Hate to Love or Love to Hate? Courtney Love’s Wild Life

“It’s no secret that society often finds loud, messy, unapologetic women threatening to the status quo.”

The truth is, whether we hate to love her or even love to hate her (is there even a difference?), we just can’t take our eyes off Courtney Love. It’s like watching a train wreck – who’s gonna look away? Sure, that’s not the nicest thing to say about a person.

Courtney Love / Courtney Love / Courtney Love / Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love.
Source: Getty Images

But let’s be honest. Love has chosen to be in the spotlight and seems to relish in her headline-making wild ride of a life. She’s been making noise – be it her music or her behavior – since the mid-‘80s, and to this day, in her late 50s, she winds up in the news for some wacky thing she did or said.

So, without further ado, ladies and gentleman, here’s a list of all the weird, outlandish, and simply foolish things Courtney Love has done (in no particular order).

She Set Her Apartment on Fire

Love was renting out a luxury townhouse in Greenwich Village, but her landlord wasn’t happy. Love was already $54,000 behind on her rental payments (two months behind on her $27,000 per month rental). On the verge of eviction, Love took it to the extreme. How? Well, she burned down the house.

Love attends an event.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

In December 2011, she started a fire in her bedroom, leading the fire department to come and put it out. By then, the flames had spread to the curtains and bed. The landlord went ahead and evicted Love after determining that the damage totaled about $100,000.

Love accidentally started a fire in the same apartment earlier that year in June. She claimed it was a candle that set it off. But…who knows?

She Attacked Her Boyfriend (and Manager) at His House

In October 2003, during the wee hours of the morning, Love paid a visit to the Los Angeles home of her boyfriend and manager, Jim Barber. And she made her daughter, Frances Cobain, come with her. At the house, Love had a fit when she saw another woman in the house.

A headshot of Love walking the street.
Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

She started smashing windows, trying to break in, screaming that she would burn the house down. (I’ll huff and I’ll puff.) Barber’s own kids were home at the time. The police eventually came, detained her, and discovered she was under the influence. A few hours later, she was in the emergency room for a potential drug overdose from Oxycontin.

One Year Later, She Attacked the Girlfriend

In October 2004, a year after the last attack on the house, Love made another visit to the Barber household. This time, after breaking into her now ex-boyfriend’s home, she saw Kristin King, Barber’s then-girlfriend. King had been sleeping on the couch in the living room when Love saw her.

A photo of Courtney Love at the courthouse.
Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage/Getty Images

So, she picked up a whiskey bottle and dumped the alcohol on King. She then threw a lit candle at the woman, sat on her, and dug her nails into King’s skin. “She was very aggressive, angry, just vicious,” King later stated. Love pled guilty to the “misdemeanor assault,” received three years of probation, and was forced to compensate King.

She Got Arrested as Soon as the Plane Landed in London

Love has been known to cause a ruckus on flights. One time was at Heathrow Airport in February 2003 which ended in an arrest. She entered a fit of rage when a friend of hers wasn’t allowed to sit with her in first class during a flight from LA to London.

A photo of Love leaving the police station.
Photo by Sean Dempsey/PA Images/Getty Images

She caused a major disruption which happened to be serious enough to prompt the captain to request that police meet them when they landed. In England, she was led off the plane and into a waiting police car. She had flown there for a charity event, and after a few hours of questioning, she was released without being charged.

A Frequent Flyer or a Frequent Fighter?

Something similar happened in 1995 when Love was on a flight on Qantas. She had been asked to remove her feet from the window next to her first-class seat. Obviously, Love refused and asked those sitting close to her if her feet were offending anyone.

An image of Courtney Love fighting.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

Still, she was threatened with arrest, to which Love responded by saying, “You are one mean f*cking stewardess.” And whaddayaknow, she was arrested upon arrival. Not only that, she was strip-searched and charged with intimidating flight crew and endangering the aircraft. She was put on two days of airport detention (whatever that is) and slapped with a $500 fine.

She Crashed Madonna’s VMA Interview

Remember this? Back in 1995, while Madonna was being interviewed at the MTV VMAs, interviewer Kurt Loder was interrupted by some random yelling in the background. When he realized that it was Courtney Love, he welcomed her to join him and Madonna.

A photo of Love on stage.
Photo by Brenda Chase/Stringer/Getty Images

Love, evidently wasted, was eager to join. But instead of participating in the interview, she really just went on an incoherent rant while Madonna occasionally dismissed her unwanted co-star. We can only be glad that all of it was caught on camera and goes down as some of the weirdest behavior in MTV history.

She Attacked a Journalist With Tarantino’s Oscar

1995 was a wild year for this wild woman. It makes sense, too, considering it was the year after her husband died (was killed? – we’ll get to that soon). Anyway, Lynn Hirschberg was a Vanity Fair journalist who wrote a piece that claimed Love had used heroin while she was pregnant.

A photo of Love arriving at the Annual Academy Awards.
Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Love was candid and public about her anger over the accusation (which she insisted was false). Later, when she came face-to-face with Hirschberg at an Oscars after party, she did what she does best: she unleashed her inner dragon. Love grabbed the nearest thing around her – Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar – and made her attack.

Twenty Years Later, She Fessed Up

The anger and hostility regarding the pregnancy rumor? Yeah, that was basically because it was true. Love later admitted to having used heroin during her 1992 pregnancy – the pregnancy that resulted in her and Cobain’s daughter, Frances.

Frances attends an event.
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Hirschberg’s article mentioned that Love was using for “a couple of months” while expecting. It took 20 years, but the real truth came out in the 2015 documentary about Cobain, Montage of Heck. In it, Love fessed up, but she insisted that she only used once – not for months.

She Lashed Out Against a Nirvana Fan

During a 2011 show, when Love was performing with her band Hole, someone in the crowd held up a picture of Kurt Cobain. Was it to honor the legend or taunt the woman many believed killed him? Who knows, but it was a bad move either way.

A video still of Love during the incident.
Source: YouTube

Love called the fan “stupid” and “rude,” threatening to “beat the f*ck” out of the fan. She then took the opportunity to diss Dave Grohl, her longtime feuding partner. “You weren’t kicked out of a band by Kurt like Dave was… if you want to do that shit go to a Foo Fighters concert!” She then gave the finger to the crowd and stormed off.

She Accused Dave Grohl of Hitting on Her Daughter

Speaking of Dave Grohl, Love accused the former Nirvana bandmember of hitting on her own daughter. In 2012, Love took to Twitter to say that she had heard Grohl was hitting on Frances. “I’m not mad at her,” she wrote online. “Him, I’m about to shoot, dead.”

Dave Grohl speaks to the media.
Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Frances later intervened on social media, issuing a statement denying her mom’s claims. She called the whole thing “gross,” writing that “Twitter should ban my mother.” Days later, Love apologized to Francis, also through Twitter (can they not just pick up the phone?), saying, “Bean, sorry I believed the gossip. Mommy loves you.” Yes, Bean is Frances’ middle name.

She (Apparently) Killed Her Daughter’s Pets

Frances is probably used to hearing apologies from her mom. One major upset was in 2009, when Frances filed a request for a restraining order against her own mom – to not come close to her or her pets. She claimed that her cat died after being trapped in boxes of papers, garbage and all kinds of clutter that she said was being hoarded in the house.

Frances Bean Cobain attends an event / Frances Bean embraces her dog.
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images

And then another one of Frances’ pets, her dog Uncle Fester, died consuming substantial amounts of pills that her mom had causally left around the house. So basically, the dog OD’ed on Love’s pills. The request for the restraining order was granted.

A Bikini Wax, Champagne, and Streaking

What? Yes. In 2010, Love was on a mission to make a comeback in the industry, even if it meant doing the most bizarre things. This time, she invited some journalists from Q magazine to her home to spend time with her and ultimately put together a story worth printing.

Courtney walks the street at night.
Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage/Getty Images

Surprise, surprise – they got more than they bargained for or even expected. Love got herself a Brazilian wax right in front of them; she then proceeded to pour a bottle of champagne over herself during a photo shoot and ran naked down the street. This stuff just can’t be made up.

Did Courtney Love Kill Kurt Cobain?

Yes, that question is still being typed into Google all the time. For the record, Cobain committed suicide on April 5, 1994. BUT rumors haven’t stopped circulating that it may not have been suicide at all. Not just some – but many people – have pointed the finger at dear old Courtney Love for killing one of the greatest musicians who ever lived.

A dated picture of Frances, Courtney Love, and Kurt Cobain attending an event.
Photo by Terry McGinnis/WireImage/Getty Images

Many suspect Love was somehow involved in Cobain’s death. Supposedly, he was on the verge of divorcing her when he passed. The kicker: Love stood to inherit a lot of money from her husband’s death.

Her Own Private Investigator Says Yes

Still, these are just rumors. Love has repeatedly denied any involvement in her husband’s death. She’s done – and admitted to – some pretty crazy things. But killing her husband? Even if she were guilty, she would probably take that one with her to the grave.

A headshot of Courtney Love.
Photo by Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic/Getty Images

It turns out that it’s not just diehard Nirvana fans (or Hole haters) who believe that she was involved. Tom Grant, a private investigator who was even hired by Love herself when Cobain disappeared from a rehab facility right before his suicide, said, “Love was involved in a conspiracy in the death of Kurt Cobain.”

Her 2015 Instagram Post About Cobain Was Pretty Haunting

Love posted a photo on Instagram, showing her younger self with Cobain and their then-infant daughter. She captioned the photo with, “Makes me feel so bad. Our baby is all grown up now. Jesus Kurt, look at her face, what on earth were you thinking…!?!? God, I miss you, we all miss you #family #memories #turnbacktime #lovehim”

An image of Cobain and Love sitting in bed.
Source: Pinterest

Soon enough, the Courtney Love haters started flooding her comments and inbox. Most of the comments revolved around the theory that she killed Cobain. Things like “Judgement Day will come” or “Murderer” were popping up.

She Lost Custody of Frances Three Times

The first time was in 1992, when Frances was a newborn. The accounts of Love using heroin during her pregnancy prompted LA Protective Services to take the baby out of their home for a brief period of time. The investigation was then dropped, and Frances was returned to Love.

A photo of Love walking through a security check in a courthouse.
Photo by Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Then, in 2003, after Love was arrested for attacking her manager’s home, the courts ordered temporary custody of Frances to Kurt Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor. Two years and several legal battles later, Love was legally reunited with her daughter. The last time was in 2009, when Frances got that restraining order for the whole dead pets’ ordeal.

Apparently, She Lives on Drugs, Sugar, and Cigarettes

According to Frances, her mom has been existing on a diet that most people wouldn’t last long on. “She has taken drugs for as long as I can remember,” Frances reported. “She basically exists now on… Xanax, Adderall, Sonata and Abilify, sugar and cigarettes.”

Courtney Love attends an event.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Adding to the laundry list of “meds” is the fact that Love “rarely eats” and “often falls asleep in her bed while she is smoking… I am constantly worried that she will start a fire (which she has done at least three times) that will threaten our lives.” Well, that explains it.

She Blew the Whistle on Britney Spears’ Father

In 2009, Love nearly broke the internet again with one of her incoherent posts. This time it was on Facebook and this time it wasn’t even about her own life. She alleged that Spears’ father molested his daughter. Her post was as follows:

A picture of James Spears and Lynne Spears at the airport.
Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

“Britney’s dad molested her, imagine the father that molested you owning you for slavery while your [sic] forced to sing songs picked for their sexual content every night, insane right? i have it on First hand authority, and fight as hard as she is and does she still didn’t pull that card, its [sic] a pride thing i can relate to…” The post was dismissed by Spears’ reps shortly after.

She Flashed David Letterman Multiple Times

Before the world went online, Love was making heads turn in good old fashioned TV appearances. In March 2004, she went on Late Night With David Letterman and it’s likely that everyone there knew something scandalous was about to happen.

A video still of Love on Late Night With David Letterman.
Source: YouTube

During her segment with Letterman, she exposed her breasts, on camera, over six times (when Drew Barrymore did the same thing, it was only once). She then stood on his desk and gave him a closer look at her chest before breaking into song (“Danny Boy”). Letterman’s reaction to her: “Very sweet of you. We are going to lose our liquor license.”

Another Attack Against an Audience Member

It seems like Love’s erratic behavior comes in bursts (who knows, maybe she’s undiagnosed, but we won’t get into that). On March 18, 2004, the same night she flashed Letterman, she was also arrested. The offence? Throwing a microphone stand into her audience at a nightclub, which resulted in an injury.

A photo of Love’s arrest.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage/Getty Images

People there reported that the incident seemed unintentional, but still… The person injured needed three staples to his head and decided to press charges of reckless endangerment and third-degree assault. Love pled to the misdemeanor – something she’s quite familiar with.

She and Cobain Lived in Filth

When Nirvana’s first album came out, Love and Cobain were living in Los Angeles in a modest two-bedroom apartment. But modest is a bit deceiving. The apartment was downright filthy. Cobain spent all of his time composing songs, while Love was pregnant and doing… well… you know.

A dated image of Cobain and Love during a party.
Photo by Lindsay Brice/Getty Images

You would think that these two rock stars had been living a rock star life, but once photographs surfaced years later, people understood what it really was like behind closed doors. They left the apartment filled with trash, all kinds of drug paraphernalia, and words written and painted on the walls. They were apparently living in chaos.

She Would Shoot Up at Charlie Sheen’s House

The ‘90s was an “anything goes” kind of decade. And when it comes to Sheen and Love, there’s no wonder they became fast friends. Hell, it’s a shocker they never dated. But anyways, Love revealed that her addiction to heroin began one night at the actor’s mansion.

A picture of Charlie Sheen.
Photo by PALACE LEE/Future Publishing/Getty Images

“A Hollywood-connected beau took me to this star-studded party at Charlie Sheen’s house in Malibu,” Love recalled. “Tom Cruise was there, and Madonna … Jennifer Lynch convinced me to shoot up. ‘Come on, everyone’s doing it.’ So that’s when my whole heroin drama began.”

She Accused the Muppets of What?

Remember when The Muppets made a movie in which they covered Nirvana’s classic hit, Smells Like Teen Spirit? Well, Love wasn’t a fan. And what that really means is that she was furious. She claimed that she never gave permission (she has the rights to Nirvana’s music) for them to use the song.

A photo of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog during a press conference.
Photo by Stephanie Pilick/picture alliance/Getty Images

It was later exposed that the company Primary Wave has rights to distribute the song and they approved the use for The Muppets movie. Even Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana’s surviving members) gave the green light. Love made her disappointment known. The Muppets, she said, had “raped” the memory of Kurt Cobain.

She Grew Up in Total Hippiedom

To understand why Courtney Love is the way she is, a little bit about her past might help put the pieces together. For one, her parents were total hippies. Love’s early years were spent in San Francisco (she was born in 1964) at the peak of Haight-Ashbury hippiedom. In fact, her dad, Hank Harrison, was a road manager for the Grateful Dead.

A picture of Courtney Love as a child.
Source: Pinterest

Her parents eventually divorced, after her psychotherapist mom, Linda Caroll (as well as Harrison’s girlfriend) accused him of dosing their toddler, Love, with LSD. If there’s anything that explains Love, it’s that she was already in therapy by the time she was two.

She’s Convinced That Marlon Brando Is Her Grandpa

Love’s mom Linda is the biological daughter of author Paula Fox, who gave her daughter up for adoption. Linda learned later on that when she was conceived, Fox was living with acting coach Stella Adler. Also living with Adler was the then-unknown actor Marlon Brando.

A photo of Marlon Brando.
Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

Neither Adler nor Brando ever confirmed or denied his paternity, but Love has always considered the theory “very probable.” Fox, for the record, was not a fan of Love. “She’s awful, she’s awful. She’s terrible!” the author told The Observer in 2013. “I met with her for an hour, and the hour was like an hour in the devil’s pocket, for both of us.”

Raised in a Gender-Free Household

After leaving San Fran with her mom, they lived in a hippie commune in Oregon. Linda remarried to a man named Frank Rodríguez, who legally adopted Love. He and Linda had two daughters together and a son who died in infancy (of a heart defect) when Love was ten. They then adopted a boy.

An image of Love and her mother attending an event.
Photo by SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images

The home was the furthest thing from conventional, mostly due to her mom’s ways. “There were hairy, wangly-ass hippies running around naked doing Gestalt therapy,” Love recalled. Linda also raised her kids in a gender-free household with “no dresses, no patent leather shoes, no canopy beds, nothing.”

Kicked Out of an All-Girls School

Love went to a Montessori school in Eugene, Oregon, where she struggled both academically and socially. By the age of nine, one particular psychologist noted that Love was showing signs of autism. In the early ‘70s, Linda divorced Frank and moved the family to New Zealand.

A photo of Love in a courtroom.
Photo by Lucy Nicholson-Pool/Getty Images

There, Love went to at an all-girls school, but was soon expelled for bad behavior. That’s when Love was sent back to Oregon to live with her stepfather, Frank, and other family friends. Obviously, the troubled teen was going to start acting out.

She Was in Jail at 14 but Left Inspired

At 14, Love was arrested for shoplifting from a department store in Portland even held in a juvenile jail. Funny enough, it was in the Hillcrest Correctional Facility that Love started listening to Patti Smith records, as well as the Runaways and the Pretenders.

A picture of Love attending an event.
Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

These punk bands inspired her to start her own group. Up until she was legally emancipated from her parents in 1980, Love went from foster home to foster home. She was then dedicated to remaining estranged from her mom.

She Was a Stripper in Japan

Love likes to change her story quite a bit. Some sources say she was stripping at 18, but Love admitted that it was really at 15 or 16. She also said that she danced in Oregon, Alaska, and even Japan. Part of her act, apparently, was cutting herself with a blade.

Courtney Love drags herself on the floor backstage to a show.
Photo by Catherine McGann/Getty Images

Some sources say that Love spent two months in Japan as a topless dancer but was deported when her passport was confiscated. She then returned to Portland and worked at a strip club called Mary’s Club. There she changed her last name to Love (from Harrison), to conceal her identity.

She Was a DJ in a Gay Disco

Love was going from odd job to odd job and wound up in a gay disco working as a DJ for a while. She said she lacked social skills and learned a lot from gay men and drag queens. According to Love, had she not found a passion for music, she would have been working with children.

An image of Love performing on stage.
Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images

In 1981, Love went to Dublin, Ireland, where her biological father was living. She studied theology there for two semesters. More importantly, she met musician Julian Cope (of the Teardrop Explodes) at one of their concerts.

Love and the Bunnymen

Cope became a mentor to Love and let her stay with him in Liverpool. In London, she met a friend and future bandmate, Robin Barbur, who was also from Portland. Love and Barbour moved in with Cope and several other artists, including Pete de Freitas of Echo & the Bunnymen.

A dated image of Courtney Love.
Source: Pinterest

“They kind of took me in. I was sort of a mascot; I would get them coffee or tea during rehearsals,” Love described. By 1982, Love was back in the US and at a Faith No More concert she convinced the band to let her join as a singer.

Her First, Brief, “Poverty-Stricken” Marriage

Love was married before Cobain came into the picture. She had a brief marriage to the lead singer of The Leaving Trains Falling, James Moreland. It looks like neither he nor Love look back fondly on their early marriage. “She definitely has an evil side,” he said.

A dated photo of Courtney Love and James Moreland.
Source: Pinterest

“She once tried to burn my bed when I was sleeping. A fire started and I woke up in shock.” Courtney Love, the apparent pyromaniac. “It’s impossible to figure out Courtney’s motives…. even in the midst of our anonymous, crummy, poverty-stricken little marriage, [she] 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.”

Her 15 Minutes With Andy Warhol

It’s easy to forget that Love had a stint acting. She was introduced to famed artist Andy Warhol by none other than Blondie’s Debbie Harry. Love, in her pre-plastic body, was featured on art icon’s MTV show, Fifteen Minutes, in 1987.

A portrait of Andy Warhol.
Photo by Brownie Harris/Corbis/Getty Images

He knew of Love from her roles in Sid and Nancy and Straight to Hell. Love later claimed she hated the attention (mmm, hard to believe) and went back to Oregon, then to Alaska, to fade into anonymity. At least for a while. Less than a year later, she was back in LA putting a band together.

Columbia Pictures vs. Courtney Love

Love went back to acting in 1996 and she did so with a bang. After a few small roles in Basquiat and Feeling Minnesota, she starred as Larry Flynt’s wife, Althea, in The People vs. Larry Flynt. The director, Milos Forman, insisted that she go through rehab and quit heroin.

Courtney Love poses on fur in a scene from the film.
Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

If she wanted to be in the film – and she desperately did – she would have to take multiple urine tests (under the supervision of Columbia Pictures) during filming. Miraculously, she passed all of them. Initially Columbia Pictures was reluctant to hire Love, with her troubled past and all…

A “True Actress”

Love surprised audiences and critics with a highly acclaimed performance in the film, earning herself a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress as well as a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Woody Harrelson holds Courtney Love in a scene from the film.
Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

Critic Roger Ebert called her “a true actress.” Riding the newfound wave of fame, Love was popping up in ad campaigns for Versace and in Vogue Italia. After The People vs. Larry Flynt, she started seeing her co-star Edward Norton, and the two even remained together until 1999 (when Fight Club came out, to put things into perspective).

They Kept Their Romance a Secret

To many, their relationship was a secret. Norton managed to keep it under wraps so well that only a few people were aware of their secret affair. But Love once admitted that she wouldn’t hesitate to dump Norton for a film role.

A picture of Norton and Love on stage.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

Even after their split, Love has always thought highly of Norton. She was once asked if she had any good lovers after Cobain, to which she posted a photo of Norton on Instagram. She even shared that Norton was the person she should’ve married when she had the chance.

She Dumped Him for Another Man and a Movie Role

“I’ve either had the very good guys or the very bad. I should have married Edward.” So why did they break up? She said she made a major mistake by choosing another man instead. “I left him for a bad man who stole all my money,” she admitted.

Norton attends an event.
Photo by Marc Piasecki/WireImage/Getty Images

“I left Ed Norton, who was good and wonderful, for an average bad man who was in A+R. It’s upsetting.” Then she admitted another reason for the split. “I dumped him for a movie role,” she revealed. “If that isn’t shallow, I don’t know what is.”

Still, however, Love maintained she had strong feelings towards the actor. So much so that the actor at the time claimed she left everything in her will to him.

She Said She Saw Cobain’s Ghost

In typical Courtney Love fashioned, she said something very bizarre; something that she says happened while her and Norton were together. Love told Interview Magazine that she was visited by her late husband’s ghost.

Love speaks at the microphone during an interview.
Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

“When I moved to Hancock Park from Seattle with Frances and Edward, I saw Kurt in a chair for a moment and he said hi to me and then he left,” she divulged. Was she sober at the time or even during this interview? It isn’t clear. You be the judge.