June 29, 2001 -- The legal battle between Courtney Love and the surviving members of Nirvana over their previously unreleased material is getting ugly, and much of the band's dirty laundry is finally being aired in court papers.
In a pair of recent rulings, a Washington state court has enjoined drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic from delivering any previously unreleased Nirvana recordings to Universal Music for use in a planned Nirvana boxed set.
Specifically, Love has succeeded in preventing the inclusion of a song called "You Know You're Right," which is reportedly the last track Kurt Cobain ever recorded with Nirvana. Under their current partnership, Love and the remaining members of the Seattle grunge band must all consent when distributing previously unreleased material from the band's collection.
But at the root of the argument is an effort by Love to dissolve her partnership with Grohl and Novoselic, which would give her sole control of the Nirvana legacy. They have a trial date of Dec. 21, 2002, to resolve the dispute.
Nirvana: Trio or One-Man Band?
The legal papers in the case reveal just how nasty the fight over Nirvana has become.
The complaint by Love and her and Cobain's only daughter, Frances Bean, depicts Nirvana as a one-man show, reducing Novoselic and Grohl to little more than sidemen. It claims that the band "could never be a partnership because it was the living manifestation of the creative vision, personal will and life force of a single unique individual."
It goes on to assert that when the band's managers once drafted an agreement that would have made the three band members equal partners, Cobain took one look at it and threw it in the trash. And while Novoselic is described as "a long-term friend and supporter of Kurt," Grohl is written off as nothing more than the band's sixth drummer. Love also insists that Cobain had decided to break up Nirvana several months before his death in 1994.
The papers further allege that more than three years after Cobain's death, Grohl and Novoselic took advantage of Love's grief and coerced her into signing their current partnership agreement which gives the three equal control of Nirvana business. Since that time, she says the pair have interfered with a Kurt Cobain movie, prevented new Nirvana releases, and even threatened to destroy Nirvana recordings.
Grohl, Novoselic Tell Different Story
Needless to say, Grohl and Novoselic see things a little differently.
Their legal papers refer to Love as "a complete alien to Nirvana's music and success [who is trying to] prohibit the remaining members of Nirvana from any commercial exploitation of the music they created."
They say that they didn't have to make Love a partner but did so because they thought it was fair, and point out that even if she was still grief-stricken three years after Cobain's suicide, two lawyers representing her interests and her daughter's interests agreed to the partnership.
Since entering into that agreement, they say, Love has repeatedly used Nirvana as a way to promote her own career. Novoselic implies that Love asked them to allow their hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to be used in the film Moulin Rogue as part of her effort to score the lead role in the movie.(The role went to Nicole Kidman.)
He and Grohl also claim Love is trying to interfere with the Nirvana boxed set, which is to be released through Universal Music, in order to gain leverage in her group Hole's legal battle with the company. They also allege Love tried to get Grohl and Novoselic to fire Nirvana's management team and replace them with her manager, and boyfriend, James Farber.
As for Love's comments on what Cobain thought of his band mates, and his plans to break up the band, Novoselic says that they "dishonor Nirvana and dishonor the memory of her husband."
He also accuses her of distorting the facts about Kurt's life and death in interviews. The bassist says he and Grohl have refrained from granting interviews on the subject out of respect for Cobain and his family. "Courtney offered up many interviews on the topic of Kurt's life and death," interviews which he says contained "glaring inaccuracies."