For two decades, the rocky relationship between Courtney Love and Nirvana’s two surviving members – Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic – has essentially been limited to legal action, with the occasional tersely worded statement or public accusation thrown in for additional acrimony.
But on Thursday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the warring factions set aside their differences and came together as Nirvana were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the band’s first year of eligibility. In fact, they even embraced onstage, and while the crowd inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center may have booed her, Love was clearly in a reconciliatory mood.
“This is my family I’m looking at right now,” she said, leaving the podium to hug “Brother Krist” and Grohl. “I just wish Kurt could have been here. Tonight he would have really appreciated it.”
Of course, things haven’t always been this cordial. Tensions between the three parties have been flaring for years as they battled over Nirvana, L.L.C., the partnership founded in 1997 to manage the band’s affairs. This issue led Love to file lawsuits in 2001, followed by Grohl and Novoselic, each seeking to remove the other party from the equation. Initially, Love sought to effectively dissolve the L.L.C., a move that earned a scathing rebuke from Grohl and Novoselic, who called Cobain’s widow “irrational, mercurial, self-centered, unmanageable, inconsistent and unpredictable.”
Love would subsequently file a second suit, asking that the contract between Nirvana and Geffen be rescinded, with all rights pertaining to Nirvana reverting back to her, and she returned serve to Grohl and Novoselic in a missive that downplayed their roles in the band, stating, rather matter-of-factly: “Kurt Cobain was Nirvana.”
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Rather unbelievably, those suits were eventually settled, paving the way for the release of 2002’s Nirvana, which featured “You Know You’re Right,” one of the last-known Cobain compositions, and the box set compilation With The Lights Out, but the drama between the three would continue for some time.
In 2006, Love – who remained the executor of Cobain’s estate – sold a substantial portion of Nirvana’s publishing rights to a third party, and though she promised to “remain very tasteful and true to the spirit of Nirvana,” soon after, Cobain appeared as a playable character in Guitar Hero 5, much to the dismay of Grohl and Novoselic, who wrote that the legacy of their frontman “deserves better.”
Love, in turn, attempted to blame Grohl, though Guitar Hero’s publisher, Activision, said they not only obtained permission from Cobain’s estate, but that “Courtney supplied us with photos and videos and knew exactly what she wanted Kurt to look like” in the game.
Through it all, Love and Grohl emerged as the two central combatants in the feud; the Foo Fighters frontman reportedly called Love “a fucking ugly bitch” at a show, and most assumed the Foo’s song “Let It Die” was about her.
Love, meanwhile, launched several lengthy diatribes against Grohl on various social media sites, and during a 2011 Hole performance, accused him of living off her late husband’s legacy. And, in an ugly incident the following year, she claimed that Grohl had attempted to seduce her and Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean, a move Grohl called “upsetting, offensive and absolutely untrue.” Love would subsequently apologize… to Frances Bean.
All of that led to Thursday night’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where Nirvana were honored and Love came face to face with her adversaries. Even she admitted that things might get a little awkward, though, perhaps we we’re witnessing the beginning of a brand-new era. The surviving members of Nirvana, along with Love, didn’t let past dramas spoil the night … in fact, they all seemed to realize that they were part of something much bigger. Maybe for the first time.