Nirvana Sued By The Baby From Cover of 'Nevermind'
Move over, Teen Spirit -- it seems there's another smell taking over the Nirvana universe, the scent of sweet, sweet justice. Earlier this week, Spencer Elden – a.k.a the baby on the cover of the grunge band's iconic 1991 album, Nevermind – filed a lawsuit against Nirvana, alleging his appearance on the record's artwork constitutes sexual exploitation and child pornography and that his parents never signed a release for the group to use the photo.
Seeking $150,000 in damages and coverage of legal fees from band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, who is described as an executor of the singer's estate, photographer Kirk Weddle, who snapped the infamous photo, and personnel from some record labels, the suit alleges the aforementioned group “knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography.” Also claiming the band promised to cover his genitals with a sticker, an agreement that was evidently not upheld, Elden says he "has suffered and will continue to suffer lifelong damages" as a result of appearing on the album, including "extreme and permanent emotional distress" and “interference with his normal development and educational progress,” prompting "medical and psychological treatment".
"The images exposed Spencer's intimate body part and lasciviously displayed Spencer's genitals from the time he was an infant to the present day," reads Elden's suit, filed Tuesday in a California federal court.
However, it seems that the move, much unlike the appearance of his baby self reaching for a later-superimposed dollar bill on the cover of the album – a depiction the now 30-year-old's attorney says makes him seem “like a sex worker" – is far from a money grab. Although he was four months old when the now-infamous photo was taken, Elden says that his “true identity and legal name are forever tied to the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor which has been distributed and sold worldwide from the time he was a baby to the present day."
As BBC News noted, Elden has recreated the famous image over the years -- notably wearing a swimsuit – doing so to respectively commemorate Nevermind's 10, 20, and 25 year anniversaries, yet as he's gotten older, it seems he's changed his tune on his claim to fame, saying that as he's gotten older, he's felt “a little upset” about his involvement.
"I just woke up already being a part of this huge project," he recalled to Time magazine in 2016. “It's pretty difficult - you feel like you're famous for nothing.”
The snap's finances, too also proved to be a sore subject for him. "It's hard not to get upset when you hear how much money was involved," he explained. "[When] I go to a baseball game and think about it: 'Man, everybody at this baseball game has probably seen my little baby penis,' I feel like I got part of my human rights revoked."