The baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind cover sues the band for child pornography: Spencer Elden, the man who portrayed the baby on the cover of Nirvana’s iconic second album “Nevermind”, issuing the band for child pornography and child sexual abuse.
Elden alleges that the photograph taken by photographer Kirk Weidel and the nude swimming in the pool used by the band on their “Nevermind” cover was child pornography and that he refused to use his image.
The lawsuit was filed against all members of the Nirvana band, including the late singer Kurt Cobain and his widow, Courtney Love. It also includes the names of the band’s art director Robert Fisher, Heather Parry, and producer Guy Oserie (who partially managed Cobain’s estate with Love) – and the labels responsible for cutting and distributing the record, including UMG, Warner Records, and David Geffen’s Geffen Records.
UMG and representatives for Dave Growl and Courtney Love did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Elden is requesting $ 150,000 from each of the said defendants with a total penalty loss not specified. The lawsuit alleges that Nirvana “was sexually exploited commercially” when Elden was four months old.
“Fisher created an image that focused on Spencer’s genitals to enhance the film’s surprisingly obscene nature,” the lawsuit states. “Spencer’s true identity and legal name have always been associated with the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor, which has been distributed and sold worldwide since he was an infant.”
The iconic album cover has been a source of mixed pride and anger for Elden for some time – in 2016 when he turned 25, Elden was profiled by Time magazine and expressed frustration that he had not really seen the money from his comparison being used on the cover.
At the time, Elden told Time that he had tried to take legal action against Geffen Records for compensation, but “did not succeed.” Elden seems to have found another legal way.
Elden also recreated the famous album cover (with swimming twigs, of course) in a photoshoot as an adult and his large chest tattoo “Nevermind” appears in the photos.
“Nevermind” has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and is a diamond certified by the RIAA. After “Nevermind” was certified platinum, Geffen Records reportedly sent Spencer Elden a platinum plaque and Teddy Bear.
“It’s a trip. There is tons and tons of money involved with the album. I think it’s the last little bit of grunge rock. I live in our mom’s house and drive a Honda Civic,” Elden told Time.
“It’s hard not to be upset when you hear how much money has been raised,” Elden added. “I go to a baseball game and think about it: ‘Man, everyone at this baseball game probably looked at my little baby penis,’ I think it’s a violation of some of my human rights. ‘
It is unclear what Elden is doing for a living now, but according to a Time profile in 2016, he lives in Los Angeles with his mother and is focused on “making art and growing tomatoes”. The same article also mentions that Elden was guided by the famous street artist and creator of “Obe” Shepherd Fairy.
Weidel, a photographer, is a friend of Elden’s father Rick Elden and Spencer asked if he could stay for $ 200 at the photoshoot. Rick Elden has explicitly agreed to use his child in a photoshoot – he did a photoshoot for NPR in Pasadena in 2008, where he said, “We had a big party in the pool and no one knew what was going on.”
But the lawsuit alleges that Rick Elden did not formally agree to use his son on the cover. “Neither Spencer nor his legal guardians have signed a release authorizing the use of any images of Spencer or any of his likenesses, and certainly not on commercial child pornography depicting him,” the lawsuit states.
The suit also seems to have placed the pain of blame on the cover on the late Cobain, who actually wanted the live birth in the pool to be on the cover – but it was considered too graphic. In fact, the album Elden was set to sell with a sticker covering the baby’s penis, and Cobain wanted to say, “If you’re bothered by this, you’re a closet pedophile,” but those stickers never happened.
Cobain in 50 or more photos “chose a picture depicting Spencer as a sex worker – caught for a dollar bill, with his penis clearly displayed hanging from a fishhook in front of his naked body.” The lawsuit alleges that Cobain and the band “wanted nude babies images” and “Cobain specifically added a fishhook to make the image even more frightening.”