Frances Cobain was born on August 18, 1992 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. She was named after Frances McKee, the guitarist for the Scottish indie pop duo The Vaselines. Her middle name, Bean, was chosen because Kurt Cobain thought she looked like a kidney bean on the ultrasound.
Before Cobain's birth, there were rumors suggesting that Love, her mother, used heroin during the pregnancy. This scandal intensified when Vanity Fair published Lynn Hirschberg's article "Strange Love" that alleged Love admitted to using heroin even after learning of her pregnancy. Along with husband Kurt Cobain, Love maintained that Vanity Fair took her words out of context. Eventually, child welfare services launched an investigation questioning their parenting abilities. The investigation was eventually dismissed, but not without a significant amount of legal wrangling and Cobain being removed from her parents' custody for a short time, beginning when she was two weeks old. After a lengthy legal battle, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were able to regain custody of their daughter. They employed several nannies over the next two years to help them care for her. According to Michael Azerrad in Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, this incident inspired Kurt Cobain to write the song "Rape Me."
On April 1, 1994, Cobain visited her father, Kurt Cobain, at the Exodus Recovery Center, a rehab center in Marina Del Rey, California, where they played together. This would be the last time Cobain saw her father alive. On the morning of April 8, 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle. A final ceremony was arranged for Kurt Cobain by his mother on May 31, 1999, attended by both Love and Tracy Marander. Cobain was subsequently raised by her mother, aunts, and paternal grandmother. Cobain spent her early years growing up in Seattle and Los Angeles. She was placed again in her grandmother's care for a time after her mother's drug-related arrest in October 2003. Hours after the arrest, Love overdosed on painkillers. Love regained custody of Cobain in 2005.
Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe and actress Drew Barrymore serve as her godfather and godmother respectively.
In August 2006, she was photographed for Elle magazine in her father's famous brown cardigan and pajama pants as part of an article featuring children of rock stars in their parents' clothing. She explained, "I wore his pajamas because he got married in them to my mom in 1992 in Hawaii so I thought they would be cute if I wore them today. He was too lazy to put on a tux so he got married in pajamas!" In February 2008, she appeared in a photo spread for Harper's Bazaar dressed as Evita. Cobain modeled for Hedi Slimane for a web photo series released August 2, 2011. In 2017, Cobain was announced as the face of Marc Jacobs' Spring/Summer 2017 campaign, shot by David Sims.
In July 2010, Cobain debuted a collection of artwork titled Scumfuck under the pseudonym "Fiddle Tim" at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles. On August 4, 2012 Cobain participated in the group show 'MiXTAPE' under her given name. Artists were asked to pick a song and create art inspired by that song. Frances chose the song "Black" by The Jesus and Mary Chain. The eclectic mix of songs chosen were featured for digital download on iTunes. On October 30, 2012, Cobain announced that her first solo exhibition would take place in February 2013.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, the title and cover photograph for the 2005 Nirvana rarities album Sliver: The Best of the Box, were chosen by 13-year old Cobain. Cobain worked as an intern for Rolling Stone magazine from June to August 2008. In 2009, it was reported that Cobain had turned down the role of Alice in Tim Burton's big budget film Alice in Wonderland.
Cobain appeared as a guest vocalist on the song "My Space" from the album Evelyn Evelyn by Evelyn Evelyn, which was released March 30, 2010. Amanda Palmer from Evelyn clarified that Cobain was one of some 20 artists who sang the same line and whose voices were mixed together in the recording. Cobain was also an executive producer on the HBO movie about her father's life, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.
In September 2005, then 13-year-old Cobain gave her first interview, to Teen Vogue where she discussed her personal style and mentioned her parents. Another appeared in the January 2006 issue of i-D, where she expressed negativity over tabloid portrayals of her mother and was quoted as saying, "When you see a lot of lies about her in the tabloids, it can be hurtful." She also gave an interview in 2010 about her art as "Fiddle Tim."
In September 2008, Cobain hosted a "RIP Childhood" 16th birthday celebration at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. It has been called a suicide-themed party in several media reports, but the nature of the theme has also been disputed. The event was funded by her mother, Courtney Love, and included a performance from Mindless Self Indulgence.
On December 11, 2009, a California Superior Court in Los Angeles appointed Wendy O'Connor, her paternal grandmother, and Kimberly Cobain, her father's sister, as temporary co-guardians of Cobain. On December 16, 2009, it was reported that a judge had issued a related temporary restraining order, prohibiting Love from having any direct or indirect contact with her daughter. The papers were filed under the heading "motion to seal all documents... relating to a minor and allegations of domestic violence". Among those documents are Frances Cobain's medical records, according to the filing. On August 18, 2010, Cobain inherited 37% of her late father's estate. Documents showed that Cobain, not Love, now controls the publicity rights to the name and image of her father, Kurt Cobain. In 2011, Cobain bought her first home, a $1.8 million Spanish-style villa in West Hollywood, a few blocks away from Sunset Strip.
Despite controlling her father's estate, Cobain has noted that she is not a fan of Nirvana or other grunge bands, instead preferring their contemporaries Oasis, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Mercury Rev. However, she has expressed that she likes the songs "Territorial Pissings" and "Dumb".
Cobain and musician Isaiah Silva married on June 29, 2014, though the wedding date was widely misreported as occurring circa September 2015. By March 23, 2016, Cobain had filed for divorce.