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Hank Harrison, Courtney Love’s Estranged Father, Has Died

Hank Harrison
Hank Harrison

Very privately, Hank Harrison, Courtney Love’s estranged father, died of heart failure on January 23rd.  With a pedigree like his – he was briefly the manager of Phil Lesh’s band, the Warlocks, which soon became the Grateful Dead and wrote two books about the band – I would have expected a little blurb about his passing in Rolling Stone, Spin, or Pitchfork. The death of Bethany Cosentino’s cat was mentioned everywhere! But nothing, not a line for Hank anywhere except for an article in the Galt Herald, a local paper located in the small California town where Harrison lived.

Isn’t it a bit strange? Music magazines never miss to report about the death of a celebrity’s relative, but of course, the situation here was quite unusual. Harrison was also an author who had contributed to newspapers, magazines, and journals, and his most recent book, “Love Kills: The Assassination of Kurt Cobain,” published in 2017, presented the controversial theory that Kurt Cobain’s death was not a suicide but a murder and that his own daughter Courtney Love was involved in his assassination. The last time I saw a mainstream publication approaching the subject was with this 2014 Stereogum article, which was quoting other articles published by tabloids such as RadarOnline and The Daily Mail. However, Harrison’s book never received any attention from mainstream media, just like his death, which was unassumingly announced by Catriona Watson, his wife of 42 years, on social media.

Naturally, there is no trace of Hank’s death on Courtney Love’s social media, but, saying that their relationship was strained would be an understatement. When you accuse your daughter of participating in a murder conspiracy, it’s quite understandable but their fallout predated Harrison’s book. They have accused each other of the worst: Love has claimed that her father gave her LSD when she was just a toddler, something Harrison has of course always vehemently denied. The conspiracy even goes as far as to declare that Harrison was a C.I.A handler for Kurt Cobain, a role linked to the secret MK-ultra project. But Harrison’s connection to LSD is nevertheless very real as it was also reported that he founded the LSD Rescue in 1966, the nation’s first 24-hour, telephone, drug intervention center. Harrison is also famous for his two books about the Grateful Dead, “The Dead Book,” published in 1973, and “The Dead,” which came out in 1980. But like a lot of things around Harrison, his books are not highly regarded by the Dead fans.

In 1969, Harrison lost custody of his daughter in a divorce, and barely had contact with her, whereas he has never met his son-in-law Kurt Cobain, nor his granddaughter, Frances. If you read anything about Hank and Courtney’s respective lives, depending on who oversees the narrative, you will get very different stories … and since they are both known to lie a lot, who knows where the truth is! 17- year-old Love traveled to Ireland in 1981 to visit her father, who said they lived together there for seven months and got along fine. Meanwhile, she said she barely stayed there for a few days because he beat her up badly. It goes on and on for every part of their lives. According to what I have read, Hank and Courtney haven’t seen each other since 1993 when Harrison drove Love to a club in the Bay area, where her band, Hole, was playing. He apparently didn’t stay to see his daughter play.

Hank Harrison had a degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University, he also studied anthropology, was the author of many books, had several jobs as a journalist (he worked as the writer-in-residence at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga in 1972, won a six-month journalism residency in Las Vegas as feature editor for the Las Vegas Sun… ), he established his own publishing company, Arkives Press. He was also interested in medieval Arthurian literature and Megalithic or Stonehenge European civilizations, and in the end, he was certainly no one-trick pony… as a matter of fact, he was also rescuing ponies (and other animals) with his partner.

But I still don’t know exactly who Hank Harrison was. A great opportunist or a truth holder? A shady character who knew how to exploit people around him or a clever man who had figured out a lot of stuff? In any case, the silence of the media regarding his death is odd. It is not as if Spin magazine had ever missed an occasion to write about Courtney Love, so what’s going on?


  1. Itolduso on February 12, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Nobody cares. Good!

    • J.R.Betts on April 13, 2022 at 7:25 pm

      He wasn’t in the book of life of history re-writers and scandalous social-un-reformists who think we actual artists are just free natural resources to make dubb out of and that it won’t come back to them.

    • Sarah Nichols on April 19, 2022 at 9:56 am

      Actually there are people who care. A correction to the above statement regarding the last time Hank saw Courtney; the year is correct however he did stay to see her band play. I know because my friend Shannon and I drove him there. Courtney would not let us in being the raging bitch that she is, but her father went in while my friend and I had drinks down the road. Hank was always hopefully to regaining a relationship with Courtney in the earlier years but her Heroin addiction made her unpredictable to say the least. So yes, people do care about Hank Harrison and he was a great man and not a violent one by any means. I highly doubt he beat up Courtney in Ireland. Hank and Triona, Hank partner who was from Ireland have told many stories about the time Courtney was there, it wasn’t as Courtney described. For the sake of Hank reputation I had to reply. He was a great man, a fantastic writer and he will be missed dearly.

      • Cybele on May 6, 2022 at 1:33 am

        I’m so glad you stood up for Hank. Hank is still loved and always will be.

      • Eduardo on June 17, 2022 at 4:57 pm

        Thank you. I think the cold ‘no one cares’ is not only cruel to Hank, but it’s kind of a symptom of our society. Poster probably doesn’t even know Hank’s work. It’s a shame.

    • Diane Jones on June 17, 2022 at 11:53 pm

      Actually he was a wonderful person who used very strong language.
      He was a great conversationist.

  2. Kathy Jones on February 21, 2022 at 12:27 am

    Hank you are missed! Such a wonderful man and friend! R.I. P. Hank ❤️

  3. Season Mayer on March 3, 2022 at 2:40 am

    I knew Hank for a few years now. A very smart, funny, BIG HEARTED man! You will be deeply missed!! Much love from Season & Anthony

  4. Adriana on March 27, 2022 at 9:11 am

    I interviewed Hank Harrison in 2021. It was a very interesting abd genuine talk. I’m sure that he will be greatly missed by many. RIP Hank Harrison 🙏❤

  5. J.R. Betts on April 13, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    He was one of my close friends and on the good side.Shure miss him. He actually appreciated my songwriting which most of my friends think is just an inconvenience.

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