Finding Love at 50
Courtney Love. Picture: Supplied

It was at some point in the mid-90s that Courtney Love began the transition from walking tabloid headline to mainstream success story.

The poster girl of grunge culture appeared to clean up her act after she was cast as Hustler boss Larry Flynt's junkie wife Althea in The People vs. Larry Flynt. Walking the red carpet for the 1997 Golden Globes, where she had received a nomination, with a movie-star makeover (complete with new nose), the media wondered was this the same Courtney Love who would crowd-surf sans underwear?

Suddenly Love was the face of Versace and teaming up with former boyfriend and serial nemesis Billy Corgan for her band Hole's most successful album, 1998's Celebrity Skin.

But then it all fell apart for the controversial widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Over the past 15 years there have been tales of drug overdoses, rehab, sensational court cases, fraud, libel and royalties - and no credible albums or movies.

But after reaching the 50 milestone last week, Love appears to be finally growing up. "I had to go deal with a little thing called drugs and, you know, I just did," Love says frankly over the phone from Hollywood.

"I also got creeped out by it all and I left. I am good at that. I am good at walking away from something right before the zenith.

"I did it with the movie-star thing too. Maybe I am self-destructive. I can't explain it. And now it's over, so I am going back to acting, so hopefully your disappointment in me will be undisappointed. "

Love has already started filming the role of a preschool teacher in the final season of popular motorcycle drama series Sons of Anarchy. But this isn't the only indication she is finally at peace with herself and the world.

After a big falling out, she has reconciled with Hole (a reunion of the Celebrity Skin line-up is set for next year), is communicating with estranged daughter Frances Bean Cobain (via Twitter) and hugged Dave Grohl when Nirvana were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. "It was deep. We were all so awkward, then we realised why we were there," she says of reuniting with the remaining members of Nirvana (drummer Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic).

One thing they didn't agree on was the acts to pay tribute to Nirvana. While Love says Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon singing Aneurysm was pure punk rock, Kiwi teenager Lorde's rendition of All Apologies was just OK.

"I thought (Lorde) was OK. I didn't think it was the best, I thought St Vincent was better," she says. "I think she should have killed the performance. I like her and I bought the whole record but she just didn't kill it for me. It didn't have Kim Gordon at the age of f....ing whatever rolling around with her panties showing, singing off-key - that was punk rock.

"Kurt would've liked that - that was some punk rock s…"

But Love says she isn't about to "slag" Lorde, especially not on social media. In 2009 she was the first celebrity to be sued over tweets after she defamed fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir in 140-character jabs and ended up settling the case for nearly $US450,000 ($480,800).

These days she says the only thing to be worried about from her Twitter is her favourite expletive. "I do say f…, but apart from that I don't have any problems with Twitter anymore," she says.

Her 21-year-old daughter appears to have taken after her outspoken mother when it comes to Twitter, recently criticising Lana Del Rey for "romanticising" the death of young musicians such as her father who killed himself in 1994 aged 27.

"I am on Frances' side on this. She could have chosen not to get involved but she was hurt by it," Love says. "But it wasn't a personal attack, it was like 'dude you have no idea what you are talking about'."

The old Courtney Love might have taken a more aggressive approach, like the time she threatened to beat journalist Lynn Hirschberg with Quentin Tarantino's Oscar statuette for describing Love as shooting heroin while pregnant, resulting in the newborn being temporarily removed from her parents' home.

Love says she would love to record new material with Corgan, who co-wrote Celebrity Skin's biggest hits, but says he hasn't had the "growing-up" epiphany she has experienced.

"He holds grudges forever and you don't even know what they are about. OK Billy, like please. Like if me and Dave (Grohl) can bury the f....ing hatchet, and that was hard, man."

It has been 15 years since Love last toured Australia. This time it won't be with Hole but as a solo artist with her own band playing what fans want to hear.

Love had received a number of offers to return Down Under but wasn't interested in doing the Big Day Out again and pulled out of Soundwave three years ago when she realised she was on the same bill as Van Halen.

She says the last time she played Perth it ended in disaster when she hit her breast implant while rocking out on stage.

"I broke my boob with a tambourine. Wow. But they are all real now so it's all good," she says with a laugh.

Like Madonna in the 1980s when girls flocked to her concerts wearing costumes in homage, a Hole gig saw similar numbers of awkward girls with peroxide blonde hair, smeared red lipstick and ripped baby-doll dresses rush to the mosh pit to hear angst-fuelled punk-rock anthems such as Doll Parts and Miss World.

Love says those fans are still there and it is one of the things she enjoys best about touring (and it also beats "sitting around watching Sex and the f…ing City because I have nothing else to do").

"The fans come out and they are still wearing those clothes. I think they are longing for some rock'n'roll," she says.

The West Australian

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