A Complete Timeline Of Courtney Love And Kurt Cobain's Relationship

This article contains references to drug use, mental health issues, and suicide.

Is there any celeb couple who encapsulates the archetypal rockstar romance better than Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love? In their heyday, they were grunge royalty, leading two of the most influential bands of the '90s: Nirvana and Hole, respectively. He was a new breed of rock god — sensitive, socially conscious, and lacking the machismo of his predecessors; she was a ripped-babydoll-dress-sporting chanteuse kicking the patriarchy's butt with her provocative gravel-voiced songs. Together, they were, as Cobain once told Rolling Stone, "Evian water and battery acid." But theirs was a love that could be at once passionate, and dynamic, yet anything but pretty on the inside.

As Love put it in an interview with Everett True for The Stranger, "Glamour aside, there could be no more perfect couple at the time, we were so right for each other because we were the most antisocial people in our entire area." Indeed, Cobain and Love complemented each other both in their creative capabilities and ideological sensibilities. But just as soon as their love ignited – and it did so with remarkable speed – it burnt out. Despite their all too brief romance, it left an indelible mark on '90s pop culture, inspiring an entire generation and the ones that followed.

In delving into the complete timeline of Kurt and Courtney's relationship, there will be tears, there will be music, but most of all, there will be a couple who never failed to be interesting ... 

Life before Kurt and Courtney

Prior to dating Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love was in a relationship with Eric Erlandson, lead guitarist for her band Hole. In an interview with LA Weekly, Erlandson explained that his romance with Love was strained due to her dalliance with Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan and, later, her pursuit of Cobain. Despite Love breaking up with him to be with the Nirvana frontman, Erlandson appeared to show no ill will toward either party.

As for Cobain, he was reportedly dating folk musician Mary Lou Lord immediately before he embarked on a romance with Love, per CBS. However, Cobain was not intent on finding a soulmate and opted to play the field prior to meeting his future wife. "I was determined to be a bachelor for a few months," Cobain said in "Come as You Are" (via Diffuser). "But I knew that I liked Courtney so much right away that it was a really hard struggle to stay away from her for so many months."

There are differing accounts of how exactly Cobain and Love met. According to Charles R. Cross' book "Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain," the two first met at the Satyricon nightclub in January 1990. However, Nirvana biographer Michael Azerrad claims that the Satyricon club encounter was actually in 1989, while Love's ex, Erlandson, alleges that the pair didn't meet until a Butthole Surfers concert in 1991, per Life.

The moment they fell in love

According to "Heavier Than Heaven" (via The Daily Beast), the rapport between Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love was palpable when they first flirted at the Satyricon club circa 1990. Their chemistry was in bloom, but their hook-up had to wait as the Nirvana frontman was there with his girlfriend. To get Cobain's attention, Love sent him "a heart-shaped box filled with a tiny porcelain doll, three dried roses, a miniature teacup, and shellac-covered seashells." Their second meeting arrived in May the following year and they were soon smitten.

Cobain's unassuming nature was attractive to Love. While she admired his good looks, she also appreciated his modesty. "And that was part of the charm," Love said in "Montage of Heck" (via The Washington Post). "He didn't know he was a better-looking guy than Brad Pitt." However, the pair didn't enter a relationship until months later. As Love recounted to Sassy magazine (via Life), "I really pursued him, not too aggressive, but aggressive enough that some girls would have been embarrassed by it."

Speaking with Tony Wilson, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan claimed that Cobain and Love became a couple when Nirvana was playing in Chicago the same night as the Pumpkins. Allegedly, Love flew in to see Corgan, but he was seeing another woman, so she went down the road and hooked up with Cobain, instead. He suggested that the pair knew each other, but that it wasn't "a full blown romance" yet.

The best, er, lover in the world

Through word of mouth and heavy MTV rotation, Nirvana was fast becoming one of the biggest rock bands in the country in 1991. All the while, Courtney Love was besotted with Kurt Cobain, and in awe of his electrifying stage presence. In Interview magazine, she recounted a sweet memory from the winter of 1991, in which she watched Cobain perform on stage at Whiskey a Go Go. "My future husband Kurt [Cobain] came in. He was wearing this beautiful cowboy leather coat, and he just parted the crowd like Moses," she reflected.

That same season, Nirvana made an appearance on British late night music show The Word. Their performance would entail one of the first public statements from Cobain that he was, indeed, in a relationship with Love. Infamously, he branded his lover "the best f*** in the world." On Instagram (via Louder Sound), Love reflected on the moment in which she received the, er, esteemed honor. "I heard about it in Germany, right as I was about to go onstage," she wrote. "Despite it seeming possibly vulgar to some, it isn't, it was really sweet, and made me chuckle."

And thus began a whirlwind romance, one that was under frequent scrutiny by the tabloids. This devastated Cobain's then-girlfriend, Mary Lou Lord, who watched her lover make the bold declaration on television. Lord told CBS that she had seen Cobain the very night before the performance and she "didn't know who Courtney Love was."

They married in 1992

It has been alleged that Kurt Cobain proposed to Courtney Love after a show at TJ's venue in Newport, Wales on December 10, 1991. According to some concertgoers who spoke to Wales Online, Cobain took the opportunity at the small, dingy club to get down on one knee. Others, however, have claimed that this story is merely local "folklore" and may not be entirely accurate.

Regardless, on February 24, 1992, the rockstar couple wed in Honolulu, Hawaii. Per EW, Cobain wore flannel pajamas and Love wore a white dress once worn by Frances Farmer, a Hollywood actor who was reportedly lobotomized and later inspired the Nirvana song "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle." With just a handful of guests — including Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl — it was, without doubt, a modest wedding for a superstar couple. "Well, they were both pretty unconventional people," Charles R. Cross told New York Post. "I think the idea of the wedding in a church ... I couldn't imagine that happening in a billion years."

In April of that year, the newly married Cobain spoke to Rolling Stone, where he waxed lyrical about his bride. The Nirvana frontman gushed, "I'm just happier than I've ever been. I finally found someone that I am totally compatible with. It doesn't matter whether she's a male, female ... or a donkey. We're compatible."

Frances Bean Cobain is born

On August 18, 1992, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love welcomed their only child, Frances Bean Cobain. According to the Irish Independent, her first name was reflective of both Cobain's lifelong affinity for Frances Farmer and his friend Frances McKee, of the Scottish band The Vaselines, whose song "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam" Nirvana famously covered for their "MTV Unplugged" show. As for "Bean," the moniker was inspired by Frances' sonogram resembling a kidney bean, per the outlet. 

As expected from the offspring of rock superstars, the little one's birth was anything but ordinary. According to Everett True's "Nirvana" biography (via Page Six), Love went into labor days after her husband was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for heroin detoxification. True claims that Love ordered her ailing husband to be by her side during the painful labor, allegedly yelling, "You get out of this bed and come down now! You are not leaving me to do this by myself, [bleep] you!" Appropriately, Frances was born to famous godparents – Drew Barrymore and R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, per MTV.

Although Cobain's time with his daughter was brief, he adored her. Michael Azerrad noted in The New Yorker that the musician was a doting dad who reveled in fatherhood and caring for his baby girl. "There's nothing better than having a baby," Cobain told the LA Times. "I've always loved children. I used to work summers at the YMCA and be in charge of like 30 preschool kids."

The explosive Vanity Fair article

The summer of 1992 should have been a triumphant time for Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. After he'd attended the birth of daughter Frances Bean in Los Angeles, Nirvana traveled to England for a landmark headline set at the Reading Festival on August 30. However, just two days later, on September 1, Vanity Fair published a bombshell article suggesting that Love had been using heroin during her pregnancy. 

The article, entitled Strange Love and penned by Lynn Hirschberg, cited an unnamed "business associate" of the pair, who claimed: "Courtney was pregnant and she was shooting up. Kurt was throwing up on people in the cab. They were both out of it." Both Love and Cobain slammed the article as fake news. In a 1992 letter to David Geffen, obtained by Daily Mail, Cobain expressed his fury at the allegations. Likewise, he left Hirschberg a threatening and expletive-laden voicemail

That year, he told the LA Times that the "junkie" epithet had long been used against him. "I know that a lot of it has to do with the vibes that I put off," he acknowledged. For her part, Love contends that once she found out she was pregnant, she stopped taking heroin and sought to recover from her addiction, disputing Vanity Fair's inference that she was on drugs throughout her pregnancy. "I did do heroin when I was pregnant, and then I stopped. And I knew she would be fine," the Hole frontwoman emphasized in "Montage of Heck" (via The Washington Post).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Kurt and Courtney lose custody of Frances Bean

Following the explosive Vanity Fair article, social services intervened with the family. Per People, Frances Bean was just a few weeks old when she was taken away from her parents in the summer of 1992. As chronicled in "Heavier than Heaven," the youngster was subsequently assigned to the care of Courtney Love's half-sister Jamie Rodriguez, whom the couple hardly even knew. 

The book notes that Cobain's lawyer, Rosemary Carroll, said that child welfare officers' removal of Frances was particularly cruel due to Love having "gone through physical pain, much more than a regular pregnancy, because of the struggles to withdraw and stay healthy." She lamented the new mother having "to go through that and have the baby, and then have the baby taken away." According to People, however, "the investigation was eventually dismissed and Frances returned home."

Following the trauma of briefly losing their child, Cobain spoke with the LA Times to clarify his stance on drug misuse as well as his devotion to his daughter. "I don't want my daughter to grow up and someday be hassled by kids at school ... I don't want people telling her that her parents were junkies," he declared. The musician went on to explain that becoming a father had changed his worldview; while he acknowledged having taken drugs in the past, he affirmed that he didn't "want to have anything to do with inciting drug use."

Red carpet sweethearts

The VMAs on September 2, 1993 would be Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love's first major appearance on the red carpet with Frances Bean. Famously, Love channeled Marilyn Monroe, in a retro-style white dress and bright red lipstick and, at some point, RuPaul cuddled a crying Frances and posed with the (mostly) happy family. Cobain had reportedly told the drag legend that he was a big fan, with the "Cover Girl" performer telling the AV Club that the grunge couple had an affinity for him because they had "the same irreverent, hippie, bohemian mentality" that he came from. "So of course they're going to gravitate toward what I'm doing," he explained.

Cobain's connection with RuPaul was reflective of his progressive social justice leanings at a time when such views were anything but mainstream, and homophobia was rife in the media, as argued by The Washington Post. Famously, Cobain toyed with deconstructing outmoded gender roles and often slammed homophobes and bigots in interviews.

The 1993 VMAs would prove fruitful for Cobain, with Nirvana winning "Best Alternative Video" for their single "In Bloom" — an award presented by none other than Michael Richards (aka Cosmo Kramer, of "Seinfeld"). Then, on September 8 of that year, Cobain and Love performed live together for the first time ever at a Rock Against Rape benefit concert, with Spin praising their "intense" performance. Sadly, this would be the only opportunity fans would have of seeing the rockstar couple on stage together.

They inspired each other musically

In the summer of 1993, Nirvana released their final studio album, "In Utero," while Courtney Love began recording Hole's seminal album "Live Through This" in the fall, per Gillian G. Gaar's book "The Rough Guide to Nirvana." At this point, both songwriters' creative juices were flowing thanks to the other. As Gaar points out in her book, Kurt Cobain provided backing vocals on several of the songs on "Live Through This," though an unreleased version of "Asking For It" is all that remains of this rare Kurt/Courtney collaboration.

The Hole frontwoman said that one of the album's biggest singles, "Doll Parts," was inspired by her love for Cobain, with the songstress branding it a "homage" to her husband. As Love explained on Instagram (via Louder Sound), the song was a visceral means of telling Cobain, "You're a f****** idiot if you don't choose ME, and here is all the desire and fury and love that I feel for you."

Similarly, Nirvana's single "Heart-Shaped Box" was reportedly inspired by Love. As Charles R. Cross elucidates in "Heavier Than Heaven," "In Utero" was Cobain's gift to Love after she gave him a heart-shaped box early in their relationship: "He was returning her a 'Heart-Shaped Box,' [in] musical form." Love elaborated on this when Lana Del Rey covered the track in 2012, with the outspoken musician alleging to the singer on Twitter that the song was based around a euphemism for her own, ahem, doll parts

Kurt overdoses in Rome

On March 1, 1994, Nirvana played their final show at Terminal Einz in Munich, per Kerrang! magazine. Just two days later, Kurt Cobain had an overdose in Rome. As Farout Magazine notes, had Love not found Cobain and called the emergency services, he would have died that day. Speaking with Rolling Stone in December 1994, Love recalled this extremely challenging point in the couple's life, explaining how difficult the European tour was on the ailing rockstar. "He hated everything, everybody," she revealed. "Hated, hated, hated. He called me from Spain, crying. I was gone 40 days. I was doing my thing with my band for the first time since forever."

Love has suggested that Kurt overdosed because he discovered that she wanted to have an affair. "He must have been psychic or something," she told TVGuide. "I almost did one time, and he knew it ... I have no idea how he knew it." While Love never acted on it, she lamented that her brief consideration of an affair may have led to her husband almost dying.

Then, on March 18, police were called to Cobain and Love's home after the Nirvana frontman had been brandishing a gun and making threats against his life, per Rolling Stone. Concerned for her husband's declining health, Love organized an intervention for Cobain to seek help. Regretting her decision to leave her partner to sober up as she left for LA, Love reflected, "That '80s tough-love bull**** — it doesn't work."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Courtney thought Kurt was cheating

Sadly, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love's final moments together were beset by anxiety and jealousy. During this period, Love reportedly began to fear that Cobain was unfaithful to her and their relationship grew strained. As Michael Azerrad wrote in The New Yorker, "a cloud" began to encircle Cobain's life and his mood "depended a lot on whether he'd been fighting with Courtney."

There was one person in particular who apparently roused Love's jealousy and that was Hole member Kristen Pfaff. By Cobain's own admission, Love had long feared that he harbored a crush on the enigmatic bassist, who remained his close friend until his untimely death. Tragically, Pfaff also died at 27, just two months after Cobain. When speaking with his friend Dylan Carlson, Cobain may have acknowledged that his wife had cause for concern regarding Pfaff. Per the book "The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll," the frontman was alleged to have said, "She's a f****** talented musician ... I think she's so beautiful, but if I ever told her that, and Courtney found out, it would be hell."

According to the salacious book "Love & Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain," an excerpt of which was published by NBC News, Cobain purportedly bought two plane tickets on April 3, 1994. Love allegedly became obsessive regarding the owner of the mysterious second ticket, and became convinced it was for drug dealer Caitlin Moore, who she suspected was sleeping with her husband.

Kurt Cobain's tragic death

The prospect of Kurt Cobain dying young was one that had apparently long haunted those around him. As Michael Azerrad revealed in The New Yorker, "I sensed that he was one of those rock musicians who dies young ... I just sensed it. It turns out that a lot of other people around him did, too: his bandmate Dave Grohl sensed it, and so did Kurt's wife, Courtney Love. Even Kurt's own mother acknowledged it."

On April 5, 1994, Cobain died by suicide, aged just 27. The young rockstar's death shocked both fans and peers alike, with numerous musicians paying tribute to him in the aftermath of his tragic demise. Understandably, Love was devastated. Speaking with Rolling Stone eight months later, she noted her inability to hold back tears when discussing her late husband. With regards to being able to perform on stage again, she poignantly revealed, "When the lights are blue and there are two of them in front of me, often they will symbolize Kurt's eyes to me." 

Reflecting on living with Cobain in his final, grueling months, she admitted that while she had to contend with frequent "screaming" and "yelling," caring for both her husband and daughter gave her purpose in life: "To take care of these two human beings, my husband and child, and make sure that they lived. And it was a fine purpose." Love appeared to exhibit empathy and understanding of mental illness at a time when such conditions could be scarcely understood.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Cobain's estate and legacy stirs drama

After Kurt Cobain died, the years that followed would be fraught with grief, pain, and anger for his widow. Courtney Love inherited "almost two-thirds" of Cobain's money, with Frances Bean receiving 37% in a trust fund, per Express. By 2014, his fortune was estimated to be worth $450 million, according to CNBC, who noted the ongoing disputes regarding the late star's estate and legacy.

In 2001, Love was locked in a bitter feud with the surviving members of Nirvana. Per ABC News, Love sued Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic over publishing rights, accusing them of having exploited her grief by making her agree to a contract that signed away three—quarters of Nirvana ownership. Conversely, Grohl and Novoselic made the damning accusation that Love was unusually open with the media when discussing her bereavement, claiming her recollections of Cobain were littered with "glaring inaccuracies." The LA Times reports that the suit was settled the following year.

What may haunt Love the most are the circumstances that led to her husband's death, however. In 2011, the performer went so far as to accuse writer Lynn Hirschberg of contributing to her late husband's death with what she called Vanity Fair's "hit piece" on the couple. During an interview with The Fix, Love asserted, "She humiliated and emasculated him. She sent him over the edge." For Love, as well as for fans and everyone else who loved him, Cobain's death continues to weigh heavy.