Kristen Marie Pfaff (May 26, 1967 - June 16, 1994) was an American bass guitarist, best known for her work with Hole.
Pfaff was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, attending Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart. She spent a short time in Europe and briefly attended Boston College before ultimately finishing at the University of Minnesota. She studied classical piano and cello. While living in Minneapolis, Minnesota following her graduation, Pfaff taught herself to play bass guitar. She, guitarist/vocalist Joachim Breuer (formerly of Minneapolis band the Bastards) and drummer Matt Entsminger formed the band Janitor Joe.
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."
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."
Pfaff entered rehab for heroin addiction in the winter of 1993, and took a sabbatical from Hole in spring 1994, to tour with Janitor Joe. "She went on tour… and when she came back from that, she was clean", says Erlandson. Soon after her return, her friend Kurt Cobain died in April 1994. In the wake of Cobain's death, Pfaff decided to leave Hole and Seattle, and return to Minneapolis to rejoin Janitor Joe permanently.
Around 9:30am on June 16, 1994, Pfaff was found dead in her apartment by Paul Erickson, 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," and ruled accidental.
Melissa Auf Der Maur replaced Pfaff on bass for Hole.
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