1991 Album Faces the Money

Pool of surprises

Among Nirvana’s studio records, perhaps one of the most iconic covers is printed on the “Nevermind” album. Although this was not their first album, it served as their breakthrough and reason for reaching the top of the charts in the early 1990’s. While “Nevermind” helped define Nirvana’s future in the music industry, it also eventually led to the band’s recent involvement in a federal lawsuit, in which the baby on the cover, who is now 30 years old, is suing for exploitation. He is holding several parties accountable for advertising and profiting from an album that illustrates an indecent photograph of a 4-month-old baby in a pool.

Although he harbors current resentment for the photograph, Spencer Elden has reprised his role, in swim trunks, for the album’s 10th, 17th, 20th, and 25th anniversaries. According to the former Nirvana drummer, Dave Grohl, who has only recently spoken of his connection to the lawsuit, addressed the fact that Elden has a “Nevermind” tattoo. Despite the clear indications that support Elden’s former willingness to relish in his previous underwater gig, Dave Grohl has expressed that he is willing to contribute ideas that may help alter the iconic image for future releases. In addition to monetary compensation, Elden is seeking a change in the artwork.

While some may consider this lawsuit to be frivolous, Elden contends that he has suffered permanent damage and emotional distress due to his relationship with the album and the subsequent loss of potential income. In terms of compensation, Elden is hoping to receive $150,000 from each of the 15 individuals he has named as defendants, including the photographer who snapped the picture, the estate of Kurt Cobain, former band mates, and Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love. Geffen Records is also named in the lawsuit. The key argument in Elden’s case is the extent to which his privacy was violated. He was obviously not afforded the chance to offer consent to this image; and his parents insist that they were unaware of how the image would be used.