I haven’t viewed enough CSI to be an authority, but the forensic evidence presented in Max Wallace and Ian Halperin’s Love & Death has me convinced of two things: Courtney Love may well have masterminded the murder of Kurt Cobain, and Billy Corgan is in fact alt-rock’s biggest douche. After all, it wasn’t that guy from Creed who slept with Love less than a month after her husband’s death.
This revelation, plus even more messed-up stuff culled from extensive interviews, a leaked autopsy report, and previously unreleased recordings made by Love’s former P.I., mar as much as mark the last-ditch cash-in surrounding the 10th anniversary of Cobain’s death. Hole’s Live Through This appeared in stores days after Cobain was found in his Seattle estate’s greenhouse, pumped with a “triple lethal” dose of heroin and shot through the mouth; America’s Sweetheart, Love’s shitty solo debut, was released this past February. At least she didn’t splash Kurt on the cover, like those other media whores, the ones who supposedly review new records.
Wallace and Halperin, whose tentative Who Killed Kurt Cobain? (1998) sparked the investigation that led to this book, lay down all their cards. That includes jokers like Allen Wrench, a Lexus-driving sleaze who strongly hints that Love paid him to kill a man, and Eldon Hoke, who passed a polygraph claiming Love asked him to kill Cobain. When the authors occasionally wander from the facts, expert testimony, and filthy gossip, they quickly lose their way. If, with his passing, Cobain became “the Kennedy of a new generation,” wouldn’t Biggie be the MLK of Pepsi drinkers?
When they write that Love was born July 9, 1965, on “O.J. Simpson’s eighteenth birthday,” our gumshoes unknowingly step into a steamer. Simpson is a scumbag wife-beater, innocent of murder or not. While her ex-hubby, Falling James, claims Love hired thugs to beat up her enemies, the court of popular opinion faults her first for unladylike ambition. The writers cite a statistic that 41 percent of female murderers kill their husbands; I immediately wanted to know how many of these women were abused by their spouses. Courtney Love, who butted into grunge when I was an adolescent, should be credited for helping to raise our consciousness.
But she’s still a bitch. Wallace and Halperin let Love’s pattern of ugly threats, torched bridges, and double-talk speak for itself, building their elaborate but largely circumstantial case with her incessant buzzing as a backdrop. Sergeant Donald Cameron, who immediately called the death an “open-and-shut” case of suicide—and later retired when accused, after the statute of limitations had ran out, of conspiring to steal cash from another crime scene—never had the pictures of Cobain’s body and the blood-splattered room developed, and he ignored these facts: The greenhouse door did not have a stool wedged against it, as widely reported, and it could’ve been locked by someone on his or her way out; experts claim Cobain couldn’t have picked up the shotgun after shooting up so much H; the gun didn’t have prints on it; Cobain’s credit card was used after his estimated time of death; and the “suicide” note, which doesn’t mention suicide, clearly shows two different types of handwriting. Dr. Nikolas Hartshorne, a friend of Love’s who performed the autopsy and ruled the shooting a suicide, died in 2002 skydiving off a cliff.
The general argument—led by Tom Grant, the P.I. Love hired a week before Cobain’s death, when he jumped a rehab-center wall and disappeared—suggests that Love, knowing Cobain planned to leave her for another woman and that her career would benefit from his death, first tried to murder him by slipping roofies into his drink in Rome, then called it an attempt to kill himself. The second time, she supposedly enlisted their nanny, Michael “Cali” Dewitt, to kill Cobain while she was in L.A., getting herself arrested for an alibi by planting “Hindu good-luck ashes” that looked like H in her hotel room and calling the cops. She instructed Grant not to monitor the Seattle home but summoned the electrician who wound up discovering Cobain’s body. Also, she just might have had something to do with the June 1994 “overdose” of Kristen Pfaff, the bassist who had just quit Hole. And, oh, according to Grant, there are “strange coincidences” possibly connecting Love to the murder of a cop named Terry.
If all this sounds a little wacky and you couldn’t care less whether or not the case is reopened, as it clearly should be, then buy Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects. With this worshipful, rushed regurgitation, Kurt St. Thomas and Troy Smith inelegantly remind us that Kurt Cobain lost his innocence in the process of becoming rock’s savior. If Courtney Love hadn’t rushed to have his body cremated, rock’s most reluctant celebrity would be spinning in his grave.