No paparazzi, no gate-crashers, no hoopla — the marriage of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and Hole singer-guitarist Courtney Love was the antithesis of the glitzy celebrity wedding. The ceremony was performed by a nondenominational female minister on a cliff overlooking a beach in Waikiki, Feb. 24, 1992.
A handful of friends and roadies attended. The groom dressed in green flannel pajamas, while the bride wore a dress that had belonged to Frances Farmer, the tragic Hollywood actress. Cobain is said to have cried; Love, it is said, did not.
The pair tied the knot just as Nirvana mania was peaking: Nevermind had already helped knock Michael Jackson’s Dangerous from the top of the pop charts, and was selling an average of 300,000 copies a week. Fans saw the marriage as the culmination of a punk-rock fairy tale, and soon bestowed the joint sobriquet Kurtney on the newlyweds.
The two had hooked up at a Butthole Surfers show in May 1991; Love recalled that she and Cobain ”bonded over pharmaceuticals.” While their shared taste for hard drugs was never in doubt, and though both had lived hardscrabble lives, they otherwise embodied the old saw about opposites attracting. He was shy and introverted; she was outrageousness personified. Cobain summed up their attraction: ”It’s like Evian water and battery acid.”
In the wake of a corrosive Vanity Fair profile in September 1992, an image of Love as a venal harpy who had tricked the pliable young rocker into marriage emerged. But Michael Azerrad, author of the Nirvana bio Come as You Are, argues Cobain may have married Love for…love: ”The common presupposition is that Kurt was trapped by Courtney. Kurt had a very strong will and was not easily pushed around. Unless you can do a Vulcan mind meld with Courtney, I would think twice about second-guessing her motives.”
The couple’s daughter, Frances Bean, was born on Aug. 18, 1992, but Cobain’s stint as a family man was cut short by his suicide on April 6, 1994. Since then, Love has had to deny accusations that she engineered Cobain’s death, and she has emerged as an acclaimed musician and actress, not to mention a gossip-column regular. If she marries again, you can bet the tabloids will cover it.
Feb. 24, 1992
At the movies, America’s overwhelming desire to observe the doings of a pair of slackers catapults Wayne’s World to the top of the real-world box office charts for the second week in a row. On TV, the nation’s schizy viewing habits are reflected in the shows that place first and third in the Nielsens: the venerable 60 Minutes and that fun-fest for dysfunctional families Roseanne. In music, one-hit Brits Right Said Fred’s mock-narcissist anthem ”I’m Too Sexy” makes its third and final trip to the apex of the chart before its sex appeal begins to peter out. And in the news, inspired by CNN, a dozen European TV stations decide to create Euronews, an all-news satellite channel, in hopes of reaching 23 million viewers and putting a more Eurocentric slant on international news.