This article originally appeared in the August 13, 1993 issue of the Boston Phoenix.
Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain has lately become the focus of some controversial behavior, including a number of personal battles with the press. The Phoenix joined the club last week, as we received a pair of angry faxes from Cobain and his wife, Courtney Love, as well as a phone call from Love.
The communications were prompted by a profile of local musician Mary Lou Lord, which ran in “Cellars by Starlight” back in March. Apart from looking at her musical career, Lord spoke about a few of her life experiences—among them a brief relationship with Cobain, before he met Love and before Nirvana’s career took off. This story wasn’t new-it was mentioned in her press bio and had been referred to months earlier in Sassy magazine; and many of Lord’s friends claimed to have known about it.
We didn’t seek to sensationalize the story, but we also didn’t try to avoid something that Lord was willing to speak openly about. It provided insight into some of her work, notably the Cobain-inspired love song “About a Boy” and her ironic cover of “Smells like Teen Spirit.” Toward the end of our interview, Lord said that the relationship was over and that she had moved on.
Four months later, the story found its way to Cobain and Love, and last week a Phoenix employee received a phone call from Courtney Love. “She was slurring her words, and her thoughts didn’t sound too coherent,” the employee recalls. “She said she was replying to a story, and I remembered the one she meant. I said something like ‘Oh, you mean the woman who went out with Kurt?’ And she said ‘That’s not true! That’s not true! It was only one night!’ “She went on like that for a while. What was strange was that she said things like ‘I know the girls in L7 sleep around with everybody, but Kurt would never do anything like that.’ “ (This isn’t the first time that Love appears to have turned her wrath on other women in bands; in a recent Melody Maker interview, she’s quoted as calling PJ Harvey’s Polly Harvey a “slut.”)
Shortly afterward, a fax signed by Cobain (and not by Love) arrived at the Phoenix. “Gross! I was very DRUNK [emphasis his] one night in Boston, a creepy girl came on to me. I don’t even remember what happened but It WASN’T MUCH. All of a sudden my life is plagued by this insane girl. I NEVER had a relationship with her. Please Mary whoever you are, leave me alone and see a therapist.” Scrawled at the bottom of the fax, in different handwriting, was the following: “One night, one night, one fucking night! A blur! A blur! Jesus, a blur is not a relationship. I never took this girl anywhere, except maybe in the backyard to shoot her.”