The Beatles Browser
By Bill Harry
Nico was a multi-talented female. Her real name was Christa Paffgen and she’d been born in Cologne, Germany on December 16 1938. She had a startling beauty and inspired a song by Bob Dylan, a story by Ernest Hemingway, a film by Andy Warhol and a poem by Jean Baudrillard.
It was Warhol who decided she should become the singer with the Velvet Underground. She later left the group to embark on a solo career and made several albums and 17 films. Later in life, she became a heroin addict, put on weight and lost her looks. She died from a brain haemorrhage, caused when she fell off her bike during a holiday in Ibiza on July 18, 1988.
After she’d made the film ‘Chelsea Girls’, she moved to London to receive medical attention for a perforated ear. She turned up one day at photographer David Bailey’s house with her suitcase and said she wanted to move in. Instead, he suggested she stay at Paul McCartney’s house in Cavendish Avenue.
Paul took her in.
Nico had been at the private party at Brian Epstein’s house which previewed ‘Sgt Pepper’ for the press.
“It is European. It has brass bands and orchestras,” she said. “There is a song I liked on ‘Sgt Pepper’ called ‘A Day in the Life.’ It is a beautiful song and then this strange sound like John Cale would make (he told me it was an orchestra, actually) and then this stupid little pop song that spoils everything so far. I told this to Paul, and I made a mistake, because the beautiful song was written by John Lennon and the stupid song was written by Paul. It can be embarrassing when you speak the truth.”
Jane Asher was away from Cavendish Avenue at the time, but Linda Eastman was in town and Nico was outstaying her welcome. Warhol arrived in London with Paul Morrisey and was hoping to talk to Brian Epstein into either managing the Velvet Underground or bringing them over to Europe for a tour. They talked Nico into leaving Paul’s house with the offer of her joining the Velvet Underground in concert in Boston. The three of them flew over to Boston and discovered that the Underground had hired a new manager and wouldn’t allow Nico to sing with them.
Commenting on their 1964 tour of America, Beatles aide Derek Taylor said, “I always saw the Beatles in certain circumstances as a bit like Tom Thumb, who in Victorian times was wheeled around like a freak – a cute freak, but a freak nevertheless. The Beatles were seen as like that, as novelties or freaks, like a panda with five legs.”
The Beatles provided backing for a singer called Simone Jackson at the Cavern on Wednesday, 12 September 1962. The London singer was making a special appearance at the club and compere Bob Wooler commented, “She was one of the very few and favoured people to be backed by the Beatles.
“In their earlier Hamburg days they had accompanied singer Tony Sheridan and they were sufficiently interested by a Liverpool group of singers called the Chants to play for them too. I can recall only two other occasions when the Beatles backed other people.
“One was when they did their very first theatre date at a Liverpool Empire Sunday Concert and accompanied Craig Douglas at the end of the first half. The other was when, as a novelty item, they backed Ray McFall himself at the Cavern for two numbers – Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ and Vic Damone’s ‘Tender Is The Night.’ But Simone Jackson was something rather special. She had a superb voice with great soul and feeling in her delivery. The Beatles thought a lot of her and so did the capacity crowd at the Cavern.”
Singer Robbie Williams owns the head of W.C. Fields that was used on the cover of the ‘Sgt Pepper’ album.
According to Astrid Kirchherr she never tried to give former Beatles drummer Pete Best a haircut. She said it wouldn’t have worked because his hair was too curly. Pete also confirms that he was never asked to have his hair cut in the same style of the others – which blows the theory some people have come up with that he was sacked from the Beatles because he refused to have the mop top haircut!