Courtney Love is “an avenging punk-rock angel with a barbed lyrical tongue and skewered as a drug-fueled opportunist.” That’s how Rolling Stone described her in a December 1994 interview.
The Hole front woman has a storied past. She was born Courtney Michelle Harrison in 1964 to a psychotherapist mother and a father with loose ties to the early Grateful Dead. She spent her childhood living with her mother and various family members and friends, bouncing around various hippie communes in Oregon, and attending schools in New Zealand and Europe. Her childhood also included a stint in juvenile detention for stealing.
At 16, Courtney legally emancipated from her parents. She then used a trust fund established by her grandparents to travel to Europe. She eventually made her way back to Portland, Oregon to pursue music. She was part of several bands in the early 1980s before teaching herself how to play guitar. After moving to Los Angeles in 1988, she took out an ad in a local music magazine looking to start a band. Hole formed in 1989.
Hole’s album Pretty on the Inside debuted in 1991 to mixed but mostly positive reviews. The band then released Live Through This in 1994. But it was 1998’s Celebrity Skin, peaking on the U.S. Billboard 200 at No. 9, that garnered Hole mass critical acclaim – and three Grammy nominations, including Best Rock Album. It has since sold more than 1.4 million copies.
Courtney released a fourth album with Hole, Nobody’s Daughter, in 2010, which she funded entirely. It was a commercial flop, selling only 33,000 copies in its first three weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times music blog Pop & Hiss.
Along with her musical talents, Courtney has serious acting skills. After various small bits, she landed the role of Althea Leasure in 1996’s The People Vs. Larry Flynt. The role earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama.
She went on to land leading roles in Man on the Moon and Trapped. More recently, Courtney landed guest spots on several popular TV series: Sons of Anarchy, Empire and Revenge.
In fall 1991, Courtney infamously began dating Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain. The two married in 1992 in Honolulu, Hawaii – Courtney wearing a costume dress and Kurt wearing green pajamas. Their daughter Frances Bean was born later that year.
Courtney and Kurt both suffered from drug addiction, with Courtney abusing heroin, cocaine, and various opiates. Kurt infamously committed suicide in April 1994, leaving Courtney alone with their toddler daughter. She continued to struggle with addiction after Kurt’s death. She served multiple stints in rehab before finally becoming sober in 2007.
Courtney dated her People Vs. costar Edward Norton from 1996 to 1999. She’s also been linked romantically to several others, including actor Steve Coogan and manager/producer Jim Barber.
Rocky relationships seem to follow Courtney. She’s gone against Kurt’s former band mates Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl over a number of different issues, including disagreement over previously unreleased Nirvana material and the release of a box set. She also has had a tumultuous relationship with daughter Frances Bean, who legally emancipated from her in 2009.
The celebrity skin has not been easy on Courtney Love. “I wanted to be famous because I thought, in the light, they’ll be fair to me,” she told Vanity Fair in 2011. “I prayed to God I could grow up and be famous because then they’ll be fair to me. Fair to me? Ha.”