Nico: The End

ISBN: 0879515457
ISBN 13: 9780879515454
By: James Young

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About this book

The funniest and truest rock biography ever writtenIn 1982, Nico - former model, film actress, singer with the Velvet Underground, 'darling' of Andy Walhol's Factory, and latterly drug addict - began a comeback to her chequerboard career.James Young was the keyboard player hired to play in Nico's ramshackle band on her world tour throughout the 1980s until her tragic death in 1988.This moving, yet often hilariously funny account of Nico's life, is written by a man who came to know well the extraordinary Berlin chanteuse and Fellini siren.A sharply observed memoir, utterly fresh... a wonderful array of characters... - Pete Clark, Mail on SundayWildly entertaining, and often disgustingly funny... a terrific writer - Mike Petty, Literary ReviewI've read some books about the Rock and Roll business and I'd have to say this was in the top two - a brilliant book - Mark Radcliffe, Radio 5Whoever publishes this book deserves applause. And whoever wrote it deserves a standing ovation... - Danny Sugarman, Author of No One Gets Out of Here Alive

Reader's Thoughts


fuck yeah. the solution to the problem is to read faster.

MJ Nicholls

A wild, irreverent romp through the darkest moment in Nico's history. OK, so every moment in Nico's career was "the darkest" but this is much darker. Young writes with a lacerating wit, taking no prisoners as he evokes the chancers, hangers-on, druggies and lunatics touring with Nico on her 1000-date world tour. His ear for detail, dialect, character is amazing. He evokes the sleazy degeneracy of the scene, taking us away from Nico, the dull junkie, into a wider world of nihilism and madness.His character-assassination of John Cale is one of the most surpising moments: a lifelong Japanese fan of Cale comes to his dressing room, makes a shy speech and hands him a present. Cale tears it open. Inside is a small bottle of alcohol. A freshly-clean Cale hands it back to the girl, saying: "I don't drink." Ouch. The legacy of the Velvet Underground, apart from the music, is a trail of drug abuse, asshole behaviour, and laughable egoism. Young rocks it home.


Don't do drugs - drink tea instead, it's much nicer

Burt Campbell

Outstanding portrait, not just of Nico, but of the culture & times.


Nico is middle aged, plump and addicted to heroin. She moves to Manchester and at one point shares a flat with John Cooper Clarke. Can't express how funny and Manchester this book is...a MUST read for sure!

Ian Paganus

Teutonic LaughterDespite the Teutonic subject matter, this is one of the funniest music books I have ever read.James Young was Nico's keyboard player for many years during her solo post-VU period, leading up to her unfortunate death.So he had a long time to witness her at her worst and most self-abusive.It must have been painful to have to live with her shenanigans and to be financially dependent on her for a musical career as well.The Veins of the Ice MaidenThis memoir lays out the veins of the Ice Maiden for all to see.Andy Warhol said somewhere that Nico reminded him of an IBM computer with a Greta Garbo accent.I'm sure I read this in one of his books, but I can't locate it.Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Michael Brown

What did I know about the Velvet Underground? Not much. Still don't. What did I know about Nico? Probably less, but I know a bit more now. And even though this book is heavily impressionistic and I'm inclined to question the complete authenticity of some of the wittier episodes, there's no doubt it's an interesting window into the twilight of a cult and it is very, very entertaining to read and rich with colourful detail of one kind or another. In fact, it's a rare example of a book that might not have suffered by being a little bit longer. But then again isn't the worst thing a book can be ALSO the best thing it can be - Not long enough.


Nico, my favorite antihero.


I don't like to write it but this book wasn't really good. I thought that most events seemed to have been made up, there is a LOT of direct dialogue and I don't see how he could remember all that. There are also so many clich├ęs. For example there's a scene where he claims that their things have been stolen after a gig in Poland. I don't know, of course it could have happened but it seemed to have been made up. There were also some scenes with a lot of potential like when it was described how Nico looked forward to meeting Bob Dylan again but it wasn't described properly, just a couple of sentences. There was no real narrative either. I wouldn't really recommend this book.

Pat Fitzgerald

Most honest book about being in a deadend band I've ever read. Funny as hell too.

Jane Chakrarthy

James Young played in Nico's revival period, long gone were the days of modelling for Channel,the structure of The Velvet Underground, the major parties with the "elite" of rock and the easy free drugs that came part of that Parcel. This book describes a period of time that had Nico wandering; looking for a light that perhaps became wan a long time ago, unfortunate decisions, life circumstances and unfailing desire to cloud them out with the drugs that came her way. Depressing it can appear but there is a poignant beauty in reading about someone who uncompromisingly took her path ,demons an all and carried on doing what she wanted to do. The fact that she did so many concerts when many would have folded around this time is quite amazing.. Fair enough some of the concerts were a mess, however, as Young points out that was probably more to do with the dodgy management and his bands youth and inexperience than because of Nico, who seemed to come, go to the bathroom to "load up" do her thing and leave. Short and interesting read esp if you have some prior knowledge of Nico

Albert F. Jester absolute beast


Bloody funny.


I found this book while on vacation in London and was sold by John Water's quote on the back cover, praising the sad dark humor of James Young's account of life on tour with one post-glory Nico.Sad? Absolutely. Dark. Oh, hell yes. Funny? I did chuckle a few times, but only in the way that one sometimes has to laugh to keep from crying in the face of profound hopelessness.Young was a musician in Nico's back-up band when the Warhol Factory-era icon attempted a mostly disastrous comeback tour in the 80s. This tour would wind through many years and countries, with over 1,000 gigs played by the time of her death in 1988.For me, the book played out like an Alex Cox remake of the classic comedy My Favorite Year, with Nico in the role of Peter O'Toole's lovably washed-up alcoholic screen legend and the further addition of a madcap supporting cast of drug-addled hangers-on straight from the world of Sid & Nancy.If only Nico possessed the same faded devil-may-care charm as O'Toole's cracked actor, Mr. Water's claim of dark comedy could have been more apt (though who am I to argue what makes John Waters laugh?). Nico is a sad, bitter, hollow soul in this book, completely enslaved to heroin and obsessed with her own decay and mortality. Not exactly the life of the party.We do get glimpses of the author's rare moments with Nico when she let her guard down, when she stole a rare smile, or in perhaps the most simply beautiful moment in the book, when Nico sits in a boat during a sunset, giggling and singing a children's song.Such moments are mere sentences in a book filled with pages and pages of miserable people performing desperate acts in order to achieve their almighty high, whether it be in the form of heroin, prostitutes or other even more arcane pursuits.This wasn't the easiest book to read, though it was a very strong portrait of a woman known best as the ice princess of the Velvet Underground, the emotionless beauty whose face could have been a mirror or a movie screen.In the book, Nico is being interviewed by a particularly clueless radio jockey who introduces her as "the Femme Fatale herself, Nico." To which she responds, in dry earnestness, "That song was actually not written about me, you know."Her great frustration based on Young's account is that she was only ever appreciated as the diva behind Warhol's banana; however, we also discover a Nico who is eager to re-live her glory days, hallucinating Jim Morrisson from the window of her tour bus and weeping alone in her dressing room when Bob Dylan refused to attend one of her shows.Largely, this book was more heartbreak than humor for me, but the nuance of Nico's charm is not completely absent - a spice that flavored her legend, but left me wishing for more.


This is one of the best music biographies I ever read, from memory it was written by the guy who played keyboards in Nico's eighties touring band, and on some of her later albums.James Young writes this book as an observer, as he travels Europe with Nico and her band,and meets a lot of eccentrics junkies and oddballs.At this period of her life Nico was a hardened junkie and sought out drugs wherever she went,I don't think anyone can possibly write a book that would portray the true Nico as she always seems so cold and aloof, but James Young has definitely got as close as anyone will.

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