LOVE, Courtney   [b. 1964]

“Before Liverpool my life doesn’t count” . Thus Courtney Love, actress, singer and one time wife of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, defines the importance of her short sojourn in the city between February and July 1982. Indeed, when she met writer Paul du Noyer in New York to reminisce about her Liverpool days she insisted on doing so in a 'Scouse' accent. Du Noyer rated her scouse accent  as being on a par with Dick Van Dyke's cockney.

Supported by a trust fund which paid her $500 per month, she had set off for Europe with girl-friend Robin Barbur. Her father, writer and one-time manager of the Grateful Dead, Hank Harrison was living in Ireland at the time and having visited him she met Julian Cope, lead singer of Liverpool band Teardrop Explodes in Dublin and ‘wangled’ from him an invitation to stay in his flat in Liverpool. His willingness to accommodate the two girls may have been influenced by the fact that he had in fact already moved to Tamworth with his girlfriend. Cope’s co-tenants at 20 Devonshire Road L8 were Paul Simpson of Wild Swans and Echo and the Bunnymen  drummer Pete de Freitas, and he neglected to give them any warning that two young American girls were moving in. Simpson recalls that they looked like "a pair of dishevelled gargoyles". 

They were given Julian Cope’s old bedroom at the back of the house on the understanding that they would move on within the week. There seems to be a fair consensus amongst those who met Courtney Love at this time that she was obnoxious. In any case it was not long before the pair were ‘asked’ to leave and they decamped to a flat in Princes Road – Princes Avenue where they existed amongst an ever mounting pile of debris and unwashed dishes. During her stay in the city she basically hung out in places where she could rub shoulders with the emerging bands of the time such as Eric’s, the Armadillo tea rooms, Probe Records et al. She has often listed the Liverpool bands of the era as key influences on her own music and did indeed try to form a band while she was in the city, prompted by some interest from Zoo Records.

Her father Hank made  visit to the city during her stay, selling a sizeable quantity of LSD tabs and ‘orange pills’ in order to fund a ticket to take him back to the States. Courtney herself returned to the USA in July 1982.

Courtney Love was born Courtney Michelle Harrison on 9th July 1964 at San Francisco. In the 1980’s she had some success getting acting roles in such films as Sid and Nancy [1986] Straight to Hell [1987] and an episode of Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes. In the 1990s she enjoyed success with the band she formed, Hole. From 1992 until his death in 1994 she was married to Kurt Cobain.

20 Devonshire Road L8

The house where Courtney Love and Robin Barbur stayed in 1982.

A photo of Love in her 'Toxteth flat'.


Dave Haslam has written a short book entitled Searching for Love: Courtney Love in Liverpool 1982 [Confingo Publishing 2020]. An article by him in The Guardian in 2020 summarises most of the book. For general information on her life and career the Wikipedia entry is quite comprehensive.  Her stay in Liverpool is also covered in Paul du Noyer's excellent book Liverpool Wondrous Place: Music from the Cavern to the Coral [Virgin 2004].