnaby Street Fun Festival, but nobody else mentions the detail of the Yardbirds playing the wedding—I think what actually happened is that the Yardbirds played the festival and during at least one of their sets (six sets, two per day) they played “I’m Waiting for the Man,” but they weren’t playing the wedding and didn’t cover the song at the wedding per se. At least that’s the impression this chronology gives.

Here are a few more pics, including a great action shot of Cézanne destroying the car with a sledgehammer.
 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Incandescent Innocent: Dean and Britta score Andy Warhol’s screen tests


 
At the peak of his fame and influence, from 1964 to 1966, Andy Warhol created somewhere around 500 (the number 472 popped up in my research, as seen below) so-called “screen tests.” Every screen test was a single close-up take of an individual in front of the camera lasting a little shy of three minutes—the idea was that Warhol would run them at two-thirds speed, which resulted in movies about four minutes long each. The short movies that resulted had a consistency of aesthetic feel and featured a wide variety of people, who can be roughly classified into three groups: Factory mainstays, famous people, and un-famous people. Warhol said that he did screen tests for anyone who possessed “star potential.”

As Geralyn Huxley, curator of film and video at the Andy Warhol Museum, wryly points out, “none of them appear to have been used for the purpose of actually testing or auditioning prospective actors.” Some notable people who consented to undergo the Warhol screen test treatment are John Ashbery, Marcel Duchamp, Cass Elliott, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Yoko Ono, Salvador Dalí, Donovan, and Susan Sontag.
 

 
In 2008 the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh approached Dean and Britta to “create soundtracks” for 13 of the screen tests and perform them on stage. As members of Luna, a band that had toured with the Velvet Underground in 1993, Dean and Britta (who are doing kind of a version of Lou and Nico anyway, eh?) were a highly apropos choice for the project. In 2010 it became an album called 13 Most Beautiful… Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests (there is also a DVD).

The track titles on the album are very redolent of the Factory as well as the general VU scene: “Silver Factory Theme,” “Teenage Lightning (And Lonely Highways),” “Incandescent Innocent,” and “Knives From Bavaria.” In addition to much original Luna-esque music of the gorgeous and dreamy variety, the album featured covers of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine” and VU’s “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore.”
 

 
In 2012 LuxeCrush asked Dean and Britta about the project:
 

LuxeCrush: How did this “13 Most Beautiful…” project, pairing your music with Andy Warhol stills, come about? I love the interdisciplinary film/music idea!

Wareham: We were approached by Ben Harrison at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; he described the hundreds of films that the Museum had access to (Warhol made 472 Screen Tests) and asked could we pick thirteen of them and create soundtracks to perform live on stage.

LuxeCrush: What is your favorite Warhol art work, moment or saying? And did either of you ever get to meet Andy?

Wareham: Neither of us ever met Andy. But I love watching him answering interview questions. Where most artists are trained to give long-winded theoretical explanations of why they paint a particular way, he would just say “because it’s easy.” Warhol never ceases to amaze me. We are used to seeing the same famous images again and again (Marilyn, Coke Bottles, soup cans, etc.), but there is so much more, from his early drawings for department stores to his late paintings, paintings for children, TV shows, films. He had a way of turning things upside down.

 
Lots of lovely and stirring videos of Dean & Britta scoring the screen tests after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico have a Velvet Underground reunion on French TV, 1972
04.01.2015
05:25 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground
Nico
John Cale
Lour Reed


 
Although I’ve posted about this show in the past, there was never a full version of it on YouTube in decent quality that I could embed, just bits and bobs, but this morning, looking for something else entirely I came across it and wanted to share on the blog. In 1972, Velvet Underground alumni Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico reunited before the cameras of the POP 2 TV program at Le Bataclan, a well-known—and very intimate—Parisian music venue. It was Cale’s gig originally and he invited Reed and Nico to join him. Reed, who hated rehearsing, spent two days with Cale working out what they were going to do. According to Victor Bockris’ Reed biography Transformer, rock critic Richard Robinson videotaped these rehearsals, which took place in London.
 

 
Both the TV broadcast and just the audio from the show and the soundcheck have been heavily bootlegged over the decades. A legit CD release happened a few years ago, but it still sounds like a bootleg. A high quality video turned up on various torrent trackers and bootleg blogs after a rebroadcast on French TV a few years back. It’s fairly easy to find. Now if only some of the outtakes from the Le Bataclan filming would slip out—they did “Black Angel’s Death Song” that night which I’d dearly love to see—not to mention what Richard Robinson is alleged to have!
 

 
This is Reed coming off his first solo record and just a few months before he recorded “Walk on the Wild Side” with David Bowie and Mick Ronson and took on a totally different public—and we can presume, private—persona. This is “Long Island Lou” seen just before Reed’s druggy bisexual alter-ego showed up. Cale is heard doing “Ghost Story” from his Vintage Violence album and Nico looks stunning and happy here singing “Femme Fatale.” It’s before the damage of her drug addiction took its toll on her looks.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pre-Velvet Underground Nico with a young Jimmy Page and Brian Jones
12.15.2014
03:32 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Jimmy Page
Nico
Brian Jones


 
Before she became the Teutonic ice queen chanteuse of the Velvet Underground, Nico, via her then boyfriend Rolling Stone Brian Jones, was introduced to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and signed to his Immediate Records label, where a young Jimmy Page was employed as house producer, session musician and A&R scout. (Page’s brief career as a session musician saw him adding his distinctive guitar sounds to recordings by The Who, The Kinks, PJ Proby, Lulu, Jackie DeShannon, Van Morrison and Them, Burt Bacharach, French singer Johnny Hallyday, Marianne Faithfull, Vashti Bunyan, Donovan and many others. It’s amusing to think of Jimmy Page being a part of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” single, but there he was. There are several CD compilations of Page’s early session work, probably the best is Hip Young Guitar Slinger.)

Page produced and played on Nico’s 1965 single for Immediate, a cover of Canadian folkie Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Sayin’ ” which was backed by “The Last Mile,” a song composed by Page and Oldham. Jimmy Page plays a six-string in the song, while Brian Jones plays a twelve-string guitar.

A promotional film for “I’m Not Sayin’” was shot at the site of London’s West India Docks (now Canary Wharf) by Peter Whitehead.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘I have come to die with you’: Nico performs ‘Genghis Khan’ on French TV, 1979
07.18.2014
12:35 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Nico


 
On June 27, 1979, accompanied only by her harmonium, Nico performed a stunning “Genghis Khan,” a typically atmospheric number that would later appear on her 1981 Drama of Exile album, on French television.

I have come to lie with you
I have come to die with you
On your padded shoulder
And your golden chest
In a wilderness of glass we rest
And all the flowers they are our words
And my chances follow dances Into a storm afraid
A sweet and bitter rest he gets
A sweet and bitter rest he gets
I have come to lie with you
I have come to die with you.

They don’t write ‘em like that anymore, do they?

The golf claps from the audience at the end speak volumes! There are so few professionally “in studio” performances by her. This one is a bleak gem.

Nico, real name Christa Päffgen, died on this day in 1988 at the age of 48. More or less off heroin at that point, but still struggling with it, she was living with her son Ari Boulogne in Ibiza. One very hot day she decided to take her bike into town to buy some marijuana, but had a heart attack along the way, hitting her head as she fell and causing a severe cerebral hemorrhage. A cabdriver found her but she was mistakenly diagnosed as suffering from heat exposure at the hospital and died later that evening.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Lou Reed, Nico and John Cale do Velvet Underground mini-reunion on French TV, 1972
04.24.2014
04:49 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Lou Reed
Velvet Underground
Nico
John Cale


 
In 1972, Velvet Underground alumni Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico reunited before the cameras of the POP2 TV program at Le Bataclan, a well-known—and very intimate—Paris venue. It was Cale’s gig originally and he invited Reed and Nico to join him. Reed, who hated rehearsing, spent two days with Cale working out what they were going to do. According to Victor Bockris’ Lou Reed biography Transformer, rock critic Richard Robinson videotaped these rehearsals, which took place in London.

Both the videotape and the audio from this show have been heavily bootlegged over the years. A legit CD release happened a few years ago, but it still sounds like a bootleg. A high quality video turned up on various torrent trackers and bootleg blogs after a rebroadcast on French TV. It’s fairly easy to find. Now if only some of the outtakes from the Le Bataclan filming (if there were any) would slip out—they did “Black Angel’s Death Song” which I’d dearly love to see—not to mention what Richard Robinson might have (There is an audio only recording of the rehearsals attributed to Robinson’s tapes already making the rounds on bootleg torrent trackers.)

This is Reed coming off his first solo record (which had not even been released yet) and just a few months before he recorded “Walk on the Wild Side” with David Bowie and took on a totally different public—and we can presume, private—persona. This is “Long Island Lou” last seen just before Reed’s druggy bisexual alter-ego showed up and took his place. Cale does the lush “Ghost Story” from his then new Vintage Violence album and Nico looks stunning and happy here singing “Femme Fatale.” It’s before the damage of her drug addiction took its toll on her looks.

I will direct you here for the full version, but I can’t embed the file.

One thing worth pointing out here is that during “Berlin” you can see Nico’s face as Reed sings a song which he told her was about her. She might even be hearing it for the first time.
 

 
Here’s a version (oddly in color, the only one on YouTube, the rest are all B&W) of Reed and Cale performing a languid, stoned and thoroughly unplugged “I’m Waiting For The Man”:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When John Waters met Nico
04.09.2013
04:58 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
John Waters
Nico


 
When Graham Russell interviewed John Waters for Nude, he asked the Pope of Trash about meeting Nico.

Via Bitterness Personified:

Graham Russell: Before you go, tell me about the time you met Nico.

John Waters: Nico ... I met her when she played in Baltimore. Well, (before that) I saw her play with The Velvet Underground at The Dom on St Marks Place(in New York) with The Exploding Plastic Inevitable. I have the poster still. But I met her much later when she had her solo career, which I loved. She was a total heroin addict. Did you ever read that book The End? (The 1992 book is a jaundiced and not exactly objective account by her former keyboardist James Young). It’s so hilarious. It was that – although it wasn’t that, that was later when she was touring England.

She played at this disco, and I went. And people went, but not a lot, it wasn’t full. And she was heavy and dressed all in black with reddish dark hair, and she did her (makes guttural moaning noise). Afterwards I said, “It’s nice to meet you, I wish you’d play at my funeral.” and she said (mimics doom-laden Germanic voice), “When are you going to die?” I told her, “You should have played at The Peoples Temple; you would’ve been great when everyone was killing themselves!” Then she said, “Where can I get some heroin?” I said, “I don’t know.” I don’t take heroin, so I don’t know. But even if I did, I wasn’t copping for Nico!

“But that was basically it. But I’ll always remember her, and I love Nico. I remember when she died, when she fell off the bicycle (in 1988). Every summer my friend Dennis and I, we play Nico music on the day she died (18 July). I saw that documentary Nico-Icon (Susanne Ofteringer, 1995), which was great. It’s a shame: she was mad about being pretty! She was sick of being pretty, being a model. And I remember her when she was in La Dolce Vita (1960), even before.

Nico ... great singer; and even the Velvet Underground hated having her. And her music can really get on your nerves. You have to be in the mood. Sometimes it gets on my nerves. You have to be in the mood to listen to it. To put on a whole day of Nico can be ... my favorite song of Nico ever, and I only have it on a tape that someone made, it’s a bootleg. Did you ever hear her sing “New York, New York”? It’s great! I wish she’d done a whole album of show tunes! Like “Hello Dolly” or “The Sound of Music”! (Mimics Nico singing “Hello Dolly”).

Below, Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman describes his experience with Nico when he put out The Marble Index and Nico sings “Janitor of Lunacy” on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
In her vagabond shoes: Nico sings ‘New York, New York’
04.03.2013
04:43 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Nico
Squat Theater


 
It isn’t until halfway through this experimental film clip that we encounter the formidable Nico face to face. It’s 1982 and she’s well into the heroin addiction that made her performances unpredictable and often sad affairs. In this case though, the chanteuse, the song and the smack seem to meld into something quite perfect in its world-weary and haunting way.

The clip is from Mr. Dead And Mrs. Free, a production of Chelsea’s store-front performance space The Squat Theater. Many artists and musicians, from Andy Warhol to Sun Ra and The Lounge Lizards, found the Squat a friendly environment for their experiments.

In his review of the play, critic David Sterritt wrote:

Their most recent show, Mr. Dead And Mrs. Free, also includes long film sequences, which eventually give way to a bizarre cabaret act, a battlefield scene, and an inscrutable sculpture in the shape of a giant baby with TV sets for eyes.

For many of us who tramped through the city’s darker nights of the soul, the lyrics in “New York, New York” cut a little deeper. Nico brings the kind of spin to the tune that speaks to the mad side of Manhattan.

“These vagabond shoes
They are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘You Forget to Answer’: Nico sings about Jim Morrison on French TV, 1972
03.27.2013
03:34 pm

Topics:
Drugs
Music

Tags:
Nico
Jim Morrison
Danny Fields


 
In one of her very few televised appearances, Nico performs “You Forget to Answer” on French TV’s POP2 program in 1972. The songs’s cryptic lyrics convey the despair the avant garde ice queen felt over hearing of the death of her former lover Jim Morrison and how she was unable to reach him by phone on the day he died. It would eventually appear on her 1974 album The End, which takes its title, of course, from her infamously doomy cover of the already infamously doomy Doors’ original.

Talk about low budget, it looks like they’ve got her singing in a rec room or something, here, but still, once she gets started, it’s like she blots outs everything else and pulls this remarkable, spine-tingling black musical shadow from deep within her desolate junkie soul.

In case it passed you by, last November Universal Music Group put out an expanded 2 CD edition of The End and it sounds a lot better than the old CD does (comparing the two, it sounds like the earlier “budget” disc that Island put out in 1994 wasn’t even mastered for CD). I’ve gotten massively into this album over the past few months, playing it from start to finish on headphones in the darkness (the way it was obviously meant to heard) dozens of times.

Produced and arranged by John Cale and featuring Brian Eno (doing some astonishing things on his VCS3 synthesizer) and Phil Mananzera, The End is clearly not for everybody—or even most, or even many, people when you get right down to it—but to my ears, the new deluxe set, with outtakes, OGWT performances (audio only), Peel sessions and her controversial take on “Das Lied Der Deutschen” from the June 1st, 1974 concert (If Jimi Hendrix could play “The Star Spangled Banner,” why couldn’t Nico perform the German national anthem?) makes for one of the most satisfying releases of the past 12 months.
 

 
Below, Dangerous Minds pal Danny Fields tells the “meet cute” story of how he introduced Nico and the Lizard King at The Castle in Los Angeles.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘The Inner Scar’: Nico in a desert on a horse with no name


 
French experimental film maker Philippe Garrel’s 1972 allegorical mindfuck La cicatrice intérieure (The Inner Scar) lays on the symbolism with a trowel as it winds its way through the deserts of our mind (or somebody’s) in pursuit of Garrel’s lover Nico, actor Pierre Clementi and some elusive deeper meaning. It’s a gorgeous looking folly that, despite its abundant tracking shots, is so inert it makes L’Avventura look like The Fast And The Furious.

Filmed in North Africa, Iceland, and Death Valley, La cicatrice intérieure has its moments of haunting beauty that suggest a better movie, or at least a more emotionally engaging one. The soundtrack features five songs by Nico and they contribute to the film’s other-worldly weirdness and existential despair.

Garell seems to want to echo the feel of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s mystical western El Topo. Unfortunately, Garrel doesn’t have Jodorowsky’s nerve or wisdom.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Like ‘The Wicker Man’ on heroin: Nico and a young Iggy Pop in ‘Evening of Light,’ 1969
01.07.2013
12:29 pm

Topics:
Art
Drugs
Music
Punk

Tags:
Iggy Pop
Nico


 
Promo video for Nico’s “Evening of Light” (actually the alternate version, as heard on the Frozen Borderline set) directed by François De Menil in 1969, but probably finished much later. There was a tantalizingly brief clip of this in the Nico: Icon documentary and ever since the invention of YouTube, I’ve been hoping to find the complete piece online.

The story is told in Richard Witts’ (fantastic) Nico biography, Nico: The Life and Lies of an Icon, that De Menil, heir to the Schlumberger Limited oil-equipment fortune via his mother’s family, who knew Nico via Warhol associate Fred Hughes, had become besotted by the Teutonic ice queen and proposed making a film with her.

At this time Nico was having a brief affair with a then 21-year-old Iggy Pop, who she met through John Cale, then producing the first Stooges album in New York. (Iggy once revealed to a French interviewer that Nico taught him how to “eat pussy.”) Nico told De Menil that he had to follow them to Ann Arbor, Michigan if he wanted to do it. De Menil obliged, shooting the film behind the house where the band lived.

The way Witts tells the tale is that De Menil seemed to want to get revenge on Iggy because he was Nico’s boyfriend, making the Stooges singer wear white mime make-up and frolic around in a field to embarrass him, but to my mind, this film is absolutely stunning.

Turn it up loud for the full effect!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Terry ¡Me va!’: Pre-Velvet Underground Nico in TV brandy ads, 1964
01.02.2013
12:38 pm

Topics:
Advertising

Tags:
Velvet Underground
Nico


 
The year on the YouTube uploads says 1970, but these corny Centenario Terry brandy ads, made for Spanish TV, actually date back to 1964.
 

 
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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