Why The “Nevermind” Cover Baby is Suing Nirvana


Nirvana was a huge band in the 1990s. For those who are unfamiliar, grunge was an alt rock genre that came into existence in the state of Washington in the mid 1980s. It showed influence from a number of predecessors such as punk and metal. However, much of its content was darker and more disillusioned than the glam metal that was mainstream for much of the decade. It took time for grunge to be popularized, with Nirvana being one of the most notable names in that regard. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that Nirvana came into existence in the late 1980s. After all, if it had come into existence later than that, it wouldn’t have pioneered what it pioneered. Regardless, Nirvana was around for a while before it found mainstream success. In fact, the band released its debut album Bleach in 1989, which tends to be overshadowed because the band didn’t break into the mainstream until it released its second album Nevermind in 1991.

It is no exaggeration to say that Nevermind was successful beyond anyone’s expectations. Nirvana’s record label was hoping to sell a grand total of 250,000 albums. Instead, it was selling 400,000 copies of the album in a single week by the time that Christmas of 1991 came around. As such, Nevermind was so popular that it has sometimes been credited with bringing down hair metal before replacing it with alt rock. Of course, this means that the album cover for Nevermind became very well-known as well. In short, it features a baby swimming underwater while a U.S. dollar is suspended on a fishing hook beyond his reach. As the story goes, Kurt Cobain was the one who came up with the idea while watching a TV show about water births. He mentioned the idea to the art director Robert Fisher, who proceeded to find stock footage of water births.

Something that proved to be pointless because it was too graphic for their purposes. As such, Fisher went looking for an alternative. A stock photo of a swimming baby was no good because the stock house wanted $7,500 a year for its use. So instead, Fisher sent a photographer named Kirk Weddle to a swimming pool for babies to take some pictures. In total, Weddle took dozens of pictures, with the result that the band settled for the picture of a four-month-old baby named Spencer Elden, who was the son of a friend of Weddle’s. There was concern that the original image would cause offense because it showed Elden’s genitalia, but the record label relented when Cobain resisted the idea of using a somewhat modified image.

Who Is Spencer Elden?

Spencer Elden was the baby used for the Nevermind album cover. Over the course of his life, he has shown mixed thoughts about the use of his baby picture for said purpose. For example, some of Elden’s actions have seemed celebratory in nature. This can be seen in how he recreated the picture for not one, not two, not three, but four of the album’s anniversaries, though he was wearing clothes in every single one of the recreations. However, Elden has also expressed more complicated sentiments at various points. One example would be an interview with the New York Post, in which he called the whole thing “cool but weird.” Another example would be an interview with GQ Australia, in which he expressed annoyance at the thought that he didn’t have any choice about being shown in that way because the whole thing happened when he was still a baby. Besides this, it is worth mentioning that Elden has stated that being on the Nevermind album cover has opened doors for him that would have otherwise remained closed, which makes sense because it is such an iconic image of the 1990s.

Why Is Spencer Elden Suing Nirvana?

Very recently, Elden made the decision to sue the estate of Kurt Cobain, the surviving members of Nirvana, and other parties involved in the making of the Nevermind album cover. He claimed that his likeness was used without the consent of either him or his guardians. Furthermore, he claimed that the image was pornographic in nature, with the result that it has inflicted “lifelong damages” upon him. Elden is seeking $150,000 from each of the individuals as well as companies that he is suing. On top of this, he is seeking for his genitalia to be redacted from the album cover.

In any case, it isn’t quite clear why Elden is suing Nirvana and the rest. The public has had very limited looks at his thinking, which isn’t exactly the best basis on which to make guesses about his mindset on such a complicated topic. Certainly, Elden has shown a mix of responses over the course of his life. Moreover, one of his lawyers has stated that he has gone to therapy for years to work through how the use of his likeness has impacted his life. Having said that, there have been plenty of people who haven’t been hesitant to call the whole thing a cash grab. Some of these people are irritated by what they perceive as an attack on a beloved band. Others are irritated by the claims that have been made because they do not consider the image to be what Elden’s lawyers have claimed it to be. Regardless, there is no real way for the public to predict what the ultimate outcome of the case will be. At this point in time, there isn’t enough information available to interested individuals to make a lot of good, well-grounded guesses. As such, they might want to continue paying attention in the times to come to see what else will come out about the whole thing. Nirvana’s fame has long since faded. However, it is still well-known enough that any further news is sure to spread like wildfire as soon as it comes out.

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