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You are Beautiful and
You Are Alone
The Biography of Nico

The definitive biography of the woman
who dared to live by her own rules.







The real story of Nico is one of determination, self-destruction and belief in one’s artistic vision, at any cost.

Nico was an ever-evolving myth, an enigma that escaped definition.

Born Christa Päffgen, Nico grew up in war-torn Berlin before being scouted by a fashion photographer in her early teens. At age twenty-seven, she became Andy Warhol’s newest Superstar, securing the position of chanteuse for the Velvet Underground. Though she is primarily remembered for contributions to their seminal debut album – and her relationships with Brian Jones, Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison – her own artistry and influence have often been overlooked.

Nico spent most of her career as a solo artist on the road, enduring empty concert halls, abusive fans and the perilous reality of being a drug addict. Yet beneath the superficial denigrations and one-dimensional myths was a complicated visionary determined to make art that was truly her own.

"Nico, in her life and times, straddled the worlds 

of post-war European and American

decadence like an alternative Colossus; or 

perhaps an Albatross.

Here is a scholarly and 

detailed chronicle of this brilliant artist, who 

was spurned and tortured for her trouble."

- Iggy Pop 

on You Are Beautiful You are Alone

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Picked as one of Rough Trade's BOOKS OF THE YEAR in both the US (#4) and the UK (#22)


'The closest anyone has come to cracking the enigma of Nico.'
  - Rough Trade

Praise for Nico

Thrilled to have You Are Beautiful and You are Alone: The Biography of Nico be included on both Uncut and Mojo's best of 2021 end of year lists

'Ms. Bickerdike, a pop-music scholar who has written books on Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, digs deeper than any prior biographer. She unearths a unique artistic temperament stunted by the complications of an underground life...[Bickerdike] has rounded out what had been an incomplete portrait, obscured by myths, of a woman who fought hard to become an artist worthy of a book like this.'

Marc Weingarten / Wall Street Journal

"A gripping portrait of one of the

most fascinating figures in late 20th-century music."

Will Hodgkinson / The Times

"The book that Nico’s real devotees have been waiting for, and this unique lady has long deserved, deserves to sit with the great biographies."

5 stars

Kris Needs / Record Collector 

"Sometimes truculent, often uncompromising, Nico was not an easy person to know, and Jennifer Otter Bickerdike does not shy away from exploring the difficult sides to her character in this biography. But it's a compassionate portrayal of a musician whose artistry has often been overlooked, a woman who channelled horrific childhood experience of war-blasted Berlin into a kind of sonic poetry."

4 stars 

Lucy O'Brien / Mojo

'...American fan culture writer Jennifer Otter Bickerdike aims to correct with her expansively researched biography [incorrect mythology] which unearths a legion of eyewitnesses and acquaintances spanning continents and decades.'

Michael Dwyer / Brisbane Times

"Nico’s life has been documented before, but rarely with such clarity, and this biography once again reinvents the statuesque singer, painting her troubled portrait from a more empathetic, 21st-century perspective"

4 stars

Ben Graham / Shindig

"You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone grimly absorbs from start to finish."

Ian Thomson / Observer

"With considerable compassion, You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone demonstrates that the challenges Nico faced were not all of her own making and that her quest to be taken seriously as a woman and an artist is still not over."

Andy Miller / The Spectator

"Nico’s life has been documented before, but rarely with such clarity, and this biography once again reinvents the statuesque singer, painting her troubled portrait from a more empathetic, 21st-century perspective"

Publishers Weekly 

"75 Nonfiction Books You Should Read This Summer"

Lit Hub

"The book is a stunning portrait of a conflicted artist that I personally knew very little about before reading this book. It’s a deeply engaging, well written, and well paced book that I enjoyed immensely and may even read again soon."

Dakin Hardwick, Spinning Platters

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