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A False Spring

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IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE BEST OF TIMES for Courtney Love. As her band’s new album, Live Through This, was being shipped to record stores, critics were heralding it as one of the season’s happy musical surprises. Magazine cover stories—”Love Conquers All,” trumpeted one—and a much-anticipated tour with her group, Hole, were ready to transform her from the controversial rock wife of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain into an alternative-music star in her own right. Then spring’s promise ended with a shotgun blast.

Love, 30, got the news of Cobain’s suicide on April 8 at the same Los Angeles detox center that he had disappeared from a week earlier. She checked in to the Exodus Recovery Center after posting $10,000 bail following her April 7 arrest on charges of possessing “a controlled substance” and stolen property.

The trouble began after she was taken ill in her suite at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills early on April 7. Police arrested her at Century City Hospital after searching her vomit-and-blood-splattered room. According to attorney Barry Tarlow, Love had suffered an allergic reaction to a prescribed tranquilizer, Xanax. The alleged stolen properly, he says, was a prescription pad left by the psychiatrist who treated her. And though Tarlow confirms that a syringe was found in Love’s room, a confiscated packet of white powder was nothing more than a Hindu “good-luck potion,” he maintains.

If so, it hasn’t worked wonders for Love, who faces arraignment on May 5. In August 1992 reports that she had used heroin during her pregnancy—allegations Love vehemently denied—prompted Los Angeles child-welfare authorities to place Frances Bean, now 19 months, the daughter she had with Cobain, in the temporary custody of Love’s sister, a move that Courtney has said made both her and Kurt suicidal.

For now, Love is with Frances Bean in Seattle in the quiet lakefront home where Cobain died three weeks ago. “She’s grieving and trying to absorb everything that has happened to her,” says a friend. “She’s doing as well as can be expected, considering.”

Although Love regrets submitting Cobain to a tough-love drug intervention shortly before his suicide, friends have been supportive. “Nobody blames her,” says one. “Everyone cares about her. Deep down, she and Kurt were good people.”

Like Cobain, Love brought considerable emotional baggage into the couple’s sometimes violent relationship. According to her father, Hank Harrison, 54, who runs a small Palo Alto, Calif., publishing house, Courtney was a precocious toddler. Her first words, he remembers, formed a sentence: “Please get me a bottle.” And like Cobain, her home life was destroyed by warring parents and divorce. Harrison and Courtney’s mother, Linda Carroll, now an Oregon psychologist, split when Courtney was 5, and Harrison didn’t see his daughter from the time she was 7 until she was 13. “Her mother told her I was dead,” he says. Courtney lived with Carroll, but their relationship was troubled: Courtney ran away from home several times during her early teens, spent a year in reform school, then sought and achieved emancipation as a minor at 15.

Living off part of a multimillion-dollar inheritance from her maternal grandfather, a wealthy eyeglass manufacturer, Courtney became a fixture on the punk rock scene, here and overseas, and worked as a stripper in L.A. In 1989 she married L.A. punk rocker James Moreland and divorced him a year later. She had gone through her inheritance, her father says, by the time she and Hole signed a reported $1 million recording deal with Geffen Records in 1992. A year before, she and Cobain began their passionate, drug-fueled love affair. Pregnant by the end of 1991, Love kicked heroin after learning the baby would be born healthy, and the couple married in February 1992 in Hawaii. The marriage at times seemed more like a collision as the two battled shared drug problems and each other. “They were always fighting,” says one of the couple’s friends.

And yet, others insist the two loved one another deeply. Love and the baby helped control Cobain’s engulfing despair, and he defended her against accusations that she was a no-talent gold-digger. Sadly, Cobain killed himself when the proof of her talent was, literally, in the mail.