Lollapalooza ’95 Had No Shortage Of Courtney Love Drama

Perry Farrell’s inaugural Lollapalooza festival-tour launched in the summer of 1991, and it returned every year till 1997, after which it went on hiatus for a while. The last “classic” Lollapalooza lineup, though, came in 1995, when the tour featured Sonic Youth, Hole, Pavement, Beck, the Jesus Lizard, Sinead O’Connor, Elastica, and Cypress Hill, among others. Today, the Washington Post published a fantastic oral history of the ’95 tour. It’s full of great anecdotes, but what’s most noticeable are the number of those anecdotes centered around Courtney Love. Of course, Courtney was only a year removed from the death of her husband, and even in the best of circumstances, she seems to attract drama, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that she was (apparently) the center of attention for much of the tour. Here are some of the highlights:

On the subject of the tour’s kickoff show:

Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson: We had bulk candy backstage. I go, “Courtney, there’s [Bikini Kill frontwoman] Kathleen Hanna. You should offer her some candy.” She grabbed the candy and just threw it at her. Everybody was like, “Oh my God, she punched her in the face,” but from what I saw, she threw the candy, and kind of slapped her in the direction of her face. I don’t know if she actually hit her, or what. It doesn’t matter, it was not cool. . . . The whole tour started on that note.

Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur: Courtney did a fake cat hiss, like a joke. Like, “We’re at war” kind of a thing , like “Sss!” . . . making a weird joke in passing. Next thing you know, there’s this explosion of arguing. Maybe a shove, I can’t remember. Kathleen Hanna screamed at the top of her lungs: “I challenge you to a feminist debate in any university in America!” I was like, “What is this?” It was hilarious.

On the subject of Sinead O’Connor parting ways with Lollapalooza mid-tour:

Erlandson: The day before [Sinead] left the tour, she hopped on our bus and went into the back lounge area, which was reserved for Queen Courtney. Talking to her in person, I just was blown away by how down-to-Earth [Sinead] was. We get off at four or five in the morning at the next hotel, and I just have a vision of her walking into the Four Seasons barefoot. Then she left the tour the next day. It was almost like, “I wonder what Courtney said to her” [laughs] . . . At the time, I thought that she was looking for an excuse. She was not happy with what was going on with her life, then talking to Courtney somehow gave her the inspiration to head to the airport and just quit. I never really found out what happened. She definitely was like an outsider.

Sinead O’Connor: I didn’t feel like an outsider, and I didn’t know anyone else felt that way . . . I left the tour because I was afflicted in the heat by the same condition the poor Duchess of Cambridge [Kate Middleton] had on both her pregnancies. Acute puking at all hours, basically. I had no idea I was pregnant until I found myself puking all the time.

Lollapalooza tour director Stuart Ross: Courtney did come up to me at the next show and said, “Stuart, I just want to tell you, Sinead’s crazy.” And I said, “Courtney, coming from you, I consider that expert testimony.”

On the subject of backstage camaraderie:

Pavement percussionist Bob Nastanovich: She [Courtney] was terrifying to me. I remember scolding her one time, she threw a temper tantrum in the dressing room. She took two jars of salsa and threw them against a concrete wall, and I had just had enough, and I went in there and yelled at her. I was like, “Some poor person’s gonna have to clean that up.” Everybody was concerned about her; that kind of brought everybody together. It was kind of a really nice group.

On the subject of Sonic Youth’s prickly relationship with Hole:

Auf der Maur: I was saddened by what I almost perceived as Sonic Youth’s bullying of Courtney. That lady was a widow, and she was on a survival path [after] a very traumatic moment in her life, and I didn’t think the cool kids should be bullying and picking on her. She was an easy target. . . . I never would think Lee [would speak] against her, because Lee was very nice. I just remember hearing, like, Sonic Youth is blogging, and they’re dissing Courtney.

Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo: Oh my God, you could write a book on just Courtney from that tour. We remain friends to this day . . . but it was a messy time. I think she had a big chip on her shoulder, I think she thought she should have been the headliner, because she was maybe the most newsworthy act on the bill. There’s no doubt that there was a certain contingent of people who just came to see the train wreck that was going to be Courtney every night, and were filing out halfway through our set.

Amazing. Anyway, that’s just the Courtney stuff (notably, Courtney herself wasn’t quoted in the piece), but the whole article is a blast and you should definitely read it.