|Photo by Stephen Eckert|
Born Courtney Michelle Harrison In San Francisco, Love had an unstable childhood and adolescence. She is the daughter of Linda Carroll, a therapist, and Hank Harrison, a publisher. According to Love, her mother named her after the alcoholic, fledgling debutante protagonist of a 1956 "dime-store novel" called Chocolates for Breakfast by Pamela Moore.
Love's family were part of the burgeoning hippie scene of the 1960s. She would discover, in later years, that her biological grandmother was novelist Paula Fox and her great-grandmother was Cuban-born screenwriter Elsie Fox.
Courtney wanted to be a musician from an early age. At age 16, Love escaped the Oregon juvenile system and gained legal emancipation from her family. She subsequently traveled to England and Ireland, living on a trust fund established for her by her mother's adoptive parents, worked as a photographer for Hot Press, and began taking jobs in strip clubs to make extra money. Love returned to Portland at age 17, still pursuing music, and became part of the city's punk rock scene.
Though still a minor, Love returned to work as an exotic dancer in various venues in Portland, lying to club owners in order to get jobs. With her income from stripping, she was able to rent an apartment in Northwest Portland with two of her friends. Between 1980 and 1982, she frequently traveled up and down the West Coast in search of local music scenes, and while doing so, adopted the name Courtney Love.
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Courtney's big break came when she founded Hole in 1989 with Eric Erlandson after earlier unsuccessful attempts at forming bands. In January 1989, Love had her first encounter with Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in Portland at the Satyricon nightclub, where she had often hung out in her teenage years. Cobain and his band, Nirvana, who were still relatively underground at the time, were playing at the club that night.
Cobain passed by a booth where Love was seated with a friend, and she blurted to him, "You look like Dave Pirner" (lead singer of Soul Asylum). The two purportedly playfully wrestled on the floor in front of a jukebox that night, but Love left the club before Cobain did. Eventually, through mutual friends and other chance encounters, Love and Cobain began dating in 1991, and were married in 1992. They gave birth to their only daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, in August 1992.
The marriage between Love and Cobain lasted up until 1994; Cobain was experiencing immense success with his band Nirvana, and Love was in the studio recording Hole's second album, Live Through This. In April 1994, Cobain was found dead in the couple's Seattle home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Hole released several successful albums in the 1990s, debuting with Pretty on the Inside, an underground noise rock hit which was especially popular in the United Kingdom. The band followed with two acclaimed albums, Live Through This and Celebrity Skin. Love also starred in several films throughout the '90s, most notably The People Vs. Larry Flynt, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination.
Hole officially disbanded in 2002, and Love became a media spectacle in the latter part of the decade due to a series of legal troubles and battles with drug addiction, largely amidst the release of her first solo album.
In 2007, Love cleaned up her image and announced her sobriety after a lengthy court-ordered rehab, and began working on a fifth album. In 2009, Love reformed Hole with new members, and released the group's fourth album, Nobody's Daughter in April 2010.
Some songs from the sessions with Linda Perry and Billy Corgan are on the album, including "Pacific Coast Highway," "Letter to God," "Samantha," and "Never Go Hungry." The first single from Nobody's Daughter was "Skinny Little Bitch," which was the most added song on alternative rock radio in early March 2010.
|Photo by Tom Edwards|
Love has also attracted significant media attention over the years for her wild stage performances and subversive feminism. Though a controversial figure, Love has, in recent years, been taken note of for her contributions to rock music, particularly as a female performer, and is often considered a gay icon. Rolling Stone once called Love "the most controversial woman in rock history."
In 2011, Love was elected a Non-Executive Officer For Rock 'N' Roll by the Oxford University Conservative Association.