eleased in September 1991, Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album became one of the most iconic and influential albums of all time. The cover of the album is almost as famous as the music it contains, featuring a naked baby floating underwater, reaching for a dollar bill on a fishhook. The image has become synonymous with the album and with Nirvana as a band. But who is the baby on the cover of “Nevermind,” and how did he end up on one of the most recognizable album covers of all time?
The now grown baby is Spencer Elden
The baby on the cover of “Nevermind” is Spencer Elden. Spencer was born on February 7, 1991, and he was just four months old when his parents, Rick and Lori Elden, were approached by a friend of photographer Kirk Weddle. Weddle was a photographer who had worked with Nirvana before, and he was looking for a baby to be on the cover of the band’s new album.
At the time, Nirvana was a relatively unknown band, and Rick and Lori Elden had no idea who they were or what their music sounded like. They were hesitant at first but eventually agreed to let Weddle take some photos of their son. Weddle took several shots of Spencer in a pool, and one of those shots ended up being the cover of “Nevermind.”
The image on the cover of “Nevermind” has become one of the most iconic and recognizable images in rock music history. It’s hard to imagine the album without it. But at the time, the image was somewhat controversial. Many people were taken aback by the sight of a naked baby on an album cover, and some stores even refused to stock the album because of the cover.
Despite the controversy, “Nevermind” went on to become a massive success, selling over 30 million copies worldwide. The album helped to popularize alternative rock and grunge music and paved the way for bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains.
Spencer Elden has since spoken about his experience being on the cover of “Nevermind.” In interviews, he has said that he doesn’t remember the photoshoot itself, but he has become very aware of the impact the image has had over the years. He has also spoken about the strange feeling of being famous for something he doesn’t even remember.
Over the years, Elden has recreated the “Nevermind” cover several times, sometimes fully clothed and sometimes naked. He has even gotten a tattoo of the “Nevermind” album cover on his chest. In a 2016 interview with Time Magazine, Elden said, “It’s cool but weird to be part of something so important that I don’t even remember.”
He was only paid $200 for the photo on the album
Despite his connection to “Nevermind,” Elden has not made much money from the album’s success. According to a 2015 article in The Guardian, Elden was paid just $200 for his appearance on the cover of “Nevermind.” He has occasionally received small amounts of money for appearances at Nirvana-related events, but for the most part, he has not been compensated for his role in creating one of the most iconic images in rock music history.
The “Nevermind” album cover has become so iconic that it has been parodied and referenced in countless movies, TV shows, and other forms of media. The image has become a symbol of the early ’90s and of the grunge music scene that Nirvana helped to create.
Lawsuit for “Child Pornography”
In August 2021, Spencer Elden filed a lawsuit against Nirvana’s surviving members, including Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, alleging that the album cover featuring him as a baby amounted to “commercial child pornography.” The lawsuit was filed in the Central District Court of California and sought $150,000 in damages from each of the defendants.
According to Elden’s complaint, the photograph on the “Nevermind” album cover “exposes Spencer’s intimate body part to the world for millions of people to see” and was “graphically sexual in nature.” Elden’s lawsuit also claimed that the defendants used the image “to promote themselves and their music at his expense.”
The lawsuit attracted significant media attention, and it sparked a debate about the line between art and exploitation. Some commentators argued that the “Nevermind” album cover was an artistic statement that had been widely celebrated for decades and that Elden’s lawsuit represented an attempt to cash in on his association with a cultural icon.
Others argued that Elden’s claims were legitimate and that he had been exploited as a child for the financial gain of others. In an interview with the BBC, Elden said, “It’s hard for me not to get upset when I think about how my parents were paid only $200 for the photo session and how I’ve had to live with the stigma of being the Nirvana baby for my entire life.”
The lawsuit has not yet been resolved, and it remains to be seen whether Elden will receive any compensation from Nirvana’s surviving members. However, the controversy has sparked a renewed discussion about the ethics of using children in art and media, and it has raised important questions about the rights of child actors and models.
In conclusion, Spencer Elden’s lawsuit against Nirvana’s surviving members alleging that the image on the “Nevermind” album cover was “commercial child pornography” has attracted significant media attention and sparked a debate about the line between art and exploitation. While the lawsuit has not yet been resolved, it has raised important questions about the rights of child actors and models, and it has reminded us that even iconic cultural artifacts can be the subject of controversy and dispute.