Why is the baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind album art suing the band?

Why is the baby on Nirvana’s Nevermind album art suing the band? (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The American rock group led by the late singer Kurt Cobain has been the subject of further criticism today after the man who appeared on the cover of the chart-topping album Nevermind sued the group for damages and interests.

Posted by Nirvana on September 24, 1991, Nevermind features as the cover image a photo of Spencer Elden, now 30, swimming naked underwater at just four months old – swimming towards a dollar bill hanging from a hook in the water in front of him.

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The image, along with the hit album, achieved cult status and worldwide fame.

But the cover star is now suing the group for their use of the controversial image.

Here’s who Spencer Elden is and why he filed a lawsuit against Nirvana for the Nevermind album cover.

Who is Spencer Elden?

Now 30, Spencer Elden is a United States citizen who rose to fame by appearing on the cover of the iconic ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ Nirvana as a young child.

Born February 7, 1991, Elden is an artist living in Los Angeles, California.

At four months old, Elden appeared on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind album in 1991, which helped catapult the bands to new heights of rock stardom.

It sold a million copies and was considered a platinum record just nine weeks after its initial release, an unexpected success for the group.

Having reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart in January 1992 and selling an average of 300,000 copies per week, by its 20th anniversary in 2011, Nevermind had sold 30 million copies worldwide.

Elden and his parents, however, would have only earned $ 200 from the initial photoshoot, according to the Nirvana cover star’s father.

Elden would later have received the platinum album and a teddy bear from Geffen Records.

How did Spencer Elden end up on the Nevermind album cover?

The controversial image of Elden, which is now the subject of a major US damages lawsuit, was taken in May 1991 by photographer Kirk Weddle.

Elden’s father, Rick, was a friend of the underwater photographer tasked with creating the concept for the cover art for Nirvana’s label, Geffen Records.

“It’s such a great concept: a baby underwater, naked, helpless, can’t breathe, but still chases the dollar with a hook,” Weddle told The Guardian in 2019.

“I was lucky my friends just had a baby, Spencer, and they trusted me with him.

“The band was not on anyone’s radar at the time, so the shoot was really small – there was no art director, no director, or account director looking over your shoulder.”

Weddle also told Guardian’s Tim Jonze in 2019: “I’m still in touch with Spencer.

“I thought, ‘Dude, when this kid turns 16 he’s going to hate me!’ He doesn’t, but he’s in conflict over the image.

Weddle added: “He thinks everyone made money and he didn’t.

“I think he deserves something.

“But it’s always the record companies that make the money.”

Elden recreated the image at the age of 10 for Rolling Stone magazine with Kirk Weddle and then celebrated the album’s 25th anniversary in 2016 with another recreation taken by acclaimed American photographer John Chapple for New York Post.

Why is Elden suing Nirvana?

Elden filed a lawsuit for damages against former Nirvana members like Dave Grohl, Chad Channing, Krist Novoselic and the estate of late singer Kurt Cobain, executed by his partner Courtney Love, in the United States on Tuesday, August 24.

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Documents filed with California Central District Court see Elden’s attorneys allege that the band, photographer Kirk Weddle, Geffen Records, Warner Records, Universal Music Group and Nevermind cover designer Robert Fisher violated federal laws against child pornography with the album image.

Court documents indicate that Elden’s attorneys claim that “Spencer has suffered and will continue to suffer lifelong damage” as a result of the use of the image as a Nevermind cover.

“This lawsuit arises out of injuries sustained by Spencer Elden (” Spencer “) as a result of the commercial sexual exploitation of children by Kirk Weddle, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Chad Channing, David Grohl, Robert Fisher and Nirvana, LLC then that he was a minor nowadays, ”the lawsuit for damages reads.

“The accused knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in return for it.”

Elden’s lawsuit comes nearly a year after graphic designer Robert Fisher filed a lawsuit against the group, its former members and Kurt Cobain’s estate, claiming he was the person who created the iconic smiley face logo Nirvana yellow, rather than Cobain.

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About Elizabeth J. Swartz

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