‘Nevermind’ baby sues Nirvana for sexual exploitation

Published August 26, 2021, 7:33 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

(FILES) In this file photo a sign with the image of Kurt Cobain is seen in Kurt Cobain Park in Aberdeen, Washington on April 1, 2014, near the house where Cobain lived and committed suicide. – The US man who as a baby was photographed on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind album, one of the most famous album covers of all time, is suing the band for sexual exploitation, according to a lawsuit. Spencer Elden was pictured in 1991, when he was four months old, naked in a swimming pool reaching for a dollar bill on a fish hook. The album went on to sell 30 million copies, with somes like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” becoming American pop culture touchstones. But neither Elden nor his legal guardians “ever signed a release authorizing the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness, and certainly not of commercial child pornography depicting him,” the lawsuit said. (Photo by Sébastien VUAGNAT / AFP)

The US man who featured as a baby on the cover of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album, one of the most famous album covers of all time, is suing the band for sexual exploitation, according to a lawsuit.

Spencer Elden was photographed in 1991, when he was four months old, naked in a swimming pool reaching for a dollar bill on a fish hook. The album went on to sell 30 million copies, with songs such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” becoming American pop cultural touchstones.

But neither Elden nor his legal guardians “ever signed a release authorizing the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness, and certainly not of commercial child pornography depicting him,” the lawsuit said.

It also said Elden had never received any compensation for the image, and asked for $150,000 in damages from each of the 15 defendants — including the surviving former members of the band, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, as well as the estate of the late lead singer Kurt Cobain, and the photographer, Kirk Weddle.

The album cover “exposed Spencer’s intimate body part and lasciviously displayed Spencer’s genitals from the time he was an infant to the present day,” the lawsuit, filed in California, said.

It said Elden had suffered “extreme and permanent emotional distress,” as well as “lifelong loss of income earning capacity,” among other consequences.

Representatives for Nirvana or the members’ record labels have not yet responded to the lawsuit.

Elden recreated the album cover multiple times, including for its 25th anniversaries.

Weddle, the original photographer, was a friend of his father’s, the family told NPR in 2008.

They held a pool party during which Elden posed for the then-unknown band. Elden’s parents were paid $200 for the original shoot.

 
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