Christa Päffgen was a German model who renamed herself Nico and had a supporting role in Federico Fellini’s masterpiece of decadent pop society, La Dolce Vita. She met Dylan in Paris in the spring of 1964. He had sung the praises of La Dolce Vita’s Anita Ekberg in “I Shall Be Free No. 10” and was no doubt happy to meet another starlet from the film. Nico accompanied him to Germany and Athens while he wrote much of his fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan. The track “Motorpsycho Nitemare” features a woman who looks like she stepped out of La Dolce Vita. Nico later claimed Dylan wrote “I’ll Keep It with Mine” for her, but then again, both Joan Baez and Judy Collins claimed that, too.
A year later, Nico hooked up with the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones. The Stones’ manager, Andrew Oldham, took her on as a client and decided to give her the same treatment that had launched Marianne Faithfull’s career. In late May he produced her cover of folk singer Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Sayin’,” with Jones and Jimmy Page on guitar. Oldham and Page wrote the atmospheric B side “The Last Mile,” which mourns lost childhood like the singles by Oldham’s other chanteuses Faithfull and
That month, when Nico was in Paris, she met Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, and Warhol’s assistant, Gerard Malanga, at the nightclub Chez Castel, where What’s New, Pussycat? had been filmed. The film’s stars, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and Ursula Andress were hanging out that night as well. Malanga gave Nico the number of the Factory and told her to visit the next time she was in New York.
Around that time, Dylan’s (and Lightfoot’s) manager, Albert Grossman, heard Nico’s single, along with a demo she’d made with Dylan, singing “I’ll Keep It with Mine,” and offered to manage her if she came to the States. So she flew to New York and went to the Factory with Brian Jones. Morrissey thought she was “the most beautiful creature that ever lived.” He and Warhol wanted to use her in movies and maybe something musical — and by years end she had joined the Velvet Underground.
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