Courtney Love

Occupation: Actress, Musician
Date of Birth: July 9, 1964
Place of Birth: San Francisco, Calif., USA
Sign: Sun in Cancer, Moon in Cancer
Relations: Husband: Kurt Cobain (deceased); ex-husband: James Moreland; daughter: Frances Bean; former companion: Edward Norton(actor); current companion: Jim Barber (music executive)


CRITICS of Courtney Love never fail to compare her to Yoko Ono  they claim she is a woman who was intent on gaining wealth and fame by latching on to a rock star, and in the process tore apart the group at the height of its success. While the Yoko comparison is certainly arguable, one thing is quite certain  Courtney Love was going to be a star, with or without Kurt Cobain.

Much has been said about Love's formative years, but little can be confirmed  mainly because Love is the main source of information, and she has made a game of telling tall tales to the press, and is consistent only in the practice of contradicting herself. We know that Love was born in San Francisco to Linda Carroll, a prominent therapist (her most famous client was reformed sixties radical Katherine Ann Power), and publisher Hank Harrison; Love spent much of her childhood in Oregon. By age twelve she had been sent to a juvenile-detention facility for shoplifting, and she declared herself an emancipated minor at sixteen. ("My Own Private Idaho is the story of my early adolescence," Love has said.) The rest is an intriguing stew of music, acting, travel, and stripping  spiced (and dulled) by drug use.

Love lived for a while off a trust fund from her maternal grandmother. She roamed the world, living at times in Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, and Liverpool. Back in the States, Love began singing in bands in the Bay Area. She sang for a group that would become Faith No More before heading to Los Angeles to pursue stardom. She caught the attention of director Alex Cox, who cast her as Nancy Spungen's best friend in Sid and Nancy, the story of the short, drug-addled lives of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy. Cox then cast her in Straight to Hell, a largely improvised punk rock tale that pretty much went straight to video. After her acting career fizzled, she moved to Minneapolis, where she hooked up with Kat Bjelland and started her first all-girls band, Babes in Toyland. She was kicked out of the band (Love says Bjelland has kicked her out of three bands), but had already developed what she has described as the "kinderwhore" look  white skin offset with bright red lips, bleached-blonde hair with black roots, and tight-fitting baby-doll dresses. She returned to Los Angeles for a short time before her trust fund ran out. She tried to get jobs stripping, but failed because she was "too fat," so she moved to Alaska where her bulbous frame was more appreciated by horny fishermen. (She says she quit stripping at one joint because they kept playing her old band Faith No More).

Love headed back for L.A. and formed her current band, Hole, in 1989. Their first album, Pretty on the Inside, was a modest hit (it outsold Nirvana's first album, Bleach, two-to-one) with listeners and critics. Major record labels took note and courted the band. At the same time, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was hitting big, and Love remembered Cobain from a stopover in Seattle. Taking advantage of the bidding war over her band, Love demanded to be flown to see Nirvana; her wish was granted, and Love set her sights on Cobain. After a short courtship, the two were married in 1992, and Love's identity in the rock world quickly changed from up-and-coming riot grrrl to Kurt Cobain's wife.

Whispers about the couple's drug use were common in the industry. After Vanity Fair reported that Love had used heroin while pregnant with their daughter, Frances Bean, things went rapidly downhill. Child protective services investigated the drug-use claims, and the Cobains' daughter was almost taken from them. After a year of acting like a happy new father, Cobain couldn't maintain the charade: he was spiraling into heroin abuse and depression and, ultimately, he took his own life with a shotgun blast to the head. Love read his suicide note on tape for mourners at a candlelight vigil, and encouraged them to call Cobain an "asshole" for what he had done. Hole's presciently titled album Live Through This was released a week after his death (the lyrics were also eerily prophetic: "I want to be the girl with the most cake/ I love him so much it just turns to hate/ I fake it so real, I am beyond fake/ And someday, you will ache like I ache"). Two months later, Hole's bassist Kristen Pfaff died of a heroin overdose.

The success of Live Through This may have provided some consolation. It went platinum, and was named record of the year by Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and Spin. Love's flamboyant manner and raucous stage presence attracted attention. Her on-stage antics have included at one time or another cutting herself, berating her audience, performing simulated fellatio on fans, and stage-diving into the mosh pit where fans have torn off all of her clothes. She usually performs extremely drunk, although some say it's just part of her act. She has assaulted fans, and she once attacked Katherine Hanna of Bikini Kill. As a result, Love was subjected to a court order to refrain from violence and attend anger-management classes.

Personal tragedy hasn't kept Love down, however, and the widow's love life is not lacking; since Cobain's death in 1994, Love has been linked to rockers Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, actor Edward Norton, and, currently, music executive Jim Barber. She has a burgeoning acting career outside the recording studio, with roles in Feeling Minnesota and Basquiat, a Golden Globe-nominated turn in director Milos Forman's The People vs. Larry Flynt, and a role in Man on the Moon, Forman's 1999 biopic of late comedian Andy Kaufman, to her credit. Though some will always see her as opportunistic spotlight seeker, it's clear that, whatever she is, Courtney Love is no Yoko.

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