By speaking out about recent allegations against her daughter-in-law, the
mother of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain proves once again that when the
chips are down, you can always count on mom.
For the past seven months, Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, has been battling
Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl over the rights to
the band’s previously unreleased material. Recently, the attacks and
counter-attacks have resembled a heated military confrontation. On December
12, Novoselic and Grohl issued an open letter stating that Nirvana was an
equal partnership when Cobain was alive, and criticizing Love for trying to
usurp the band’s legacy for her own personal gains (see “Who Speaks For
Nirvana? Grohl, Novoselic Lash Out At Courtney Love” ).
Late last week, Love replied with her own statement asserting Cobain
“refused to sign a partnership agreement with the other members of Nirvana
when he was alive” and that he is credited with “over 93 percent” of the
group’s copyrights. She added that the current LLC partnership that was
enacted in 1997 and divides Nirvana’s interests into three equal parts was
“forced upon Kurt’s heirs,” whom, she alleges, only signed the agreement
because they were told that if they didn’t sign, all Nirvana interests would
revert to Novoselic and Grohl.
Now, as lawyers for both sides coach their clients on their next
steps, Cobain’s mother, Wendy O’Connor, has issued a strongly-worded, somewhat
rambling statement that rebukes Novoselic and Grohl for committing character
assassination against Love and calls for the dissolution of the LLC
arrangement. The open letter, which supports Love’s fight
against the surviving members of Nirvana, was distributed
through Love’s publicist James Barber.
“What Krist and Dave filed last week just really set Wendy off,” Barber said. “She’s really upset by all this.”
In addition to making vehement comments about how her son was the heart and
soul of the band and how the LLC partnership is “ridiculous beyond
comprehension,” O’Connor insisted Novoselic and Grohl never wrote a single
Nirvana song. (It should be noted that both Novoselic and Grohl are credited with co-writing “Scentless Apprentice,” “Aneurysm” and “[New Wave] Polly,” and Novoselic also
got writing credits for “Hairspray Queen” and “Dive.” All other songs are
credited to “Cobain/Nirvana.”)
In her letter, O’Connor asserted that Nirvana was “never a partnership of
any sort” and that Cobain’s former bandmates, management and label have been
taking advantage of both her and Love for years. “My family has suffered
hugely and been ripped off a fortune,” she said.
O’Connor concluded her statement by emphasizing that she’s not looking to
take advantage of Nirvana’s success, and only wants to represent Cobain’s
best interests. “I know that my son would want me to stand up for him and
his family in this moment of what I can only describe as total betrayal,”
Novoselic and Grohl’s attorney Kelly Corr was dumbfounded by O’Connor’s
accusations. “Her letter sadly lacks any basis in fact,” he said. “She says
Nirvana was never a partnership of any sort. That’s just factually false.
There’s federal tax returns that prove that it was an equal partnership.”
At this point, Corr said there are no plans to take any action against
O’Connor. Instead, Novoselic and Grohl will continue their efforts to have
Love’s case against them dismissed. “If that doesn’t succeed, we’re gonna go
to trial and we’re gonna win,” Corr said.
In May, Love filed a lawsuit to sever the LLC contract and assume control
of Nirvana (see “Courtney Love Sues For Control Of Nirvana’s Master
Recordings” ). Since
then, the future of a planned box set and the release of many unheard
Nirvana tracks have been put in limbo.