Courtney Love (born Courtney Michelle Harrison on July 9, 1964 in San
Francisco, California) was the singer for the now-defunct band Hole. Love is now
a solo artist, and is also an occasional model and actress. Love is the widow of
Kurt Cobain (1967–1994), lead singer of the band Nirvana. With him she has one
daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, whose custody was denied to her in 2003 for drug
consumption and other behavior.
The daughter of Grateful Dead manager and publisher Hank Harrison and therapist
Linda Carroll (nee Risi), Love spent her childhood with her mother as she
wandered through four husbands and as many hippie communes in Oregon and at
boarding school in Nelson, New Zealand. Love later claimed to have been given
LSD as a toddler. Her father denies this allegation and has passed polygraph
A troubled, angry child, Courtney Love was a veteran of reform schools and
juvenile halls by the time she was a teenager. She broke away from her family
and traveled around the US, United Kingdom and Ireland, living off of a trust
fund established for her by her mother's adoptive parents. Her first rock
musician boyfriend was Roz Rezabek followed in Liverpool by Julian Cope, the
founder of The Teardrop Explodes. In her late teens she worked in Japan as a
stripper, a job that she would return to at several points in her life before
attaining fame. At age 22 she found herself back in Portland, Oregon, then moved
to Los Angeles in 1987 along with the band Babes in Toyland. After being fired
from Babes by founding member Kat Bjelland, she took up in Los Angeles with
Leaving Trains. Viewed by some as a social climber, she befriended many
musicians who would later become alternative rock icons, among them Michael
Stipe of R.E.M. and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins.
It bears mentioning that before Love Michelle Harrison assumed the artistic name "Courtney Love", in 1987 Lois Maffeo formed a duo consisting of herself on vocals and guitar and drummer Pat Maley, releasing a couple of 7" EPs under the band name of "Courtney Love". The band Courtney Love, however, was very different from Harrison's adrenaline charged performances with her band Hole. Hole did not start releasing EPs (the first of which was a song called "Dicknail") until 1990; however Harrison had been credited as 'Courtney love' in her film appearances, including 1986's Sid and Nancy. Courtney Love (the band) played in the twee sub-category of indie-rock of mellow, soft, sickly-sweet yet deftly performed songs. As noted, the band only put out three EPs ("Uncrushworthy," "Highlights" and "Hey! Antoinette") but hailed from Olympia, Washington, where the "grunge" scene was also starting to take hold at about the same time as the "twee" scene.
Courtney Love began her professional music career with a brief stint as the lead singer of Faith No More in the early 1980s. She was kicked out of the band for being overly controlling shortly after. About this time she also played in an all-female pop-rock band called Sugar Baby Doll with Kat Bjelland and Jennifer Finch. None of their Bangles-influenced material has ever been released. Love had more early success as an actress, appearing as the best friend of Nancy Spungen in Alex Cox's Sid Vicious biopic Sid and Nancy in 1986, and in Cox's Straight to Hell in 1987, as well as some small roles on television episodes.
Returning to music in her adopted hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Love claims she co-founded the all-female rock band Babes in Toyland with Kat Bjelland, but this is denied by others; acrimony between Love and Bjelland led to Love's quick exit from the band. The band's biographer claims she stole house receipts to a Butthole Surfers concert. In 1991 Love formed her own band, Hole. The band's debut album garnered little critical or popular attention in the U.S. but was celebrated in the influential British alternative music press. Already a star in England, Hole's fortunes improved considerably following Love's marriage to Cobain and the publicity following Cobain's death.
Unpopular with some Nirvana fans (comparisons to Yoko Ono were made early on and persist to this day), Love's image was further tarnished by a 1992 article in Vanity Fair entitled "Strange Love" in which she admitted to using heroin in the early stages of pregnancy. As a result, Child Welfare Services briefly investigated the Cobains' fitness as parents. Love claims to this day that she was misquoted, saying she had told author Lynn Hirschberg that she had stopped using it once she learned she was pregnant.
Similarly to Axl Rose, Courtney Love was often ridiculed in the press for her abrasive, sometimes erratic behavior, such as cursing at paparazzi and publicly harassing Cobain's former girlfriend, folksinger Mary Lou Lord.
Shortly before the release of Hole's breakthrough album Live Through This in April 1994, Cobain committed suicide. Love read his suicide note at a televised memorial a few days later, sobbing hysterically and alternately cursing her husband as a "f---ing asshole" and pleading with him to come back.
Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff died of a drug overdose two months later. She was replaced by Melissa Auf Der Maur later that year.
Courtney Love was a fashion trendsetter. In her early career, she modeled a "kinderwhore" look, which she was accused of having ripped off of Bjelland, although other sources suggest the rip-off was in fact in the opposite direction. Love stated that the look was inspired by Christina Amphlett of 1980s rock group The Divinyls, most famously in a lengthy phone message recorded and subsequently released by The Muffs, who had ironically titled their album Blonder and Blonder after a sarcastic quote by Love regarding lead singer, Kim Shattuck. Love's style has since evolved, and she has modeled for more sophisticated designer labels.
Love received considerable acclaim for her role as Larry Flynt's wife, Althea,
in Milos Forman's 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt, opposite Woody Harrelson
as Flynt. She was also praised for her supporting role in the 1998 Andy Kaufman
biopic Man on the Moon, which starred Jim
Carrey as Kaufman. Other notable film credits include Basquiat, 200
Cigarettes, and Feeling Minnesota.
Since Cobain's death, conspiracies have circulated that he was in fact murdered at Love's instigation.
Love has been a strong critic of the music industry, especially the RIAA. In 2000, she publicly announced her admiration for Napster which, at the time, was being accused of fostering illegal file-sharing. She became known for her criticism of unfair record contracts and mistreatment of artists.
With Hole having fallen into disarray, Love attempted to begin a "punk rock femme supergroup" called Bastard during summer/autumn of 2001, though this project never reached fruition. Hole broke up that year amid continuing litigation. Love in October 2001 performed in some solo shows as an opening act.
In 2003, Courtney Love pleaded not guilty to felony drug charges related to possession of painkillers. In February of 2004, an arrest warrant was issued for Love after she failed to appear at a preliminary hearing; the warrant was subsequently rescinded when she appeared in court on February 18. She released her first solo album America's Sweetheart just eight days earlier on February 10.
Early on the morning of March 19, 2004 Love was arrested in New York City for allegedly throwing a microphone stand and hitting a man on the head. Earlier in the night, she appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and flashed her breasts at David Letterman six times.
On her 40th birthday, July 9, 2004, she missed a scheduled court appearance relating to an attempted break-in at a boyfriend's house and was found in contempt of court. Her attorney later said she missed the appearance due to medical problems; later in the month she appeared in court and was sentenced to an 18-month probation and drug rehabilitation program.
In August of 2004, Courtney Love alienated some fans when she allowed a bill for a message board tied into her website to go unpaid. Love had agreed to pay (and had been paying) the bill though the board was owned by a fan, which she had decided to reimburse in order to influence aspects of the website's design and usage. The site is now separately managed and no longer affiliated with Love.
Courtney Love recently regained the custody of her daughter after beginning a state-enforced rehabilitation program, although it is still in jeopardy due to a possible drug-related incident which is the subject of current legal action.
According to Neil Strauss's book The Game, at some point before 2005, Courtney Love spent a good amount of time staying at the mansion called "Project Hollywood" where Pick-Up Artists such as the famous "Mystery" resided.
On August 19, 2005, Love admitted using drugs in violation of her probation terms. The rocker-actress was ordered into a 28-day drug treatment program by a judge who initially said "my belief was that you need to go to the county jail." This program was also violated and on September 21 she was sentenced to 6 months in lock down rehab.
Courtney Love was cast to star as legendary cowgirl Texas Guinan in the story of her life, called Hello Sucker!. The film was never made.
Love is set to release her sophomore solo album, Exile In Blonde, under Virgin Records in 2006.
In August 2005, tabloid papers such as News of the World began reporting that Love became pregnant during an affair with British actor and comedian Steve Coogan. Coogan's spokeswoman, alongside Love's publicists, have discredited the story as "nonsense".
Punk band Cancerous Giraffe's self-titled first album includes a song defending Love against accusations of causing the death of Cobain (and pokes fun at those who believe the hype) in a song called "Courtney Love is a Dirty, Dirty, Wh*re".
Still a major sweetheart in Japan, Courtney Love has just recently confirmed tour dates (small club shows) in Tokyo set for this spring.
When Courtney Love lived in Japan, she became a fan of manga. She co-created a series called Princess Ai ('Ai' meaning 'Love'). Princess Ai features the character design of Ai Yazawa. Dialogue for Princess Ai's main character, Ai, is taken from Love's song lyrics.
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