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.
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 she 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," she said.
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. Since then, the future of a planned box set and the release of many unheard Nirvana tracks have been put in limbo.