Alt-rocker Kurt Cobain, the Gen X idol and Nirvana frontman, shot himself in the head in his Seattle home on April 5, 1994. He was 27 years old. He left behind a country full of grieving grunge fans, his wife Courtney Love, and the little baby, Frances Bean Cobain. Frances Bean Cobain was just 18 months old when her father died. The tumultuous relationship between her unconventional parents had always been a salacious news topic, and in the wake of Cobain’s death Love’s motherhood was placed under intense scrutiny. Frances Bean Cobain was raised by Love, as well as her aunts and grandparents. Today, she is 28 years old and works as a model, visual artist, and occasional musician.
Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love
As the first couple of the 1990’s grunge scene, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love definitely met at a concert; exactly which one is up for debate. As the Hole frontwoman, Love had her own burgeoning music career. But Kurt Cobain was the unofficial king of Seattle when they coupled up in 1991. Instantly bonded through heavy drug use and a mutual obsession, they were married by 1992 with a baby on the way.
Lynn Hirschberg’s infamously unflattering Vanity Fair feature, “Strange Love: The Story of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love” appeared in 1992 and forever tainted the public perception of Cobain’s new wife. Love came off as an insatiable partner, desperate for fame and dependent on drugs. In the piece, an anonymous record exec is quoted saying of the couple: “She’s going to be famous and he already is, but unless something happens, they’re going to self-destruct. I know they’re both going to be big stars. I just don’t want to be a part of it.” They weren’t wrong.
As soon as Kurt Cobain wed Courtney Love — at the height of Nirvana’s popularity — he began retreating from the public and using more heroin. The couple attempted to get clean for the birth of Frances Bean Cobain and failed, although Love contends that she never used while pregnant. (This fact is disputed in the Vanity Fair article, and led to an investigation by child welfare services.) In the spring of 1994, Cobain checked into a rehab program in Los Angeles, California. The toddler Frances Bean Cobain was taken to visit her father there, and they spent the day playing together on April 1, 1994. Less than a week later, the rock star was dead at the age of 27.
Meet Frances Bean Cobain
Kurt Cobain’s daughter Frances Bean was always going to be a celebrity. Photos of the little girl in utero were included in the artwork for Nirvana’s hit single, “Lithium.” Her godfather is R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe and her godmother is the actress Drew Barrymore. But despite a seemingly fabulous lifestyle, Frances Bean had a turbulent childhood forever marked by the continuation of her mother’s drug use and the tragedy of her father’s suicide. A temporary restraining order was placed on Courtney Love to prevent contact with her daughter.
But Courtney Love, now sober, maintains a strong bond with her daughter today. Speaking to RuPaul on the podcast “What’s the Tee?” Frances Bean Cobain said of her mother: “When my mom is on a right and the healthy path she is one of the most fulfilling, beautiful, intelligent, kind people that I have ever met.” Acknowledging her mother’s self-destructive tendencies, Cobain also said, “She is so deeply empathetic and so intelligent that when she has to sit inside of her skin, she doesn’t know how to handle that.”
Frances Bean Loses One of Cobain’s Guitars
The interview with RuPaul also offered listeners some access into Frances Bean Cobain’s finances. In 2010, Cobain inherited 37% of her late father’s estate; she also controls all publicity rights to Kurt Cobain’s name and image. So she’s pretty much set for life. But Frances Bean admitted that “It feels like money from somebody that I’ve never met, let alone earned myself” and she’s been working to better her own financial literacy.
Aside from maintaining the Kobain estate, Frances Bean has appeared as a model for Elle Magazine (in which she donned her father’s famous wedding pajamas), Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, the designer Hedi Slimane, and for Marc Jacobs. She also attended Bard College and interned at Rolling Stone magazine. Later, in an interview with her former employer, Frances Bean made the surprising revelation that she does not, in fact, like grunge music. Her favorite bands are Oasis and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. (Although she does love the Nirvana song, “Territorial Pissings.”)
Frances Bean Cobain married rock musician Isaiah Silva in 2014 and filed for divorce just two years later. Despite the short marriage, the divorce proceedings got messy when Silva took Cobain to court over ownership of one of Kurt Cobain’s guitars. Silva ended up with the family heirloom.