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Six Pack: Rock Couples

Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love

Perhaps the ultimate rock romance but also one that, like Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen’s relationship, has led to so much wild speculation that it feels almost insensitive to intrude.

The pair – one Nirvana’s tormented frontman, the other Hole’s fiercely confrontational singer – met at the Satyricon nightclub in Portland, Oregon in 1990 with Courtney making most of the running. Kurt was keen to keep her at arm’s length for a while, but admitted he “liked her so much right away”. By 1991 they were a firmly established item, in love with each other as much as they were in love with doing drugs together. By 1992 they were married but by 1994 he had taken his own life.

British film-maker Nick Broomfield’s documentary, Kurt & Courtney, paints a difficult picture of their relationship, while investigating the wave of conspiracy theories that followed Cobain’s death, some of which alleged Courtney had a role to play in it. Love attempted to suppress the documentary and refused to licence Nirvana’s music to be used in it, though 20 years on from the singer’s suicide, there has been nothing to link Courtney to it. As it is, their relationship remains one that will always be marked by tragedy.

Gerard Way and LynZ

Gerard Way and Lindsey Ballatto first met in 2003 shortly after My Chemical Romance had finished work on their second album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. Way’s band played a couple of shows with the band Lindsey played bass for – Mindless Self Indulgence – in New York and New Jersey. “We kind of hit it off back then, but I was in a relationship and nothing transpired,” said Gerard later. Their paths crossed infrequently from then on as MSI’s out-there disco-punk earned the band a reputation for wild live performances and My Chemical Romance embarked on a path to superstardom.

Lindsey and Gerard shared many similarities. Both were art students as teenagers, both were overweight as kids and both had a certain amount of geekishness growing up. “I was the nerdy art girl in the corner and I was the total fat kid,” said Lindsey of her childhood. “I was huge.”

When the pair met again in summer 2007 on the bill for Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution tour, their similarities came to the fore. Gerard had been in a weird place, romantically, having ended one relationship during the then recent recording of The Black Parade and then ending another soon afterwards. He was single at the start of the year and would alternate between enjoying the freedom and getting down about it.

“Well, shit dude, I still get lonely,” he said. “I’ve been enjoying being free and not having to make phone calls. It’s a good feeling at first but then you check into a hotel room and realise there’s no one you have to call, that there’s no one who misses you. There’s no one who misses me like a girlfriend does. I’ll sit there and stare at the wall.”

A few months later, he met Lindsey again and, by September, they were married.

“Literally out of nowhere, someone who’d I’d met four years ago when the band was a baby band, opening for her band, comes back into my life,” he said. “We just picked up where we left off. It’s always when you’re not looking for it. I was totally fine, and then I get hit over the head! It was like getting hit by a truck.”

The couple married backstage at the Coors Amphitheatre in Englewood, Colorado with the service performed by a member of the touring staff who was also a minister. The following day they bought rings in the local mall. Seven years later, they remain happily married and live with daughter Bandit.

Hayley Williams and Chad Gilbert

In 2009, the mood inside the Paramore camp was not good. The previous year they had cancelled a European tour because of “internal issues” and singer Hayley Williams and guitarist Josh Farro’s relationship had caused some of those problems.

What didn’t help was that Hayley had been spending a lot of time with Chad Gilbert, the guitarist from New Found Glory. They met on the 2007 Warped Tour, when Chad was married to Eisley singer Sherri DuPree, and hit it off, before later meeting up again when both bands were on tour in the UK. By February 2008, they were an item and Josh and Hayley had split – much to Josh’s fury.

It made the writing process for Brand New Eyes, the band’s third album, interesting. Hayley wrote a number of lyrics that addressed the situation, some which were pointedly directed at band members. Which didn’t go down that well.

“They were like, ‘This is about us? That sucks – we have to play this every night?’” she said. “And I was like, ‘I can’t be wrong about how I feel.’”

Farro himself was writing angry songs about Williams too. He vented his fury in the guitars for the song Ignorance, only for Williams to use the angst of the track to fuel her lyrics – which were about him and included the line ‘I guess you can’t accept that the change is good’ and thus turned his own song against him. “When Josh wrote this song it sounded exactly the way that I felt, and I was able to get everything out,” she said later, the band carrying on like a pop-punk Fleetwood Mac.

“Hayley presented lyrics to us that were really negative and we didn’t agree with,” said Josh, really quite bitter by the end of the process. “We fought her about how her lyrics misrepresented our band and what we stood for, but in the end she got her way. Instead of fighting her any longer, we decided to just roll over and let it go.”

Chad and Hayley are still happily together, while Josh and his brother Zac left Paramore in 2010 calling the band “manufactured”. Recently, Hayley has been taking on One Direction fans on behalf of her boyfriend, accusing the band’s songwriters of allegedly plagiarising a New Found Glory song.

Andy Biersack and Juliet Simms

Andy Biersack thought he was in love when he was together with the actress Scout Taylor-Compton as an 18-year-old. It turned out he was far from it.

“It was tumultuous and it certainly ended on a weird note,” he said. “We were two kids. It’s nothing more than that. We were just in a hurry to grow up too fast. Looking back, it wasn’t right to be in a dedicated relationship at 17 or 18-years-old. I just didn’t know enough about the world around me.

“It was nobody’s fault and I was still growing up and learning who I was. That’s really no place to be with someone else who is doing the same. At the time, I thought it was the biggest thing in the world and that it will go on and on but then you realise that it isn’t those things.”

He says he felt “passionate, crazy, heart beating in my hand love” back then, but it all came crashing down. And so, in 2011, he went out on the Warped Tour as a single man and with no thoughts of looking for love. He bumped into a girl he had known for a few years, a friend. Juliet Simms was a singer-songwriter who would, oddly enough, go on to come second on the 2012 US version of The Voice. But back in 2011, Andy and her fell for each other in the baking hot parking lots of The Warped Tour.

“Just like anything, it happens when you’re not looking for it,” he says. “I wasn’t looking to meet anybody and certainly not to fall in love and become completely devoted to somebody. But there was this girl I had known for a number of years and one night we just got to talking and we fell in love right there. We’ve been inseparable ever since.”

The pair live together in LA, surrounded by cats and music. “My life is kind of bisected now,” said Andy. “I have my artistic and creative life in the band and I have this girl that I love, and our cats and our house. She’s also a musician our house is also full of music. We’re both writing songs all the time and talking about music and tours.”

Josh Homme and Brody Dalle

As an 18-year-old, Brody Dalle met Rancid’s then 32-year-old Tim Armstrong when they were both playing a festival in Australia. She followed him to LA, marrying him, while her band The Distillers hit the Warped Tour as their reputation grew and he helped oversee her career. She came to see this as him controlling her, however, while he later accused her of using him for a step up in the industry. The divorce, when it came three years later, was messy with Armstrong angrily and emotionally talking about it in the music press. Dalle accused him of using his contacts to get The Distillers blacklisted. “We lost every fucking body. Me and my guys were left there standing alone, holding each other,” she said.

What didn’t help was that, as far as Armstrong was concerned, Dalle had walked out on him for the singer in another band. Josh Homme was then in a difficult place, having found mainstream success with Queens Of The Stone Age’s Songs For The Deaf, he had also just had to kick his friend Nick Oliveri out of the band. He credits Dalle with helping to turn things around for him – not that they could go public on their relationship, since Dalle was still technically married to Armstrong.

“My mother always told me I would just know when the right person came along, but it hadn’t happened,” Homme told Uncut magazine. “I was 29 and I was beginning to think it never would. I was a bit of a slut, to be honest. I was always here today, gone tomorrow, but when I met Brody I was like I’m here today and I’m coming back tomorrow. We had to be very secretive, because she was just starting a divorce process. I went back to do those Desert Sessions [Homme’s side project], and you can tell what I was going through because I was writing stuff like Dead In Love and I Wanna Make It Wit Chu [which he re-recorded for Era Vulgaris]. I was so in love, I was totally revelling in it so much, I was a little paralysed.”

Still together now, the pair have two children and live in Los Angeles.

Travie McCoy and Katy Perry

Katy Perry’s relationship with Russell Brand has somewhat overshadowed the turbulent period she spent with the former Gym Class Heroes frontman Travie McCoy, yet that period was arguably far more important in terms of both of their careers. They got together in 2006, shortly before Perry would have her breakthrough with One Of The Boys and just as Gym Class Heroes’ As Cruel As School Children was marking the band out as a potential successor to Fall Out Boy’s pop punk crown.

But as both of their professional lives took off, their personal lives became hard to maintain. McCoy struggled with an addiction to painkillers and he increasingly found her success hard to deal with, retreating further into his addiction.

“She wasn’t stupid. She knew when I was fucked up,” he said. “I chose drugs over our relationship. As things started taking off for her the more I started to doubt my role in her life. There were times I felt like a stepping ladder.”

He claims she broke things off via email, noting “Someone that you are ready to spend the rest of your life with sends you a fucking email just shitting on your whole parade. It destroyed me.”

But she took it further than that, with many suggesting her 2010 song Drain was about McCoy. “You fall asleep during foreplay ‘Cos the pills you take are more your forte,” she sang, adding: “You think you’re so rock and roll, but you’re really just a joke/ Had the world in the palm of your hands/ But you fucking choked.”

Still, he got the last word in: “I’m just stoked that she finally has a song with some substance on her record.”

Tom Bryant
Tom Bryant

Tom Bryant is The Guardian's deputy digital editor. The author of The True Lives Of My Chemical Romance: The Definitive Biography, he has written for Kerrang!, Q, MOJO, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, The Mirror, the BBC, Huck magazine, the londonpaper and Debrett's - during the course of which he has been attacked by the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass player and accused of starting a riot with The Prodigy. Though not when writing for Debrett's.