The last time that we heard from ’90s rock legend Courtney Love, she was giving one of the most intense interviews in the recent history of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, and then she was elaborating on her story about the time that Brad Pitt got her fired from Fight Club because she wouldn’t let him play Kurt Cobain in a movie. Today, Courtney Love has more to say. She’s written a new editorial for The Guardian about the sexism inherent in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s inductions.
Courtney Love opens her Guardian piece by talking about how much work it is to maintain any kind of success or relevance as a woman in music. She also describes how the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame started off with a slate of all-male nominees — that the institution didn’t induct Sister Rosetta Tharpe until 2018 and that it still hasn’t inducted Big Mama Thornton. She points out that 8.48% of the Hall’s inductees are woman and that there are just nine women on the 31-member nominating board.
In her piece, Courtney Love points out that the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame took a long time to recognize Nina Simone, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, and solo Tina Turner, and she makes the case that some of this year’s nominees, Kate Bush in particular, should’ve been in a long time ago. She points out the case of Chaka Khan, who’s been nominated many times but never inducted. Love doesn’t mention that her band Hole isn’t in the Hall Of Fame, but I’m mentioning that right now.
Here’s Courtney Love’s argument about why those omissions have real-world consequences:
You can write the Rock Hall off as a “boomer tomb” and argue that it is building a totem to its own irrelevance. Why should we care who is in and who is not? But as scornful as its inductions have been, the Rock Hall is a bulwark against erasure, which every female artist faces whether they long for the honour or want to spit on it. It is still game recognising game, history made and marked.
The Rock Hall is a king-making force in the global music industry. (In the US, it is broadcast on HBO.) Induction affects artists’ ticket prices, their performance guarantees, the quality of their reissue campaigns (if they get reissued at all). These opportunities are life-changing – the difference between touring secondary-market casinos opening for a second-rate comedian, or headlining respected festivals. The Rock Hall has covered itself in a sheen of gravitas and longevity that the Grammys do not have. Particularly for veteran female artists, induction confers a status that directly affects the living they are able to make. It is one of the only ways, and certainly the most visible, for these women to have their legacy and impact honoured with immediate material effect. “These ain’t songs, these is hymns,” to quote Jay-Z.
On Instagram, Courtney Love has taken issue with some of the edits on her piece:
@guardian censored ? my line “RUN BY A GOVERNING BOARD MADE UP OF MUSIC’S MOST MALEVOLENT, A VIRTUAL BLACK HOLE OF THE HELLISH.” See board list (slide 2) Remember #freebritney? Yeah. All them & MORE very bad actors.
I never used the word ‘marginalized’ applied to 51 percent of the worlds population (censored by a woman! Is this why people use substack?)
You can read that Guardian op-ed here.