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Courtney Michelle Love (born Courtney Michelle Harrison on July 9, 1964) is an American rock musician and actress. Love is known as lead singer and lyricist for the alternative rock band Hole and for her marriage to the late Nirvana singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain. Rolling Stone called Love “the most controversial woman in the history of rock”.

Life and career

Family background

Love’s mother Linda Carroll was adopted by an Italian-American couple at birth, retaining no contact with her birth father or her birth mother, who she discovered was the children’s writer Paula Fox. Carroll's autobiography Her Mother’s Daughter, in 2006, told of her relationship with both adoptive mother and elder daughter.

Conflicting news began to appear in August 2003 regarding Love’s family tree, some remarking that Love’s mother had taken DNA tests that proved that Carroll’s father was Marlon Brando. The reports implied this disclosure would appear in Carroll’s memoir. Later that month, Carroll’s publisher, Doubleday, told the New York Daily News, “There was nothing in Linda Carroll’s book proposal about Marlon Brando, nor will there be anything in the book about him. I’ve spoken to her and she has told me that there is no truth to the suggestion that she is related to Marlon Brando.”

Early life

Courtney Michelle Harrison was born in San Franciscomarker, California, the daughter of Linda Carroll, a therapist, and Hank Harrison, a publisher. She has described herself as being of Irish and Jewish ancestry. Love’s family broke up soon after her birth. During a child custody case following her parents’ divorce, her mother and one of her friends presented letters implying her father had given the child, then three years old, LSD. Harrison denies this allegation and has passed polygraph tests; however, these allegations led to full custody being awarded to Love’s mother.

Love spent a troubled childhood with her mother, who married and divorced three times, and settled in hippie communes in Oregonmarker. Before arriving in New Zealand, Love had been left in the United States with Shirley, a friend of her mother's, a therapist, while her mother, the new husband and her half-sisters settled in New Zealand without her. Shortly after reuniting with her family in New Zealand, Love was sent to the boarding school in Nelson.

While in boarding school, Love wrote poetry, joined a Bay City Rollers fan club, and, at 12, applied to join the Mickey Mouse Club; she was rejected after reading a poem by Sylvia Plath at the audition.

At 16, Love traveled around the U.S., Englandmarker and the Republic of Irelandmarker, living on a trust fund established for her by her mother’s adoptive parents. In England, she moved into the Toxtethmarker, Liverpoolmarker, home of musician Julian Cope, of The Teardrop Explodes, and became a regular at rock shows. In his autobiography Head-On, Cope refers to her as "the adolescent" in place of using her name. She also developed a friendship with Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen.

Eventually, she went to Portland, Oregonmarker, still pursuing music. She worked as an erotic dancer, choosing the stage surname Love as a tribute to the motto peace and love.

Early musical career

Love began her music career with a brief stint as lead singer of Faith No More. Keyboardist Roddy Bottum described the band as “democratic”, saying that Love’s dominating personality did not fit in. The two have remained friends, working together in 2005 on a track for the film Adam & Steve.

At 22, Love moved to Portland, then to Los Angeles in 1987 with musician Kat Bjelland, beginning a period in which she formed bands with Bjelland only to be ousted from each. The pair first formed a band in Los Angeles, with Jennifer Finch, called Sugar Baby Doll (alternately Sugar Babylon). Love and Bjelland began to dress alike, wearing dirty Babydoll dresses, plastic hair clips, ripped stockings and overdone, smeared makeup. An argument between the two raged over who had come up with their style, later dubbed Kinderwhore. Love claimed she took the style from Christina Amphlett of 1980s Australian rock group, Divinyls.

Love and Bjelland formed a band called The Pagan Babies in San Francisco, with Deidre Schletter on drums and Janis Tanaka on bass. The band recorded a demo of four tracks, then ejected Love and renamed themselves Italian Whorenuns. Lastly, in Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker, Bjelland started her longest-running band, Babes in Toyland. Love played bass but was kicked out of this group as well. Love had more success as an actress, appearing as Gretchen, a friend of Nancy Spungen in Alex Cox’s Sid Vicious biopic Sid and Nancy in 1986, and in Cox’s spaghetti-western, Straight to Hell in 1987.

In 1989, Love taught herself to play guitar and set out to form her own band. She placed an ad in Flipside, to which Eric Erlandson replied. Love and Erlandson founded Hole and are the only two constant members through the band’s history. The group made their first gig in November 1989, after three months of rehearsal, and made singles on the Long Beach, Californiamarker, independent label Sympathy for the Record Industry. The debut album Pretty on the Inside was released in early 1991 on Caroline Records, produced by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Don Fleming of the band Gumball. It sold well for an independent release and received favorable reviews in the British alternative music press. During this period, she befriended many figures in the alternative rock scene, including Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins (whom she briefly dated).


Love met Kurt Cobain on January 12, 1990, in Portland's Satyricon nightclub when the two still led underground rock bands. Love made advances but Cobain was evasive. Early in their courtship Cobain broke off dates and ignored Love’s advances because he wasn’t sure he wanted a relationship. Cobain noted, "I was determined to be a bachelor for a few months [...] But I knew that I liked Courtney so much right away that it was a really hard struggle to stay away from her for so many months."

Love lived a block from the Los Angeles apartment Cobain's band Nirvana used while recording their second album, Nevermind. Love stopped by often, saying, "We bonded over pharmaceuticals." They met again in May 1991, after Cobain's band had signed a major-label contract, at a Butthole Surfers concert. In November 1991, touring Europe at the same time , they conceived a child together.

Love and Cobain married on Waikiki Beachmarker in Honolulumarker, Hawaii, on February 24, 1992. Love wore a satin and lace dress once owned by the actress Frances Farmer, and Cobain wore green pajamas, because he’d been "too lazy to put on a tux". Six months later, on August 18, the couple’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was born.

On April 8, 1994, four days before the release of Hole’s first major-label album, Live Through This, Cobain was found in his Seattlemarker, Washington home, killed by an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound to his head. Two days later, fans assembled at a memorial service in Seattle. During the memorial, a recording was played of Love reading his suicide note, as she felt portions were addressed to his fans. Love interrupted the note frequently to express anger and sorrow, telling Cobain that if he hated it so much, he should just “quit being a rock star”. Love asked everyone to call Cobain an “asshole”; on the recording, the crowd obeys. Finally, Love implored fans not to listen to Cobain’s final words, “it’s better to burn out than fade away,” from Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey ”.

Live Through This tour (1994)

Hole was struck by tragedy again when bassist Kristen Pfaff died of an apparent heroin overdose on June 16, 1994, two months after Cobain's death and the new album. A few months later, Love told MTV’s Kurt Loder, "You know ... people go back to work. This is what I do. I gotta make a living." Love recruited 22-year-old bassist Melissa Auf der Maur on Corgan’s recommendation to fill in for Pfaff, and took Hole on the road, appearing at the Reading Festival in England. The band’s performance was written up by broadcaster John Peel in The Guardian:

Meanwhile, Live Through This was a commercial and critical success. Rolling Stone, Spin and the Village Voice declared it “Album of the Year”, and by November the record was certified gold. By April 1995, it went platinum. Hole embarked on a tour opening for Nine Inch Nails.

Celebrity Skin era (1998–2000)

Love received acclaim as Larry Flynt’s wife, Althea, in Miloš Forman’s 1996 film The People vs. Larry Flynt, opposite Woody Harrelson as Flynt. She received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Drama and a New York Film Critics Circle Award for best supporting actress. During this time she began dating Edward Norton, a relationship which after four years would become her longest. The two were engaged but broke up.

In 1998, Hole released Celebrity Skin. Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars, saying “the album teems with sonic knockouts that make you see all sorts of stars. It’s accessible, fiery and intimate—often at the same time. Here is a basic guitar record that’s anything but basic.” Celebrity Skin went on to go multi-platinum, and topped “Best of Year” lists at Spin, the Village Voice, and other periodicals. Erlandson was still the lead guitarist, and now there were Melissa Auf der Maur’s backup vocals and bass, but drummer Patty Schemel was replaced by a session drummer during the recording.

Love and Fender’s low-price Squier brand created her line of guitars, Vista Venus (as Cobain did in 1994, doing the design of his Fender Jag-Stang). The instrument featured a shape inspired by Mercury, Stratocaster and Rickenbacker’s solidbodies and had a single-coil and a humbucker pickup. In an early 1999 interview, Love said about the Venus: “I wanted a guitar that sounded really warm and pop, but which required just one box to go dirty (...) And something that could also be your first band guitar. I didn’t want it all teched out. I wanted it real simple, with just one pickup switch. Because I think that cultural revolutions are in the hands of guitar players”. She also declared, “my Venus is better than the Jag-Stang”. The Squier Vista Venus model is currently discontinued, as is the Jag-Stang as of 2006.

Hole toured Australia in 1999 to support the album, then the U.S. on a tour with Marilyn Manson. The two bands mocked each other on stage. Hole dropped off the tour, citing the obligation to pay 50% of Manson’s staging costs as a reason. The singers of both bands told MTV there was no animosity and they were happy to end the tour. Hole finished the year’s dates with Imperial Teen opening.

In May 2000, Love spoke in New York at the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference, criticizing the major American record labels. The speech was reproduced on the news site Love accused the labels of a corrupt system of recording contracts to make the labels millions, while the band “may as well be working at a 7-Eleven.”

With Hole in disarray, Love began a “punk rock femme supergroup” called Bastard during autumn 2001, enlisting Schemel, Veruca Salt frontwoman Louise Post, and bassist Gina Crosley, whom Post recommended. Though a demo was completed, the project never reached fruition: conflicts between Love and Crosley, then between Love and replacement bassist Corey Parks from Nashville Pussy, led to the group’s demise. On May 24, 2002, Hole announced their breakup amid continuing litigation with Universal Music Group. However, on June 17, 2009, Love announced through an NME blog, that Hole would be reforming, with her guitarist, Micko Larkin replacing Eric Erlandson. Melissa Auf der Maur is re-joining, also, however no drummer has been announced as of yet.

Health, drug abuse and legal issues

On October 2, 2003, Love was arrested in Los Angeles while breaking windows to enter the home of her boyfriend, manager and producer Jim Barber. Barber did not press charges (Love says she had paid for the home), but the police charged her with being under the influence of a controlled substance. Released on bail, four hours later Love was treated for an accidental overdose of OxyContin. Eight days later, on October 10, Frances Bean was taken by the L. A. County Department of Children and Family Services and placed with Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor.Authorities ordered a 72-hour hospital evaluation of Love’s health, but she walked from the facility, claiming she was ready to head to rehab. When Love didn’t attend, her lawyer said he may move to have the police department’s toxicology reports re-examined. In public appearances, Love protested her arrest, denying charges and describing the drugs found on her as “one expired Percocet and one Ambien”. The police, however, alleged possession of oxycodone and hydrocodone without prescription.She released her first solo album, America's Sweetheart, eight days earlier. The album was a commercial flop. Spin called it a “jawdropping act of artistic will”, Rolling Stone that, “for people who enjoy watching celebrities fall apart, America’s Sweetheart should be more fun than an Osbournes marathon.” The record was re-recorded and finished while Love was either fresh from or still undergoing drug rehab, and in its first three months sold about 86,000 according to Nielsen Soundscan.During this period, an estimated $20 million belonging to Love and her daughter was apparently siphoned off in a case still being investigated by the FBImarker. “It was my hell time. I was doing cocaine and had incredible financial trouble. $20 million was stolen from us and at the time I couldn’t do the math very well. So I took this drug to help me. It turned out the crazy math was real. The FBI looked at the paperwork and saw $1.2 million to the UK, $180,000 to Nice. It was the former boyfriend and the two assistants. They had power of attorney and they purchased property. They started in about 2000 without me knowing and I got more out of it. I think they thought she will die. In fact I should not be alive after what I went through in the Letterman period.”

British artist Stella Vine has frequently painted Courtney Love in works such as Courtney black cab (2004). Vine publicly defended Love and has said that her paintings depicting Love such as Courtney guilty were made during Love's trial when Vine felt Love was under attack by the media. Identifying with Love's life story, Vine said: "She's one of those people who are prepared to put the truth out, warts and all, even though you will be attacked for it.

After a state-enforced rehabilitation program and probation, Love regained custody of her daughter in January 2005. Child welfare authorities alluded to drug addiction when responding to the press, although they didn’t comment directly.

On August 19, 2005, Love admitted using drugs in violation of her probation. She was ordered into a 28-day treatment program by a judge who 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 six months in lock down rehab.

Love was released from house arrest on February 3, 2006, and said: “I would just like to thank the court for allowing me these 90 days... [It] helped me deal with a very gnarly drug problem, which is behind me... I’ve just been playing guitar and taking care of my daughter. I want to [take this opportunity] to let the community know I’m doing great... I’ve been really inspired and have remained inspired.” On July 2, 2007 she traveled to Europe with her band.

Pictures of an emaciated Love raised concern for her health in August 2007. Love claimed she "had to take care of my eating disorder." When more photos of Love appearing to be in ill health emerged in June 2008, a U.S. website wrote an "Open Letter to Courtney Love," pleading with the mother of Frances Bean to "wake up." Love admitted being suicidal following the theft of Cobain's ashes in her possession. On October 2, 2008, Love's publicist told that Cobain's ashes “were never taken” and that the story had been “erroneously reported ”.

America’s Sweetheart (2004)

In early 2004, as she had completed her first batch of songs, Love asked ex-Hole drummer Samantha Maloney to fly to France (after drummer Patty Schemel departed for the second time) and add drums to Love’s solo debut, America’s Sweetheart. Returning to the States, Maloney was put in charge of assembling Love’s live band. After auditions, Maloney reconnected with guitarist Radio Sloan, found guitarist Lisa Leveridge, bassist Dvin Kirakosian, and the four women formed the core of Love’s backing band. Violinist Emilie Autumn later joined the band.

Dirty Blonde and Nobody's Daughter (2005–present)

Love at a book signing November, 2006
In June 2005, three months after her release from drug rehabilitation, Love started recording her second solo LP, Nobody's Daughter. An anti-cocaine song entitled “Loser Dust”, as well as other new songs (“My Bedroom Walls”, “Pacific Coast Highway”, “Sunset Marquis”), were written during her time in rehab. Former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry is producing the record, which features the writing and recording collaboration of Billy Corgan.

Some of this album (initially planned for release in 2008) was on the Internet in 2006. The Return of Courtney Love, a documentary about the making of Nobody's Daughter, was filmed, written and produced by Will Yapp and aired on the British television network More4 on September 27, resulted in distribution of clips of some of its songs. The first entire song available for downloading was a rough acoustic version of “Never Go Hungry Again”, recorded during an interview for The Times in November. Incomplete audio clips of the song “Samantha”, originating from an interview with, were also distributed on the Internet in May 2007.

In October 2006 Love published a memoir, Dirty Blonde. Also in 2006, she reportedly sold 25% of Nirvana’s catalog for $50 million. Love claims $20 million was embezzled from her by members of her entourage, leaving her "on the verge of applying for food stamps."

Love’s new band consists of Patricia “Pato” Vidal (bass), Schoo Fisher (drums, formerly of Ozric Tentacles), (Also identified as "Stu" in a video interview on MySpace) Micko Larkin (guitar, formerly of Larrikin Love), Bethia Beadman (keyboards and background vocals), and Liam Wade (guitar).

She also collaborated with DJ Milky and Ai Yazawa to make the manga Princess Ai.

On June 1, 2007, Love made her stage comeback in a Linda Perry show at House of Blues in Los Angeles. With Perry and the producer’s backup band, she performed “Nobody’s Daughter”, “Sunset Marquis”, “Pacific Coast Highway” and “Letter to God”. On July 23, 2007, Love added the first song, "Dirty Girls", to her MySpace page, followed by a piano-and-vocal demo of “Sunset Marquis”, and in July 2008 with "Letter to God".

Love said in April 2007 that “I’m going to have a Christie’s auction,” to hock the bulk of Cobain’s belongings with a portion going to charity.

She has worked with photographer David LaChapelle, appearing on the cover of his book 'Heaven to Hell' depicting the pieta.

London & Co. filed a lawsuit against Love on July 22, 2008, claiming she sold Nirvana's publishing catalog without paying a share of the profits. The catalog was sold for $19.5 million and, according to an oral contract with Love, she had to share the 5% of her company The End of Music's earnings. London & Co. is seeking $975,000, which would have been its share of the sale.


Studio albums


Year Film Role Notes
1986 Sid and Nancy Gretchen
1987 Straight to Hell Velma
1988 Tapeheads Norman's spanker Uncredited
1996 Basquiat Big Pink
Feeling Minnesota Rhonda the Waitress
The People vs. Larry Flynt Althea Leasure Flynt Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Actress
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

1999 200 Cigarettes Lucy
Man on the Moon Lynne Margulies
2000 Beat Joan Vollmer Burroughs
2001 Julie Johnson Claire L.A. Outfest Award for Best Actress
2002 Trapped Cheryl
2005 Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal's Caligula Caligula Short film

As herself
Year Film Role Notes
1992 1991: The Year Punk Broke Herself
1996 Not Bad for a Girl Herself
1997 Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen’s Herself Uncredited
1998 Kurt & Courtney Herself
2000 Bounce: Behind the Velvet Rope Herself
2001 Last Party 2000 Herself
Crossover Herself
2003 Mayor of the Sunset Strip Herself
2004 (This Is Known As) The Blues Scale Herself
2006 The Return of Courtney Love Herself Channel 4 special


  1. Although some sources give Love’s birth name as “Love Michelle Harrison,” her listing on the California Birth Index from the Center for Health Statistics gives a birth name of “Courtney Michelle Harrison." Between adoptions from several stepfathers, she has also gone by the names “Courtney Michelle Rodriguez” and “Courtney Michelle Menely.” The name change to “Courtney Michelle Love” happened in early 1990s, in the beginning of her musical career and after the end of her first marriage (of which the legal records still feature the name “Courtney Michelle Menely”). According to the same statistics list above, the birth status of Courtney’s 1992 born daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, already include “Love” as the mother’s maiden surname.
  2. The Guardian: Sins of the mothers
  3. Brando Shocks Courtney Love
  4. Courtney Love Not Brando’s Granddaughter
  5. Courtney Love Biography (1964-)
  6. Courtney Love Part I
  7. Courting disaster October 22, 2006: "So you see, I’m a nice Jewish girl and I’ve lots of Irish in me."
  8. A qualified optimist
  9. Ancestry of Frances Bean Cobain
  10. Azerrad, Michael. Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday, 1994. ISBN 0-385-47199-8, p. 170
  11. Matheson, Whitney. “Pop Candy: Books I Read On Vacation” USA Today, November 27th, 2006. As revealed in her scrapbook, Dirty Blonde, Love was a teenage fan of the Bay City Rollers: “...from the collages of her favorite rockers (in her case, the Bay City Rollers), to scrawled lists of artists and things she yearned to learn more about to pages of poems and daydreams...”
  12. Rockland, Kate. “Don’t Call It a Comeback (Yet)”, New York Times, November 5th, 2006: “The book offers several gems; one is a 1976 rejection letter from the Mickey Mouse Club. ‘I read Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy,”’ Love says, ‘grinning widely.’”
  13. Iley, Chrissy. “Courting disaster” Times Online, October, 22nd, 2006. “‘I talked one of my mother’s gurus, of which she had many, into letting me live with him. He got $3,000 a month from my trust fund, which he’d spend on boys, and I went to the junior high, where my friends were teenage prostitutes. They were so glamorous, I just wanted to hang out with them. Melissa, Melinda and Melody. I ended up going through the juvenile system with them because I got arrested shoplifting a Kiss T-shirt.’ She was 13.”
  14. Nardwuar the Human Serviette vs Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen
  15. Barton, Laura. “Love me do”, Guardian Unlimited, December 11th, 2006: “She’s been a stripper...”
  16. Interview with Kat Bjelland. Edited by Liz Evans. Women, Sex and Rock’N’Roll: In Their Own Words. Rivers Orum Press/Pandora List, 1994.
  17. Ben Is Dead
  18. Pagan Babies
  19. Babes in Toyland Biography
  20. Hole is a Band; Courtney Love is a Soap Opera
  21. “Heavier Than Heaven,” page 201, biography by Charles R. Cross
  22. Barton, Laura. "Love me do", Guardian Unlimited, December 11, 2006: "They met in 1989 at an L7 concert, when they were both fledgling musicians with burgeoning drug addictions..."
  23. Azerrad, p. 172–173
  24. Azerrad, p. 172
  25. History of Women in Forest Lawn Lawn Cemetery: Kristen Pfaff
  26. []
  27. James Hunter reviews Celebrity Skin
  28. Entry for Celebrity Skin at Acclaimed Music
  29. Celebrity Hollywood News: Erlandson also declared that Patty
  30. Drown Soda: Fender Squier Vista Venus
  31. Hole Tones: The Secrets Of Celebrity Skin’s Smooth Sound
  32. “ / MTV news March 22, 1999”. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
  33. Courtney Love does the math” “an unedited transcript of Courtney Love’s speech to the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference, given in New York on May 16, 2000.”
  34. Sort The ‘Bastard’ Out
  36. Rocker Courtney Love Arrested, Hospitalized in LA
  37. Donegan, Lawrence. Sunday Magazine: LIVE THROUGH THIS. December 2003.
  38. Courtney Love Arrested After Allegedly Striking Fan With Mic Stand
  39. Rock star Love arrested after gig
  40. FOX News—Did Virgin Records Use Her?
  41. The Times Online
  42. [1], The Times. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  43. Courtney Love Part II.
  44. Nairne, Andrew and Greer, Germaine. Stella Vine: Paintings (Modern Art Oxford, 2007) ISBN 978-1901352344 [2]
  45. Mercer, Joseph. "GT Art: Stella Vine", Gay Times, pages. 46, 47, 48. February 2009 issue. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  46. Courtney Love Fighting For Custody Of Daughter Frances Bean
  47. Courtney Love Regains Custody Of Frances Bean Cobain
  48. Teary-Eyed Courtney Love Ordered Back To Rehab By Judge
  49. Courtney Is Cleared, Ready To Rock
  50. Some pictures were featured in the show "30 Best And Worst Beach Bodies". "Skeletal Courtney Love takes dieting to extreme," Daily Mail August 1, 2007
  51. "Courtney Love Lets It All Hang Out," June 20, 2008
  52. "Open Letter to Courtney Love," June 28, 2008
  53. "Kurt Cobain's ashes stolen," Guardian UK June 28, 2008
  54. Courtney Love Is ‘Nobody’s Daughter’
  55. Blood On The Tracks — Moonwashedrose’s September, 2006 Interview with Courtney Love
  56. Podcasts
  57. Rebuilding Courtney Love, One Song at a Time
  58. MySpaceTV
  59. Courtney Love to Sell Kurt Cobain's Possessions - Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain :

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