September 23, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

When we last left Courtney Love, the celebrated widow of Kurt Cobain, the world was praising her smarts, vitality, and flinty courage in the face of tragedy. Since then, the roller-coaster princess of rock has left more than a few puzzled looks in her wake. Newspapers are rich with reports of her coast-to-coast instability. Among the Love letters:

*In L.A.: The lead singer of Hole reportedly came close to immolating herself by dozing off with a cigarette during a video shoot; once awake, she pleaded for painkillers.

*In Philadelphia: She popped into a South Street shop and, discovering T- shirts bearing Cobain’s death certificate, unleashed her fury on a salesman (”F — – you, you can’t sell this in here!”).

*In Cleveland: When opening for Nine Inch Nails at Nautica Stage, Love informed the crowd that she gave Cobain fellatio and a cup of joe every morning ”and he still left me.”

*In cyberspace: Love has raised eyebrows on the Internet, too. Early in August she went on-line with a gonzo screed featuring zingers like ”I don’t do heroin!!!” and ”God!!! I love my Wonderbra!”

Geffen spokesman Jim Merlis downplays talk that Love is losing her grip. ”She’s gone through a lot,” he says. ”There’s gonna be some bad days. But she’s gonna be okay. There’s also a lot of rumors with regard to Courtney that aren’t always true. Everything gets blown up.” Over the next few months, audiences can find out for themselves. Hole is currently on tour with its new bassist, 22-year-old Melissa Auf Der Maur (original bassist Kristen Pfaff died of an apparent heroin overdose in June), and many believe the work will do Love good. Indeed, during a recent interview with Kurt Loder on MTV, Love said: ”People go back to work; this is what I do. I gotta make a living.”

Meanwhile, the music world has begun to pay homage to Cobain. Sinead O’Connor lays a wreath with a cover of Nirvana’s ”All Apologies.” But part of Cobain’s own eulogy-a double disc of live performances-will have to wait. When Nirvana’s surviving members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, went into a studio to work on the recordings, they found the experience emotionally overwhelming. ”They just couldn’t do it,” says Merlis. ”They said they’d do it later, but they just can’t right now.” So instead, fans will get a single Unplugged disc in November—with two extra tracks that were left out of the original MTV broadcast.

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