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(Credit: Courtney Love Instagram)


Timeline: Tracing the intense relationship of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love


Maybe Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were doomed from the start. Grunge’s most famous, and infamous, couple shared interests that included property damage, intensely personal lyric writing, and heroin. Not exactly the foundation for a healthy relationship.

They were also constantly in the public eye, leading to disputes with everyone from Axl Rose to Child Protective Services. They married only a few months after they started dating. Love at one point admitted that their daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, was an attempt to save the relationship. Both had emotional volatility and mental instability that would cause fights and occasional separations. The question isn’t really how did a short marriage end this quickly and this tragically, it’s how this marriage even survived two years.

The timeline that connects Cobain and Love is murky, with some of the most important events being subject to conjecture and debated by the people who were there. The courtship instantly changed both of their central figures’ lives, with Cobain taking on additional mental burdens and Love finding herself cast in a critical light from the music press.

Love herself has claimed that their peers tried to keep them apart. “Kim Gordon [of Sonic Youth] sits me down and says, ‘If you marry him your life is not going to happen, it will destroy your life,'” Love told The Guardian in 2006. “But I said, ‘Whatever! I love him, and I want to be with him!’ … It wasn’t his fault. He wasn’t trying to do that.” Despite the warnings, Cobain and Love continued on what would ultimately be a doomed relationship.

Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain were married for just over two years, during which time both experienced major professional highs and savagely personal lows. For Cobain, it was the increasing depression and ongoing medical ailments that saw him take his own life in 1994. For Love, it was having to live through her husband’s suicide and extreme attention brought to her in its wake. This is a timeline that reconstructs their two-year relationship, from their first meeting to their final days together.

A timeline of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s relationship:

January 21st, 1989 / January 12, 1990 / May 17th, 1991

Kurt Cobain meets Courtney Love

The exact date of when Cobain and Love first met is uncertain. According to Michael Azerrad’s 1993 biography Come As You Are, the two met at a Dharma Bums gig in early 1989 where Nirvana was the opening act. However, Charles Cross’ 2001 Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven states that the two met a year later at a Nirvana show. English writer Everett True disputes both these claims, claiming to have introduced the couple in May of 1991 at a concert with Butthole Surfers and L7.

In any case, Cobain had heard of Love through her role in the 1987 film Straight to Hell and Love had been aware of Cobain’s association with Nirvana before the two were formally introduced. Love seems to have been more interested in the relationship, with Cobain allegedly holding off her advances for a number of months.

Cobain and Love begin dating

Again, the exact dates of when Cobain and Love officially became a couple are up for debate. Cobain apparently broke off a number of planned dates and even ignored phone calls from Love for a while.

“I was determined to be a bachelor for a few months […] but I knew I liked Courtney so much right away that it was a really hard struggle to stay away from her for so many months,” Cobain is quoted as saying Come As You Are. In any case, Cobain and Love eventually made things official sometime in the last few months of 1991.

Late 1991
February 24th, 1992

Cobain and Love marry

In early 1992, Love found out she was pregnant. The pair decided to get married, which they did while Nirvana were still touring to support Nevermind. On February 24th, Cobain and Love wed on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Love wore a dress that had previously been owned by actress Frances Farmer, who would later be the namesake of both the couple’s daughter and the Nirvana song ‘Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle’. Cobain wore green flannel pyjamas, and only eight wedding guests were in attendance, one of whom was Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl.

Frances Bean Cobain is born

The early days of the couple’s relationship was marred by mutual drug use, but by the time Love learned she was pregnant, both had attempted to get clean. Cobain went on a binge shortly after their marriage, and Love struggled to stop using heroin. Their drug use was widely known and would create difficulties upon their child’s birth.

On August 18th, 1992, Love gave birth to the couple’s only child, Frances Bean Cobain. Only a few days later, Child Protective Services visited the couple to assess whether Frances was being raised in an unhealthy environment. Although the agents did nothing at the time, it wouldn’t be the couple’s final battle to keep Frances.

August 18th, 1992
September 1st, 1992

Pregnancy drugs…

Love’s feature in the September 1992 edition of Vanity Fair wound up being her most infamous interview. In it, she is quoted as saying that she and Cobain went on a drug binge after finding out she was pregnant. Upon publication, the article caused a public uproar, even though Love claims she was misquoted.

Child Protective Services once again investigated the couple, and custody was temporarily awarded to Love’s sister, Jaimee. Cobain and Love would soon pass drug tests and reclaim custody of their daughter, and for a few months, the relationship seemed relatively calm.

Cobain overdoses on heroin

Cobain was not able to successfully kick his heroin addiction and began using again shortly after reclaiming custody over Frances Bean. While preparing for a concert in New York during the summer of 1993, Cobain overdosed on heroin, not for the first time.

Love acted quickly and revived him herself with naloxone. Cobain took the stage with Nirvana shortly afterwards, but Cobain’s drug problems would persist.

July 23rd, 1993
September 2nd, 1993

Cobain and Love attend the MTV Video Music Awards

The biggest public moment featuring the Cobain family occurred when all three members attended the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards. Pictures were snapped on Love holding Frances and Cobain feeding her with a bottle.

That night, the pair got into a backstage fight with Axl Rose of Guns ‘N Roses. As a result, Dave Grohl mocked Rose from the stage after Nirvana’s performance of ‘Lithium’ and Cobain spat on a stage piano before Guns ‘N Roses were set to perform ‘November Rain’, not realising that Elton John would be performing on the instrument.

Cobain overdoses in Rome

Cobain was in a dark place as Nirvana were touring Europe in support of In Utero. During a break from the tour, Cobain and Love flew to Rome with guitarist Pat Smear, but On March 3rd, Cobain overdosed from a combination of Rohypnol and champagne.

Both Smear and Grohl recounted the incident in the documentary Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, with Grohl sharing that Cobain indicated that the overdose was a mistake. However, Love believes that it was Cobain’s first attempt at suicide.

March 3rd, 1994
April 5th, 1994

Cobain commits suicide

A number of events proceeded Cobain’s suicide in April: Love called Seattle police on March 18th claiming Cobain was suicidal. On March 25th, Love staged an intervention, and on March 30th, Cobain entered a rehab facility in Los Angeles. That was the last day he saw his daughter.

The next day, Cobain hopped the facility’s fence, caught a plane to Seattle, and returned to his house. Armed with heroin and a shotgun, Cobain took his own life on April 5th, with an electrician discovering his body three days later. It was the tragic end to Love and Cobain’s brief marriage.

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