Courtney Love has lived a life of fantastical proportions. One of the key players of the 1090s alternative rock scene, since the halcyon days of the movement, she’s been lauded as one of rock’s ultimate queens, perched at the top of the pile alongside the likes of Patti Smith and Kim Gordon. Fittingly, Love has been a defining influence on a whole host of musicians ranging from Lana Del Rey to The Cribs.
Love is best known for her work as the frontwoman of Hole, the band she formed alongside guitarist Eric Erlandson in Los Angeles in 1989. A commanding performer, guitar hero, and sharp lyricist, it was her presence that made Hole stand out from the crowd, with her multi-faceted personality giving the band their fire.
However, to say that Love is only famous for her musical work wouldn’t be entirely truthful. Love’s rise to the top was aided by her marriage to the late Nirvana mastermind Kurt Cobain, and heightened by her tempestuous nature. The stories of Love’s antics are infamous, and for a time, she and the media were at war, with the latter often unfairly vilifying her at every opportunity. Regardless, Love has continued on her voyage, and if anything, has been emboldened by the obstacles she has faced.
It’s a fair assertion that Love is the product of the environment she grew up in. Born into a hippie family in San Francisco in 1964, she experienced much transience as a child but came to call Portland, Oregon, her home. Always possessing an open mind, when she was a teenager, she was fully ensconced in the local punk scene, and when of age, she lived in both Dublin and Liverpool before she returned to America in an attempt to become a successful actor.
Notably, Love’s acting credits boasted minor appearances in Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy and Straight to Hell before she’d even formed Hole. After the band’s 1991 debut Pretty on the Inside dropped and was met with great acclaim, she pursued music with all her might, producing classics such as 1994’s Live Through This and 1998’s Celebrity Skin. However, running alongside her great musical success was her position as a constant fixture in the media, and often this was for embarrassing reasons. One of the most memorable came in 1995 at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards.
What started the incident was MTV’s Kurt Loder interviewing Madonna about her win at that year’s ceremony, then, only a couple of minutes into the conversation, a makeup compact flew over Madonna and interrupted the discussion. Very quickly, Loder spotted that it was Courtney Love that had thrown the projectile, and what ensued is one of the most awkward interactions in music history.
Loder asked Madonna if they should invite the Hole bandleader up to where they were sitting, to which she responded “no, don’t please”, before he beckoned her up anyway. Drunken, as she was on her way to intrude, Love threw another compact, and as she neared, Madonna quipped: “Courtney Love is in dire need of attention right now”. Nobody, let alone Madonna and Loder, could believe what was happening, and before they knew it, Love was sitting next to the two.
An excruciating encounter followed. Love explained that she had interrupted on a separate occasion, to which she and Madonna had a truly awkward conversation as they touched on Alanis Morissette. It was here that Love claimed Madonna was rude about her, which the popstar flatly denied. For the remaining few minutes it was a tangential discussion, and at one point, Love suddenly got off her seat to kneel on the floor, giving Loder his seat back.
Remarkably, the meeting ended moderately well. Before Madonna departed, she kissed the inebriated Love goodbye before swiftly exiting the scene, leaving the poor and confused Loder to pick up the pieces, with an equally as bewildered Love still knelt on the floor. Those who watched the interview live will remember the ending when Madonna departed, and Love shouted at her from the balcony: “Did I bum you out? Are you pissed at me?”
Although many of us might have thought that there would be residual bad blood between Love and Madonna afterwards, there wasn’t. At the 1997 Maverick Party, the pair were pictured hanging out and having the best of times, and even though they’re not close friends, they’re also not enemies, a rarity for Courtney Love.