Famous Like Me > Singer > L > Courtney Love
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Profile of Courtney Love
on Famous Like Me
|Also Know As:
||Love Michelle Harrison
|Date of Birth:
||9th July 1964
|Place of Birth:
||San Francisco, California, USA
Courtney Love (born Love Michelle Harrison on July 9, 1964 in San Francisco, California) was the singer for the now-defunct band Hole. Currently in and out of rehab and on the verge of losing custody of her daughter, Love is also an occasional model and actress. Love is the widow of Kurt Cobain (1967–1994), lead singer of the band Nirvana, with whom she has one daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.
The daughter of Grateful Dead manager and publisher Hank Harrison and therapist Linda Carroll, Love spent her childhood with her mother as she wandered through five 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 and has passed polygraph tests.
A troubled, angry child, 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 folowed in Liverpool by Julian Cope, the founder of 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.
Before Courtney Michelle Harrison assumed the artistic name "Courtney Love", it bears mentioning that 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". This band gigged around the Pacific Northwest in the late '80s and the release of these singles preceded Harrison's assumption of that name. 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. 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 two EPs but hailed from Olympia, Washington, where the "grunge" scene was also starting to take hold at about the same time as the "twee" scene.
Musical career and marriage
Love began her professional music career with a brief stint as the lead singer of Faith No More in the early 1980s. 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 bands biographer claims she stole house reciepts 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 once she learned she was pregnant.
She was often ridiculed in the press for her abrasive, sometimes erratic behavior, such as cursing at papparazzi 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 "fucking 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.
Life after Cobain
Love was a fashion trendsetter. In her early career, she modelled 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. Love's style has since evolved, and she has modelled 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, rumors have circulated that he was in fact murdered at Love's instigation. Countering the popular claim that Cobain had taken so much heroin before his death that he would not be able to hold a gun, director Nick Broomfield's 1998 documentary Kurt and Courtney interviewed forensic experts who claimed that Kurt Cobain was not actually intoxicated enough on heroin that he would not be able to hold a gun and shoot himself, showing a photo of a methadone addict on twice the amount. Conspiracy theorists point out that methadone is not heroin, and there is a furious debate over whether Cobain would have been too intoxicated or already dead, by the amount of heroin taken to fire a gun.
The unofficial and unendorsed (at least by Love's camp) documentary also featured people claiming to be Cobain's intimate friends who said the Cobains' marriage was on the rocks and that Kurt Cobain wanted a divorce, while others claimed Courtney wanted a divorce, while others still said Courtney wanted rid of him. One of these "insiders" was Love's own father, whom Love had severed ties with years earlier. Love has steadfastly denied these allegations.
The fact that Love's musical career skyrocketed after she married Cobain has fueled some speculation among Nirvana fans that it was in fact Cobain who wrote most of the songs featured on Live Through This, despite the fact that Hole's first album, Pretty on the Inside, was actually outselling Nirvana's "Bleach" when Kurt and Courtney met. Hole fans and Hole's lead guitarist Eric Erlandson deny this, explaining that he and Courtney were responsible for most of the melody and riffs, whilst fans point out that Pretty on the Inside (Hole's debut album) was written before interactions with Kurt Cobain and has a much "heavier sound," which proves the band's musicianship. Further accusations have been made that Billy Corgan wrote most of the songs for 1998's Celebrity Skin. At present, neither of these allegations have been officially made against Love in a court of law.
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, 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 effort 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, 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.
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.
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 0n September21she was sentenced to 6 moths in lock down rehab.
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 has discredited the story as "nonsense".
When Love lived in Japan, she became a fan of anime. She co-created a series called Princess Ai. Princess Ai features the character design of Ai Yazawa. Dialogue for Princess Ai's main character, Ai, is taken from Love's song lyrics.
Princess Ai: Volume I was released by TokyoPop in the United States on July 6, 2004.
- See Hole (band)
- America's Sweetheart (2004)
- Sid and Nancy (1986)
- Straight to Hell (1987)
- Tapeheads (1988)
- 1991: The Year Punk Broke (1992) (documentary)
- Basquiat (1996)
- Feeling Minnesota (1996)
- The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
- Not Bad for a Girl (1996) (documentary) (also co-producer)
- Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's (1997) (documentary)
- Kurt & Courtney (1998) (documentary)
- 200 Cigarettes (1999)
- Man on the Moon (1999)
- Beat (2000)
- Bounce: Behind the Velvet Rope (2000) (documentary)
- Julie Johnson (2001)
- Last Party 2000 (2001) (documentary)
- Trapped (2002)
- Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003) (documentary)
- (This Is Known as) The Blues Scale (2004) (documentary)
- Miss June (2005) (currently in production)
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