The Nevermind album cover baby is suing Seattle grunge icons, Nirvana, over claims of child pornography exploitation. Get the full story here.
Spencer Elden, now 30 years old, is perhaps most recognisable as the nude baby suspended underwater on the cover of Nirvana’s second studio album, Nevermind. At just 4 months old, he became an iconic image in the world of rock music. Now, three decades on, Elden is suing the band saying he was sexually exploited.
Elden is seeking at least $150,000 from each of the 17 defendants as compensation. This includes the remaining living band members, record executives, as well as Courtney Love as the manager of Kurt Cobain’s estate. It is claimed that Elden’s parents did not receive payment for the photograph, nor give their permission for its use. It was previously believed that Elden’s father was offered $200 for the photograph.
The designer of the cover, Robert Fisher, said that the idea behind the image came from Cobain’s interest in water birthing. It was agreed that the vision would be a bit too graphic, so opted for a swimming baby instead.
However, the court case states that the image amounts to child pornography, and presents Elden as “a sex worker – grabbing for a dollar bill”. Elden states he has suffered lifelong damages as a result of the photograph, including loss of education, wages, and “enjoyment of life”.
In 2016, Spencer Elden recreated the iconic album cover to celebrate the record’s 25th anniversary with the New York Post newspaper. Despite this, Elden has reflected on the impact to him caused by the album cover, saying that same year: “Recently I’ve been thinking, ‘What if I wasn’t OK with my freaking penis being shown to everybody?’ I didn’t really have a choice.” He also recreated the image for the Rolling Stone at the age of 10, and has a large Nevermind chest tattoo.