Nirvana: lawsuit refiled as Spencer Elden pursues Nevermind baby album cover case

Spencer Elden alleges that the image of himself as a baby on Nirvana’s album amounts to ‘child pornography’

The man who featured as a naked baby on the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 Nevermind album has refiled his lawsuit against the rock band - after is was dismissed by a US judge earlier this month.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Spencer Elden said members of the band had “leveraged the lascivious nature of his image” to promote their famous album.

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At a glance: 5 key points

The Nineties album saw the grunge band shoot to success (image: Shutterstock)
  • Mr Elden was four months old when he was pictured in a pool at a swimming centre in Pasadena, California.
  • Now 30, he alleges that the picture, used by the group on their world famous album, constitutes child pornography as it shows his genitalia.
  • The lawsuit previously filed by Mr Elden’s lawyers was dismissed by a US judge earlier this month after they missed an important deadline - and Mr Elden was given until 13 January to pursue the case and file a second amended complaint.
  • Documents obtained by the PA news agency, filed on 11 January, claimed Mr Elden would “continue to suffer damages as long as the violations described above persist”.
  • In the original claim, filed in August 2021, lawyers alleged Nirvana “failed to take reasonable steps to protect Spencer and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking”. These allegations have now been dropped.

What’s been said

“During the ten years preceding the filing of this action, each defendant intentionally commercially marketed the child pornography depicting Spencer and leveraged the lascivious nature of his image to promote the Nevermind album, the band, and Nirvana’s music, while earning, at a minimum, tens of millions of dollars in the aggregate,” the lawsuit said.

In the original claim, filed in August 2021, lawyers alleged Nirvana “failed to take reasonable steps to protect Spencer and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking”.

The lawsuit also said Cobain, who took his own life in 1994 aged 27, was “instrumental” in choosing the album cover.

It is claimed Cobain agreed to strategically place a sticker over the baby’s private parts - though the cover was ultimately released without any censorship.

Background

On the original album cover the baby was shown naked underwater while appearing to be following a dollar bill being pulled along on a fish hook.

The image has become one of the most famous album covers of all time.

Nevermind, powered by singles including Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are and Lithium, was a massive critical and commercial success, propelling the grunge band to global stardom.

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