It’s safe to say that Courtney Love has lived an extraordinary life. A pivotal figure in the alternative scene of the 1990s, since then, Love has been hailed as one of the definitive queens of alt-rock – alongside the likes of Kim Gordon and Shirley Manson – and has been a significant influence on many budding female musicians making their way into rock ever since.
Notably, Love made her name as the frontwoman of Hole, an outfit that she formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1989. She’s a commanding frontwoman, guitar hero, and incisive lyricist, and duly, Hole are one of the most essential bands in the history of alt-rock, with much of this attributed to Love’s talent and somewhat complex personality.
However, we’d be lying if we claimed that Courtney Love was primarily known for her musical output. Love was awarded an unprecedented level of fame as the wife of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, but is more known for her often challenging behaviour. She gained notoriety for her antics during the ’90s, and since then, many elements of the media and music fans have vilified her character as she’s continued to be one of the most consistently astonishing figures in music.
One maintains that Love is a product of her environment. She was born to hippie parents in San Francisco in 1964, and had a childhood that was characterised by migration, although she was mainly raised in Portland, Oregon. As a teenager, she immersed herself in the local punk scene, and after being placed in the care of the state, she spent a year living in Dublin and Liverpool before returning to the US to attempt to launch an acting career.
Remarkably, Love appeared in minor roles in the pair of Alex Cox films, 1986’s Sid and Nancy and 1987’s Straight to Hell, before she formed Hole alongside guitarist Eric Erlandson. Things would quickly develop for Love and Hole, and their 1991 debut Pretty on the Inside, which was produced by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, was met with widespread acclaim, and made them one of the foremost acts of the grunge movement.
Hole would carry on this run of form, and 1994’s Live Through This and 1998’s Celebrity Skin, remain two of the most enduring alt-rock albums ever released. Running alongside her musical success was Love’s position as a constant fixture in the media. Even before Cobain’s death in April 1994, she was off seemingly the rails, and the media were willing to pounce on her at any opportunity. However, Love would fight back against the press, and it would be one of the biggest rivalries of the day.
One of the most insane clashes between Love and the media came in 1995. The story goes that Love had left a threatening voicemail for a Vanity Fair journalist, Lynn Hirschberg, after the writer had reported on Love’s alleged heroin use during pregnancy, which caused Love and Cobain’s daughter, Francis Bean, to be removed from their care by child protective services not long after her birth in 1992.
A few years later, the two crossed paths at 1995’s Vanity Fair Oscar Party, and Love was still so angry at the reporter that she was about to attack her. Enraged at the sight of the reporter, Love grabbed the nearest thing that she could use as a weapon, and it turned out to be director Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar statuette, which he had just won for the iconic Pulp Fiction.
Little is known about the scuffle, but one thing is sure, Hirschberg was lucky to escape, as no one comes between a mother and their baby, and you certainly don’t cross Courtney Love or her child. As for Tarantino, we’re sure he’s glad that his shiny Oscar wasn’t used as a murder weapon, no matter how fitting that would have been for an award relating to Pulp Fiction.