Nico Sings “Chelsea Girls” in the Famous Chelsea Hotel

Ah, the Hotel Chelsea: home, in its hey­day, to all man­ner of New York City writ­ers, artists, rock­ers, and rogues. You can’t move in anymore—the man­age­ment insti­tut­ed a short stay-only pol­i­cy even before clos­ing for ren­o­va­tions in 2011—but even if you could, sure­ly the lega­cy of so many 20th-cen­tu­ry artis­tic lumi­nar­ies would weigh heav­i­ly indeed. Read up on Bob Dylan, Charles Bukows­ki, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Dylan Thomas, or Arthur C. Clarke, and you’ll find out about their extend­ed stays at the Chelsea. Read Pat­ti Smith’s mem­oir Just Kids, and you’ll learn even more about the place from Smith’s remem­brance of her days there with pho­tog­ra­ph­er Robert Map­plethor­pe. Watch Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls and you’ll glimpse the lives of the askew ingénues Warhol housed at the hotel, includ­ing Vel­vet Under­ground singer Nico.

Dig into Nico’s solo career, and you’ll soon hear her album Chelsea Girl. The clip above comes from a doc­u­men­tary includ­ing Warhol’s Chelsea Girls, and fea­tures Nico singing the almost-title track “Chelsea Girls” from that album. The film, Nico’s record, and the sem­i­nal Vel­vet Under­ground & Nico all appeared in the coun­ter­cul­tur­al­ly pro­duc­tive year of 1967. Rid­ing the wave of fame gen­er­at­ed by her time as a Warhol “Super­star,” Nico would spend the next twen­ty years record­ing five more solo albums, act­ing in sev­en pic­tures by film­mak­er Philippe Gar­rel, mak­ing her musi­cal come­back onstage at CBGB, and get­ting hooked on and sub­se­quent­ly kick­ing hero­in before pass­ing away in 1988. A bit lat­er in the video, an inter­view­er asks if she con­sid­ers her­self the one who made the Hotel Chelsea famous. “I am one of the per­sons,” replies the Ger­man-born Nico. “Aside from the peo­ple that are now in heav­en… or in hell, or… not stay­ing here.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Warhol’s Screen Tests: Lou Reed, Den­nis Hop­per, Nico, and More

Hear New­ly-Released Mate­r­i­al from the Lost Acetate Ver­sion of The Vel­vet Under­ground & Nico (1966)

Andy Warhol Quits Paint­ing, Man­ages The Vel­vet Under­ground (1965)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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