Courtney Love

Courtney Love has long been one of the most volatile, violent and litigious performers in Hollywood. A punk rocker, actress, and widow of rock legend Kurt Cobain.


Courtney Michelle Harrison was born to parents Linda Caroll, a well-known publicist, and Hank Harrison, a publisher. It can be said that her so-called free spirit ways emanated from an early age as she travelled around with her family, mostly in hippy communes.

In 1984, Love received a trust fund from her grandmother and took the opportunity to put it to use for travelling the world, visiting places such as Japan, Ireland and even Liverpool, where she met a musician named Julian Cope and moved in with him, becoming a regular face at his gigs.

The relationship didn't last and Love eventually returned to America where, having been infected with the notion of the music 'scene', she began singing with bands in the local area. Love soon caught the attention of film director Alex Cox in 1986, who cast her as a minor role in 'Sid and Nancy', a film about Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his lover Nancy Spungen. He followed this up by giving her a more prominent role in a later feature 'Straight to Hell', but the film flopped and went straight to DVD.

During this time, Love was balancing her acting failures with musical dabbling. Her association with fellow musician Kat Bjelland led to the forming of several different bands, in which Love ended up being kicked out of each. Love's first band collaboration with Bjelland was called Sugar Baby Doll in which the two styled themselves accordingly to the band's name in baby doll dresses and heavily smeared make-up.

Next the duo formed a band named The Pagan Babies, recording four demo tracks before once again booting Love out. The final reincarnation of the Love/Bjelland music relationship came with Babes in Toyland with Love on bass but once again her involvement was to be short-lived when she asked to leave for the last time.

With no job and no money, Love had to resort to the lows of stripping, and, apparently being turned away from local clubs for being too fat, she headed back to LA.


Love had taught herself to play guitar properly by 1989 and it was this iconic year that she decided to form her own band, placing an ad for musicians in a local magazine - the result of which became the band Hole with Eric Erlandson (guitar), Jill Emery (bass), and Caroline Rue (drums).

The band's debut album 'Pretty on the Inside' was released in 1991 and whilst it didn't set the charts on fire, it did receive rave reviews in the British music press and soon Love began to meet and befriend more influential musicians such as Michael Stipe of REM and Billy Morgan of The Smashing Pumpkins.

The same year as Hole's album release, Love met Kurt Cobain from the band Nirvana at the Satyricon club in Portland. The whirlwind romance led to a Hawaii beach wedding in February 1992 and by August of that year, the couple's daughter Frances Bean was born.

Of course, the media went into a frenzy and major record labels suddenly began to take more serious notice of Love's music career. Rumours started to circulate quickly of Love and Cobain's supposed drug antics though - even while Love was pregnant with Frances. Accordingly, social services began to investigate the duo but Frances was not taken away from her parents.

Love's joint drug abuse with her husband began to accelerate at a rapid pace, culminating in the tragic events of 8 April 1984 when Cobain, deeply depressed, committed suicide using a shotgun to his head. Love made the brave and public step of reading out his tragic last words to hoards of distressed fans at his memorial service a few days later.

Cobain's suicide came just four days before Hole's first huge commercial album release - 'Live Through This' - and while grieving for her husband, Love was then forced to endure more emotional torment when Hole's bassist Kristen Pfaff overdosed on heroin and died just two months later.

Rumours circulated that Cobain had co-written a large part of Hole's second album but Love vehemently denied this. To protect the band and Cobain's name, Love maintained a fairly professional relationship with the remaining Nirvana band mates and formed a partnership with them in 1997 called Nirvana LLC which would control all Nirvana related releases and try and protect the interests of all parties. However, the relations between Love and the group eventually became strained and by 2001, Love sought to terminate the company.


Not one to sit back and crumble, Love picked herself up and recruited a new replacement for Pfaff before touring with Hole internationally in 1995, appearing at worldwide festivals including Reading. 'Live Through This' had become a critical success and by April 1995, it had gone platinum.

Love hadn't forgotten her somewhat unimpressionable acting career and took a part playing the wife of Larry Flynt in 'The People Vs. Larry Flynt', opposite Woody Harrelson in 1996. Hole's performance won great acclaim and earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.

Meanwhile, Hole released their third album, 'Celebrity Skin', in 1998 which managed to garner the same amount of fan interest as her previous release as it went multi-platinum in the charts.

The band went on a world tour again to promote the album, ending back in America with a co-headline set of gigs with Marilyn Manson. The collaboration didn't gel well and Hole dropped out, citing no animosity but stating that they had to pay 50 per cent of Manson's stage costs as the sole reason.

Hole's fame may have been at the level Love desired but after giving a speech at the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference in 2000, she branded the recording contract system corrupt and was famously quoted as saying the band "may as well be working at a 7-Eleven."

Love had begun to lose interest in Hole by 2001 and formed the short-lived all-female punk rock band Bastard. A demo was completed but amounted to nothing after conflicts between Love and the bassist Gina Crosley. In May 2002, Hole announced that they were splitting up and it was time for Love to go it alone.


Seemingly, Love's one-time musical and acting acclaim had fallen by the wayside as her drug addictions had clearly become the dominating factor in her life. So followed the self-destructive downfall of Love and the increase of her rowdy public behaviour.

In February 2003, Love was arrested at Heathrow airport on arrival from Los Angeles for a benefit at the Old Vic theatre. During the Virgin Atlantic flight it was claimed that she had been abusive to the crew and when the plane landed, Love was met by police officers and escorted to a van where she was held in custody overnight before being released without charge.

In October, Love was arrested in LA in the act of breaking several windows to enter her then-boyfriend, manager and producer Jim Barber's home. Barber did not press charges but Love was charged for being under the influence of a controlled substance. She was released on bail but just four hours later, was rushed to hospital to be treated for an accidental overdose. Eight days later, Love's daughter Frances Bean was put in the care of Wendy O'Connor, Cobain's mother.

Following the incident, Love pleaded not guilty to drug charges related to possession of painkillers but in February 2004, an arrest warrant was issued after she failed to appear at a preliminary hearing.

Getting her act together temporarily, Love appeared in court the same month, having also released her first solo venture album 'America's Sweetheart' simultaneously. The album was panned, probably not helped by Love's constant media coverage for her behaviour under the influence. In an attempt to win back old fans and revive new ones, Love re-recorded the songs and second time lucky; it managed to sell 86,000 copies in the first three months.

Since Love's drugs possession charge in 2003, her daughter had resided with her paternal grandfather but in January 2005, she finally regained custody of her after completing a rehab programme and entering a probation period.

However, by August the same year, Love admitted using drugs again in violation of her probation. She was ordered onto a 28-day drug treatment programme which Love then also violated and was subsequently sentenced to six months in a closed rehab unit.


Three months after being released from the court-ordered rehab, Love began to record her second solo album in which she'd taken time out to writing during her period of confinement. The album entitled 'How Dirty Girls Get Clean' included an anti-cocaine song called 'Loser Dust'. It was planned for release in 2008 but several tracks were leaked on the internet in 2006 and 2007.

On 17 June 2009, Love told NME magazine that the band Hole were reforming but former guitarist Eric Erlandson stated that contractually a reunion could not occur without him. This technically meant the album 'Nobody's Daughter' would be a solo record rather than a Hole CD.

However, Love took to Twitter stating he was out of his mind as it was her band and trademark. As a result, the album was released as a Hole record in April 2010.

The new line-up comprised guitarist Micko Larkin, Shawn Dailey on bass, and Stu Fisher for drums and percussion. Many of the tracks on the album such as 'Letters to God', 'Samantha' and 'Never Go Hungry' were originally written for Love's aborted second solo album.

In March 2010, the first single from the album 'Skinny Little Bitch' was the most added song on alternative rock radio. Love appeared on 'The Late Show with David Letterman' and 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' to promote the album.

The band toured Europe, Japan and the US during 2010 to promote the album that is based on Love's tumultuous life between 2003 and 2007. In summer 2011, the band performed at several Russian festivals and they continued to tour in Brazil and Australia in 2012.

The rise, fall and rise again of Love will no doubt continue to make the headlines due to her unpredictable, wild and addictive nature, but without that aspect of her personality, she just wouldn't be the Courtney Love that we've all come to recognise today.