Courtney Love - Early Life

Early Life

Courtney Michelle Harrison was born in San Francisco, California in 1964, to psychotherapist Linda Carroll and Hank Harrison, publisher and brief manager of the Grateful Dead; consequently Love was featured in a group photo on the back cover of the band's album Aoxomoxoa (1969). Love's parents divorced in 1969 and Harrison's custody was withdrawn after Carroll alleged that he had fed LSD to Love when she was four. Carroll moved the family to Eugene, Oregon, where they lived in nearby Marcola on a commune in what Love described as "a teepee". Love struggled in school and was diagnosed as mildly autistic. Through relationships with two other men, Carroll gave birth to Love's two half-sisters and adopted a son, and later two half-brothers; another male half-sibling of Love's had died in infancy of a heart defect when Love was 10.

In 1972, Carroll moved with her then-husband to a farm in New Zealand, and Love was left in Oregon with her former stepfather and various friends. At age 14, she was arrested for shoplifting a t-shirt and was sent to Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility, a juvenile hall in Salem, Oregon. She spent the following several years in and out of foster homes before becoming legally emancipated at age 16. Love moved to Portland, Oregon and lived in the Northwest District, supporting herself by working illegally as an exotic dancer, a DJ, and various odd jobs, and intermittently took classes at Portland State University studying English.

In 1981, Love was granted a small trust fund through her adoptive grandparents, which she used to travel to England and Ireland; there, she was accepted into Trinity College due to high test scores, where she studied theology for two semesters. She also became acquainted with musician Julian Cope in Liverpool and moved into his house briefly before returning to the United States. Love has said that she "didn't have a lot of social skills", and that she learned them while frequenting gay clubs with friends.

Love continued to relocate frequently, spending time in Portland and San Francisco (where she briefly studied at San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Art Institute), and also took stint jobs illegally working at strip clubs in Japan and Taiwan. In 1985, Love sent in an audition tape for the role of Nancy Spungen in the biopic Sid & Nancy (1986), and caught the attention of director Alex Cox, who wrote a small role for her in the film. She was subsequently offered a lead part in his next film, a spaghetti Western titled Straight to Hell (1987), which starred an array of punk rock icons and other well known actors, although the film was poorly received. Love returned to Oregon, and then retreated to Anchorage, Alaska for several months where she returned to stripping to support herself.

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