Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic Vs. Courtney Love: The Fight For Nirvana Rages On

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Thursday, December 13, 2001 @ 12:14 AM

Nirvana Members Wage War With

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On Wednesday, December 12th, Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic have responded to Courtney Love's lawsuit seeking to break up their Nirvana business partnership, accusing Kurt Cobain's widow of being "motivated solely by her blind self-interest."

Attorney Kelly Corr, who recently replaced Warren J. Rheaume as legal council for the duo, filed defendants' answers, counterclaims, and affirmative defenses to the lawsuit that Love filed May 9th, which seeks to dissolve Nirvana LLC. Love originally created the limited liability company with Grohl and Novoselic in 1997 to control the unreleased music by the influential band. Any major decision regarding Nirvana or Cobain’s music requires a unanimous vote by all three parties.

The former Nirvana members' counterclaims state that the LLC has functioned effectively in releasing 1994's MTV Unplugged in New York and 1996's From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah in addition to managing the reputation and assets of the band. They also note that Love is motivated by her “waning recording and acting career" and is using the suit "to further her own career goals, not to protect Cobain's legacy as she claims."

Love's lawyer in the case, O. Yale Lewis, called the allegations ludicrous. "My client's career is not declining in any sort," Lewis responded to MTV News. "She is sought after as an actress and a musician. I am surprised they would use that, especially when 'waning' could be applied to their own careers."

Grohl and Novoselic are requesting that Judge Robert Alsdorf of the Superior Court of Washington in Seattle to throw out Love's lawsuit, remove her from the LLC and find another representative for Cobain's estate. If that doesn't happen, Corr says her team will begin taking depositions in preparation for a trial, which would start September 30th.

Lewis believes that Grohl and Novoselic are attempting to appear as though they were of equal importance to Nirvana as Cobain was. "That is simply wrong," he said. "The general public doesn't differentiate between Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. He was the lead singer, the lead guitarist and the lead songwriter. He was the will and the force behind that band."

After Corr filed the counterclaims Wednesday, Grohl and Novoselic issued an open letter to Nirvana fans, their first public comments on the case: "We have been mostly silent for the last few years as [Love] filed lawsuits, waged a continuous negative campaign in the media and tried to rewrite history. It is now time to act and speak out."

"[Love's] actions are only about the revitalization of her career motivated solely by her blind self-interest. She couldn't care less about Nirvana fans. She is suing Nirvana's music as a bargaining chip to increase leverage for her personal gain, without any regard for the Nirvana legacy. Our music is just a pawn in her endless legal battles and her obsessive need for publicity and attention."

"Courtney talks and talks about her 'valuable career," the letter continues. "As far as we are concerned, her career is her own affair and of no interest to us. Our concern is when she pastes herself into music she didn't write or perform. By her actions, the Nirvana legacy is becoming tangled up in her own ambitious agenda."

"I think that her career is getting stronger as an actress, a musician, and a political and social activist," Lewis told Allstar News. "It was surprising that they would raise that in their letter because I think the comparison between their independent careers and her independent career does not favor them."

In October, Love filed a separate lawsuit against Universal Music Group that could also give her control of Nirvana's master recordings. It claims Nirvana's contract should have been void after Universal's purchase of Geffen and lists Grohl and Novoselic among the defendants.

The letter also claims that Love is the sole reason the Nirvana box set, which was to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Nirvana's 1991 smash Nevermind, has not been released. It notes the multiple lawsuits Love has filed against her and Nirvana's label (formerly Geffen Records, now Universal Music Group) over her recording contract with Hole and claims, "she couldn't care less about Nirvana fans. She is using Nirvana's music as a bargaining chip to increase leverage for her personal gain, without any regard for the Nirvana legacy. Our music is just a pawn in her endless legal battles and her obsessive need for publicity and attention." "We believe she is improperly holding it hostage for her own personal reasons," asserts Corr. At this point, the box set is indefinitely shelved.

In addition, the duo’s letter address "You Know You're Right," reputedly the last song Cobain recorded before his death in 1994. "We were looking forward to releasing unheard Nirvana material for our personal sense of closure," Grohl and Novoselic wrote. "We only wanted to go on with the assurance of knowing that all of Nirvana's music is where it really belongs — in the hearts and minds of millions of people in the world."

"Love now claims she wants to protect the legacy of Cobain and Nirvana by withholding approval of the public release of Nirvana sound recordings, including Nirvana's previously unreleased recording of the Cobain-authored song 'You Know You're Right,'" asserts the counterclaim. "Yet, Love felt no such protectiveness when it came to her own career, exploiting the cache surrounding Cobain's death for her own benefit by performing the song on MTV after introducing it as Cobain's last song."

In November, Love talked to Access Hollywood about her fight to gain control of the Nirvana master recordings. "What started as a renegotiation turned into horror stories." She added that record executives "need to understand [that they] are dealing with somebody who lost a father and a husband, and that's Shakespearean. It isn't a joke. It's not a coffee patch. It's not 'Oh, we’ll take care of Courtney.' This is dark and evil and Machiavellian with me, and my blood runs black when you mess with that...This business hurt him and hurt him bad, the greed of business hurt him."

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