Club 27: Kristen Pfaff

Today’s member is Kristen Pfaff.


Here’s some background of her courtesy of Wikipedia.

Kristen Marie Pfaff (May 26, 1967 – June 16, 1994) was an American musician, best known as the bassist for alternative rock band Hole from 1993 to 1994. Prior to Hole, Pfaff was the bassist and backing vocalist for Minneapolis-based band Janitor Joe.

Janitor Joe were becoming a staple of the Minneapolis sound, influenced by the Pacific Northwest’s early grunge sound and by the sharper, faster DC post-hardcore scene, as well as the stop-start distortion of the Butthole Surfers, Big Black and others on the Touch and Go label. Pfaff’s playing style was central to Janitor Joe’s relentless assault both live and on record, and she and Breuer both contributed songs to Big Metal Birds: “Both operate within easy reach of the line separating punishment and reward: Pfaff’s contributions (the surly “Boys in Blue”) tend to be slightly more spacious, while Breuer’s (“One Eye,” for instance) stipulate that drummer Matt Entsminger maintain perpetual motion”, wrote David Sprague of Trouser Press.

The growing Minneapolis scene was beginning to attract music press attention in 1993. Amphetamine Reptile released a tour single, “Stinker”, and Janitor Joe began to tour nationally. It was on one such tour in California that year that Pfaff was scouted by Eric Erlandson and Courtney Love of Hole, who were at the time looking for a new bassist. Love invited Pfaff to play with Hole; Pfaff declined and returned to Minneapolis, but Erlandson and Love continued to pursue her.


Pfaff, initially reluctant to leave Minneapolis and join Hole, reconsidered after advice from her father, Norman: “From a professional point of view, there was no decision”, he later told Seattle Weekly, “because they’re already on Geffen Records and already have this huge following in England… if you’re wanting to move up the ladder, that’s the way to go.” Following international critical acclaim for their first, independent album, Pretty on the Inside, Hole had generated a great deal of major-label interest, eventually signing an eight-album deal with Geffen Records for a reported $3 million.

In 1993, Pfaff moved to Seattle, Washington, to work with the other members of Hole on Live Through This, the major-label follow-up to Pretty on the Inside. The band’s new line-up – Love, Erlandson, Pfaff and Patty Schemel on drums – entered the studio in early 1993 to begin rehearsals. “That’s when we took off,” Eric Erlandson said of Pfaff joining. “All of a sudden we became a real band.”

Later years

Pfaff’s time in Seattle was a creatively rich period, and she formed close friendships with Eric Erlandson, and Kurt Cobain. While working on the platinum-selling album Live Through This, Pfaff and Erlandson dated, and stayed together for most of 1993, remaining close even after splitting up. All was not well, however; while living in Washington’s ‘heroin capital’, Pfaff developed a problem with drug use. “Everybody was doing it. Everyone, everyone. All our friends were junkies. It was ridiculous. Everybody in this town did dope”, said Love of this period in the Seattle music scene. By most accounts, Pfaff’s own drug use was relatively moderate: “Kristen…dabbled in drugs before she was in our band, in Minneapolis, but it was very light”, Erlandson told Craig Marks of Spin. “She moved to Seattle and felt disconnected from everything, and she made friends, drug connections, which I told her not to do. The only way you can survive in this town is if you don’t make those connections.” As a result, after the album’s completion, Pfaff decided to move back to Minnesota.

Pfaff entered a Minneapolis detox center for heroin addiction in February 1994 and took a sabbatical from Hole later that spring, to tour with Janitor Joe. “She went on tour… and when she came back from that, she was clean”, says Erlandson. In the wake of Cobain’s death, Pfaff decided to leave Hole, and return to Minneapolis permanently. After her tour with Janitor Joe, however, Pfaff made plans to return to Seattle in order to retrieve the rest of her belongings.


Around 9:30 am on June 16, 1994, Paul Erickson found Pfaff dead in her apartment, a friend with whom she had planned to leave for Minneapolis that day. On the floor there was a bag containing syringes and drug paraphernalia. Pfaff’s death was attributed to “acute opiate intoxication”. She died 2 months after Cobain, who was a close friend as well as the husband of Hole’s frontwoman Courtney Love.

Her father, Norman Pfaff, described her as “bright, personable, wonderful…very, very talented, smart, and she always seemed to be in control of her circumstances. Last night she wasn’t. “In the book Love & Death, released April 2004, Kristen Pfaff’s mother, Janet Pfaff, states she has never accepted the official story regarding her daughter’s death. Authors Wallace and Halperin interviewed Janet in August 2003.

Also, Eric Erlandson, who was the last person to see Pfaff alive before she overdosed on heroin, would later comment: “I admit, I made some stupid mistakes with some people, and people are dead because of my stupid mistakes. That’s what I want to say. And I want to use that so that other people don’t make the same mistakes that I made, and other people start understanding. I get emotional about this. We’ve all lost people.”

Here’s a link to when Kristen was with her old band Janitor Joe before joining Hole.  Enjoy

F.M. Laster

“I never loved another person the way I loved myself”. – Mae West


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