Courtney Love formed the band Hole in 1989 but really became famous in the early 1990s because of her marriage with Nirvana’s frontman, Kurt Cobain. Over the years, she’s developed a reputation for being outspoken and uninhibited, both in her music and personal life. Courtney’s confrontational nature has led her into numerous feuds with other musicians.
From her long-time fight with Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill to her famed feud with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, Love is detested by just about everyone. Not only that, but she’s also been blamed consistently for Cobain’s suicide and been deemed an unfit mother to their daughter, Francis Bean. Why does everyone love to hate Courtney Love so much?
Considering the events of the last twenty-five years or so, it’s almost unbelievable that Courtney Love and Dave Grohl used to be friends a long time ago. Back in 1992, when Kurt and Courtney got married in Hawaii, their families may not have been there, but Dave Grohl was. There is even a photograph of the three of them holding hands after the ceremony.
In the early 1990s, Dave became the drummer for Nirvana, and Courtney started seeing the band’s leading man, Kurt Cobain. Love reminisced about their long-lost friendship in 2018, saying, “I liked Dave very much. He was a boundless bundle of energy, not only a great talent but great fun.” What went wrong between them?
No one is sure when the bad blood between Grohl and Love truly started, but the first public record of their feud was in 2001. Four years earlier, Love, Grohl, and Krist Novoselic, another former member of Nirvana, formed Nirvana L.L.C., a limited liability company meant to manage the band’s business deals and interests.
However, something must have gone sour because, in June of 2001, she filed a lawsuit to dissolve the company. The lawsuit also blocked the release of any unreleased Nirvana material. The former band members counter sued Love and called her “irrational, mercurial, self-centered, unmanageable, inconsistent and unpredictable.” She responded by saying that “Kurt Cobain was Nirvana,” and she and their daughter were the band’s “rightful heirs.”
Could Dave Grohl’s comment on Howard Stern in 1999 have triggered Courtney to sue and dissolve Nirvana L.L.C.? In the interview, Stern asked Grohl what his favorite song by Courtney’s band Hole was. Dave replied that he liked “Teenage Wh***” best because he knew she wrote it. Many thought that Grohl was insinuating that Courtney didn’t write her other songs; Kurt did.
Later Courtney responded in an interview, also on Howard Stern, saying that Dave always slags her on Stern’s show and is on a mission to hint that she didn’t write her songs. Then, in 2002, a legal battle over the rights to the song “You Know You’re Right” ensued. The bad blood between them was just beginning.
Courtney thought the song would be a hit and should be released in an album, while Novoselic and Grohl wanted it to be part of a boxed set. Novoselic later claimed that he tried to go along with her and thought she had good ideas, but she didn’t want to cooperate.
Grohl didn’t comment; instead, he wrote the song “Let It Die,” about Love getting Cobain into drugs and leading him to suicide. The lyrics, “why’d you have to go and let it die,” refer to Kurt and Nirvana. Grohl said it was “written about feeling helpless to someone else’s demise… There are a lot of people that I’ve been angry with… but the one that’s most noted is Courtney.”
Courtney responded by writing, “as for [Dave Grohl], well, he’s hit on me so many times.” She continued, “He’s just a very, very conflicted guy about me, which is why he continually writes songs about me to hear he hates me more than anyone else.”
Love even claimed that “Kurt loathed him more than anyone else” and that in Cobain’s “will, he made a codicil that Grohl was no longer a member of Nirvana.” She went on to say she ignores him and that he can’t ruffle her feathers. Grohl, of course, later denied ever hitting on Courtney Love.
In 2009, Cobain became a character in Guitar Hero, where his likeness would play Lithium and Smells Like Teen Spirit and songs by any other artist in the game. Courtney went into a rant on social media claiming she never agreed to his character’s final appearance or allowed him to sing other artists’ songs.
Guitar Hero representatives alleged that Courtney agreed to everything. Love went on to blame Grohl and greedy lawyers for the travesty. Grohl and Novoselic said that Courtney owns the rights to Kurt’s image, and they had no part in it, and Cobain “deserved better.”
In 2009, Frances Bean Cobain got a restraining order against her mother. At first, she went to stay with her grandmother, who got custody, and then, when she came of age, she moved to L.A. with Isaiah Silva, her then-fiancé. Bean claimed that her mother’s dangerous life had caused the death of their pets in various accidents.
Apparently, the cats had become entangled in Courtney’s stuff and suffocated, and one of their dogs died after swallowing Love’s prescription pills that had been carelessly left out. Bean took their surviving dog with her so he wouldn’t get hurt as well.
In 2011, Courtney Love had a breakdown on stage. After freaking out, she came back on stage but only after her band member told the audience to yell, “Foo Fighters are gay.” Then, she referred to Grohl, saying, “if a guy takes money off my kid’s table, f*** him.”
Courtney further claimed that Grohl made millions with the Foo Fighters while still stealing from her and Francis Bean. Love claimed that she gave money from Nirvana to Kurt’s mother and sister, while Grohl has “a Nirvana Inc. credit card” and “bought an Aston Martin on it.”
A year later, in 2012, Love accused Grohl of trying to sleep with nineteen-year-old Frances Bean. The mother claimed that Bean’s roommate had told her that Dave had “hit on Frances,” whom he’s known since she was born. She also claimed that it was pathological with Grohl and that he was “sexually obsessed” with Kurt Cobain.
She further relayed that Grohl’s driver said the musician had “his hands all over” Bean. Courtney thought Frances was “curious to find out why [she] don’t like this man, and why [Kurt didn’t].” Grohl responded, saying the “accusations are upsetting, offensive and absolutely untrue.”
Frances Bean responded to the controversy, saying, “while I’m generally silent on the affairs of my biological mother, her recent tirade has taken a gross turn.” She then supported Grohl, sharing, “I have never been approached by Dave Grohl in more than a platonic way… Twitter should ban my mother.”
Love, who was estranged at that time from her daughter, wrote an apology post that read, “Bean, sorry I believed the gossip… Mommy loves you.” The mother and daughter have since patched things up, but more on their relationship ups and downs later.
In 2014, at the induction of Nirvana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Courtney and Dave met, and instead of fighting, they hugged. Grohl shared, “I saw Courtney walking past, and… we looked at each other in the eyes, and that was it.”
Following their encounter, Courtney said, “It’s time to make amends… We just both knew it was time to let it go, and we were ready to do it. It’s been 20 years.” Grohl agreed, “We’ve had a rocky road. We’ve had a bumpy past, but at the end of the day, we’re a big family.”
After seven quiet years, in 2021, Courtney rekindled her feud with Grohl. She claimed, “I signed a document that effectively gives Dave and Krist my descendants’ money in perpetuity. I was so broken. So scarred, so exhausted by him, I just fucking signed it. But it’s a lie. So, I’m unsigning it.”
She continued, “I’ve had enough of this s*** from these clowns leaning into my being scapegoated… for my husband’s death, for my ‘overt’ sexuality, because I’m an addict… and a WOMAN…” She shared she was sick of Grohl’s “nicest guy in rock” reputation and done “being made small.”
Grohl and Novoselic didn’t comment on Love’s tirade. A few days later, Courtney tweeted, “I need to apologize for my recent post. It was insensitive, and it was wrong. No matter how I feel, there are real people behind my words, and I need to learn to be more responsible with my words.”
She finished, saying, “I am truly sorry for those I’ve hurt, and I will do better.” At this point, it’s hard to believe this will be the last of their feud; most likely, Love will keep slandering Grohl, and he’ll keep writing mean songs about her.
Though debatably her most famous feud, Love’s beef with Grohl certainly wasn’t her first fight, nor was it her last. The Hole frontwoman has pissed off more people than Taylor Swift. From run-ins with her fellow riot girls during the early ’90s to blaming notorious reporter Lynn Hirschberg for ruining her life, Courtney can’t keep her cool.
Courtney has a record number of negative songs written about her and has claimed she has inspired many more. Love wears her anger like a badge of honor. Is she more grunge girlfriend, punk icon, or hot mess?
Courtney’s first known feud was with Babes in Toyland’s Kat Bjelland. Kat wrote a song called Bruise Violet about Love claiming that the Hole frontwoman stole her look. Love became famous for the kinderw***e style she wore and was credited with inventing it, but Bjelland said she’d invented it first.
The two had a band named Sugar Babydoll together in the 1980s, and Courtney used to borrow clothes from Kat, who had been channeling kinderw***e vibes for years. Kat was quoted saying about Courtney: “I like to make music. She likes to be famous.” They have since made up.
Her beef with Babes in Toyland wasn’t Courtney’s only fight with other girl-bands. She also memorably punched Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill at Lollapalooza in 1995. Hanna, a famous riot grrrl, was close to Kurt Cobain before he passed away. Yet Courtney said that Hanna was Kurt’s “worst enemy ever.”
According to some, Courtney yelled at Kathleen and punched her in the face, although Love claims she only threw candy at the other musician. To this day, she criticizes Hanna calling her a hype man and the “biggest hoax in the history of rock and roll.”
Other sources maintain that Hanna was a dear friend of Cobain’s and even inspired the title for Smells Like Teen Spirit. As the story goes, Hanna wrote “Kurt smells like teen spirit” on the wall of his room during a crazy night she had with him and Grohl.
She’d been referring to the smell of a deodorant brand called teen spirit that she’d been joking about with her bandmate and former girlfriend of Cobain earlier. Cobain was inspired by the graffiti and mused about the more philosophical meanings of the words. Hanna never told him it was a deodorant reference.
In the early ’90s, Madonna took an interest in Love and signed the young blonde to her label, Maverick. Courtney later bad-mouthed the popstar saying, “Madonna’s interest in me was kind of like Dracula’s interest in his latest victim.”
At the V.M.A.s in 1995, Madonna was being interviewed by Kurt Loder of MTV when Courtney threw her compact at Madonna. Loder responded by saying, “Hi Courtney. That’s Courtney, everyone’s favorite…come on up.” Madonna responded, “Should we let her up, no don’t, please.” She then went on to say, “Courtney Love is in dire need of attention right now.”
The two proceeded to get into a conversation about dating rock stars and how it hadn’t been working out lately for Courtney and if she should “dip into the population” like Madonna and date non-famous people. Madonna then asked to compare shoes with Courtney and left the interview.
Their supposed feud didn’t look good for either of them. Love came off as aggressive and mean, and Madonna as shallow and aloof. It was painted by the media as a colossal feud, though it was mostly Courtney throwing her compact for attention and the two having an awkward conversation.
Even before Kurt’s suicide in 1994, Courtney wasn’t having the best time. The worsening of her bad reputation could be traced back to a 1992 Vanity Fair article called Strange Love written by Lynn Hirschberg. Love claimed the article ruined her life.
Hirschberg described Love as some crazy, attention-obsessed woman, shooting up heroin while pregnant. If that wasn’t enough to make Love hate Hirschberg, she claims the reporter did a “hit piece” on them and drove Kurt to suicide. Love felt that her husband was humiliated by the article, and it “sent him over the edge.”
The article was clearly a hatchet job and tore Courtney’s image apart. Courtney even lost custody of Frances Bean for a few weeks because of it. The musician later admitted having used heroin for the first few weeks of her pregnancy before discovering she was with child. She’s never forgiven Lynn for writing Strange Love.
Courtney took her disdain to the next level and wrote the track “Bring Me the Head of Lynn Hirschberg.” Later, at the Academy Awards, Love spotted Hirschberg, grabbed Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar statuette from him, and threatened to use it to kill the reporter.
Hirschberg is known for ruining the reputations of her interviewees, especially the women. Not only did she inspire Courtney Love’s wrath, but in 1997 she ruined the career of Jamie Tarses. Tarses was the first female president of ABC and developed shows like Friends and Blossom, among others.
In her article, Hirschberg called the executive “a nervous girl” and wrote, “women are emotional, and Jamie is particularly emotional.” In 2010, she tore apart the image of musician M.I.A. by calling her a hypocrite for living a luxurious lifestyle while rapping about social injustice.
Courtney Love has lost custody of her daughter Frances Bean more than once. The first time was due to Lynn Hirschberg’s article and the last because of the death of their pets. After Strange Love’s release, Frances was taken from the couple while the authorities investigated whether they were using heroin.
The second time Frances was temporarily placed in the custody of her grandmother was in 2003 when Courtney Love was arrested for breaking into her ex-boyfriend, Jim Barber’s home, where she overdosed on painkillers and threatened suicide. Their relationship has always been rocky.
Frances Bean has asked fans to back off, saying, “If you’re a big Nirvana fan, a big Hole fan, then I understand why you would want to get to know me. But I’m not my parents.” The young woman is now 29 years old and is a musician, model, and visual artist.
When she turned 18, Frances inherited 37% of Cobain’s estate and the control of his name and image in place of her mother. In 2015, Bean produced a documentary about her father called Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, about his life story, including losing custody of Frances.
The Nirvana song Heart-Shaped Box was written by Kurt Cobain and is said to be about his relationship with Courtney. The song seems to be about their unstable, rocky relationship. Their astrological signs are mentioned in the lyrics: Kurt is a Pisces and Courtney, a Cancer.
Love supposedly sent Cobain a heart-shaped box full of exciting objects not long after they met. She has claimed the song is about her private parts. There are many theories regarding the song, though it is clearly about feeling trapped and unhappy either in a relationship or by heroin and wanting to be reborn.
Many people, especially Nirvana fans, hate Courtney deeply. There is a popular conspiracy theory that blames Courtney for Kurt’s death. The theorists believe that the Hole frontwoman did more than get him hooked on heroin; they think she physically shot Kurt.
The conspiracy surrounding Cobain’s death is due to inconsistencies in his death report and the fact that Ted, a private investigator that Love hired to find Cobain a few days before his suicide, accused Love of murdering her husband. In 1997, the series Unsolved Mysteries did an episode about Kurt’s death that further fueled the theories.
Recently, Courtney has fueled some conspiracies of her own against long-time rival Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. Love accused Reznor of “systemic abuse of kids, girls as young as 12, by him and his crew” and called him a creep. However, their feud didn’t start in 2021.
Reznor and Love allegedly had a fling together shortly after Kurt’s passing in 1994, when they toured together. It must have ended very badly because, in 2000, Reznor wrote a song called Starf***ers, Inc. about Love that paints a very unflattering picture of her.
Reznor’s song is about how celebrity can go wrong. It references Carly Simon’s hit “You’re So Vain.” Nine Inch Nails sing the chorus of Simon’s song during Starf***ers, Inc. A bloated, piggish Courtney Love look-alike appears in the music video, pretty much making it clear that he had her in mind.
There are more supposed references to Love, such as “My god pouts on the cover of the magazine, my god’s a shallow little b**** trying to make the scene.” Trent later denied that he and Courtney ever dated, although she alleged that they did.
Reznor may have borrowed his song’s title from a Tori Amos song called Professional Widow that is also rumored to be about Love. Amos and Reznor were close before some “malicious meddling on the part of” Courtney. It seems neither Amos nor Reznor forgave her.
Tori’s song references both suicide and heroin, causing fans to believe it was about Courtney Love due to her tendency to date stars and the fact that she profited from her husband’s death. Amos never confirmed whether the song was about Love, and Courtney was never sure what to think.
The list of female musicians who have beef with Courtney just goes on. Among the most surprising is a pop star, Gwen Stefani. Their quarrel started in 2004 during an interview for Seventeen magazine when Love dissed Stefani: “Being famous is just like being in high school. But I’m not interested in being the cheerleader. I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed.”
Her comment about Gwen inspired the artist to write the song Hollaback Girl as a response. Gwen dresses as a cheerleader in the song’s video, directly referencing Courtney’s shade.
Stefani even admitted the song was written because she’d been called a cheerleader: “You know someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I’ve never been a cheerleader. So, I was, like, ‘OK, f*** you. You want me to be a cheerleader? Well, I will be one then. And I’ll rule the whole world, just you watch me.'”
The two stars are still on the outs, and to this day, Courtney Love continues to try and get to Gwen. Courtney claimed to have slept with Gwen’s former husband while they were together. She also dissed Stefani’s clothing line.
Another fellow musician that Courtney is rumored to have gotten to blows with is Lily Allen. In 2010, Courtney got angry at Lily for supposedly not allowing anyone else to wear Chanel. Some sources claim the two had a physical altercation, but mostly their feud took place on Twitter.
The two posted ugly pictures of one another and dissed each other. Lily called Courtney a “drug-addled lunatic,” and Courtney accused Lily of doing blow (cocaine) in her home while Frances was asleep and needed to be forcibly removed. Allen later apologized for taking things so far.
Love has gotten into so many feuds and altercations, it’s hard to keep track. Some honorable mentions include her accusations towards Ryan Adams about ripping her off and that Steve Coogan, her ex, caused Owen Wilson to attempt suicide. Love has also been banned from flying Virgin Atlantic for causing a disturbance during a flight.
Courtney feuded with reporter Tabitha Soren, film producer Sam Lufti, and even defamed Rhonda Holmes, her former lawyer. She’s gotten into a legal battle with author Anthony Bozza and another one with fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir.
Nevertheless, sometimes Courtney’s feuds are righteous. She accused Ted Nugent of raping her when she was underage, and another woman has since accused him as well. She called out Korn and Marilyn Manson for their creepy and inappropriate behavior and for taking advantage of female fans.
Manson has since been accused of misconduct by numerous women. Love even accused Harvey Weinstein back in 2005, saying, “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in his Four Seasons, don’t go.” As a former heroin addict herself, Courtney publicly blamed Oxycontin heiress Joss Sackler for starting the opioid epidemic in America.
Because of her feisty feuds, Courtney Love has also managed to have many songs written about her. One song by The Strokes even contains a hint that maybe Love did kill Cobain. In the song Meet Me in the Bathroom by Julian Casablancas, are the words, “Things would change when he’s dead, ‘Meet me in the bathroom,’ that’s what she said.”
Because of a Tweet by Courtney, it has been assumed the song is about her; she wrote “Just meet me in the bedroom -Courtney Love” followed by “Meet me in the bathroom, That’s what she said -Julian Casablancas.”
Love wrote, supposedly responding to the Strokes song, “But Julian, I’m a Little Older Than You.” Julian has never confirmed whether the song Meet Me in the Bathroom is about Courtney and whether the lyric “Things would change when he’s dead” had any meaning or relation to Kurt Cobain.
Julian did say that he hung out with Courtney in N.Y.C. back in the day and that she once told him, “My face is my backstage pass.” He also claims Courtney, “and Winona Ryder drove off in a car after a concert and Courtney shouted, ‘Come be famous with us!'”
Many songs reference Love, such as You Get What You Give by the New Radicals, which calls her a fake. Too Cool Queenie by Stone Temple Pilots is also supposedly about Courtney. It blames her for Kurt’s suicide and for profiting from it.
Courtney thinks that Crush with Eyeliner and Country Feedback, both by R.E.M., are about her. She is close with Michael Stipe, the frontman, who is Frances’s godfather and has helped her through many breakdowns, which Love believes are referenced in the lyrics: “we’ve been through fake breakdown, self-hurt, self-help.”
In the music video for Sad and Damned by Nymphs, the singer Inger appears dressed as a Courtney Love look-alike, blonde hair and plastic crown intact. She goes through various tortures throughout the video and indeed looks sad and damned.
Love alleges that several songs by The Smashing Pumpkins are about her, including Bodies, Where Boys Fear to Tread, and Tonight, Tonight. She dated Billy Corgan before Kurt and believed their breakup inspired him to write a few critical songs about her, although Corgan has never admitted to doing so and claims the songs are about his wife.
Coattails of a Dead Man by Primus is about Love and depicts her as a fame-seeking, power-hungry gold-digger who stole her husband’s life, fame and money and pretended to mourn him by riding his coattails forever. “Kisses” by Tracy Bonham has also been rumored to be about Love, although Bonham never confirmed the rumor.
“Kisses,” tells the tale of a woman starved for attention who likes to self-destruct in public for the entertainment of others. Courtney by Nerf Herder is explicitly about Love and in the song the band talk about her life and fantasize about sleeping with her.
These days, Courtney Love has tried to stay calm. She has even apologized for her comments about Grohl and Reznor. According to Frances, they are in a good place: “When my mom is on a right and healthy path, she is one of the most fulfilling, beautiful, intelligent and kind people I ever met.”
Whether it’s the Buddhist chanting that Courtney practices or something else entirely, we hope she continues her positive journey. No matter how much everyone loves to hate Courtney Love, she’s a style icon and a brilliant musician who deserves some appreciation.