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Music

The troubling tales from Courtney Love's first marriage to a transvestite punk rocker

@TomTaylorFO

Born in San Francisco in 1964, Courtney Love was welcomed into the hippy world of the summer of love from the get-go. Her father, Hank Harrison, was even the road manager for the Grateful Dead of all people, so it seems almost fated that Love would eventually enter the rock ‘n’ roll industry. 

However, this world is far from a stable place for a child and after she spent her early years moving around the world never mind just the States, she started working as a dancer and taking drugs at the tragically tender age of 16. As Love told The Fix, “The first time I tried smack I was about 16, I guess. It was a horrific experience. At the time, I was working at a dance hall in Taiwan, trying to earn money, so I could afford an apartment in San Francisco,” she recalled.

Continuing: “I was utterly broke, so I was sleeping in a bed with a bunch of Brazilian dancers. I got crabs, and I had to get up every night to dance to Gloria Gaynor and Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel, Rebel’. After a while, I was like, ‘Get me the fuck out of here’.”

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When she did eventually return to America, she decided to make headway in the music industry. Ultimately, she would make this venture a success with Hole. The grunge band released their first single, ‘Retard Girl’ in 1990. One of the producers credited for the single is James Moreland (or Falling James as he is known). A few months before the release, Love’s marriage with Moreland was annulled after a mere three months together.

At the time when they met Moreland was the transvestite singer of the punk band The Leaving Train. While in Las Vegas together, Moreland dared Love to marry him and a few drunken moments later they were tying the knot. It would seem that wires were crossed thereafter as Moreland took the marriage seemingly seriously, whereas Love clearly did not. 

However, matrimony mix-ups aside, Moreland’s memories of their time together make for some very troubling reading. “She definitely has an evil side. She once tried to burn my bed when I was sleeping. A fire started and I woke up in shock,” the former punk rocker wrote in Courtney Love: The Real Story.

His disconcerting account continues: “It’s impossible to figure out Courtney’s motives. Her disdain was powerful, and she came off as a spoiled little snot… Courtney is a violent person who, even in the midst of our anonymous, crummy, poverty-stricken little marriage, threatened to have me beaten up for two hundred dollars when I didn’t do what she wanted. I was so scared of her I caved in immediately.”

It goes without saying that these are merely the accusations of one person, and they prove very difficult to corroborate, but the domestic violence that Moreland has alleged is certainly troubling to read. While Love herself has barely spoken of the marriage other than to say it was “the stupidest thing” she ever did, Moreland has continued to assert his dark accusations against her, fuelling the fire that this supposed behaviour was a portent of what was to come. 

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