Blond Angel's Death Song

Small wonder that Nico found a kindred spirit in Jim Morrison. They were both celebrated rock vocalists who couldn't, in the traditional sense, sing worth a damn. They were both extraordinarily attractive. They shared an obsession with death, a romantic view of self-destruction, a passion for heroin, and a penchant for pretentious poetry. On their first date, the Lizard King wooed Nico with a stoned ritual that made her wonder if he was going to kill her; she fell for him immediately. But Morrison had the good career sense to go ahead and actually die, rather than sonorously drone on about death until you wanted to kill him. Nico's timing wasn't as sharp. She burned out and faded away, sucking in the Seventies and Eighties as a touring cabaret freak show, a washed-up diva/junkie schlepping her harmonium from one nightclub gig to another to sing paeans to dissolution and spiritual emptiness, odes to the void. Ironically, according to Ari, Nico had been off heroin for two years when, in 1988, at the age of 49, she fell off a bicycle on the sunny Spanish island of Ibiza and suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage. Nico Icon takes Ari's word for it, although rumors persist that the true cause of death was an overdose of methadone and alcohol.

Nico Icon does not judge Nico; it doesn't need to. By simply presenting a diverging range of opinions from those who knew her and combining those posthumous interviews with previously recorded footage of Nico (ranging from a rough but priceless home movie of the Velvet Underground's first public performance at an American Psychiatric Association Convention to a spooky 1986 interview with the disintegrating yet still eye-catching death angel), the film allows Nico's own surviving friends, lovers, and family to paint a harrowing portrait of a wasted life. But as Nico's clueless and obviously disturbed son Ari's words mesh with those of his mother's former lovers to tell the pathetic story of a truly appalling woman, the wistful edge in their voices suggests that even in death the golden-girl-gone-bad holds them in her thrall.

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