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07 Nirvana: the baby’s lawsuit from “Nevermind” album dismissed by court

Nirvana: the baby’s lawsuit from “Nevermind” album dismissed by court


One of the most legendary pictures in the history of rock music has once more caused a ruckus. Spencer Elden, the baby photographed for the cover of Nirvana’s album Nevermind in 1991, filed a complaint against the emblematic American grunge rock band last summer. The lawsuit was dismissed on Tuesday, January 4th.

Pochette de l'album "Nevermind" de Nirvana Pochette de l'album "Nevermind" de Nirvana
Pochette de l'album "Nevermind" de Nirvana

It has been more than thirty years since the release of Nirvana’s album Nevermind. Thirty years since the American photographer Kirk Weedle captured Spencer Elden, who was 4 months old then, swimming in a pool towards a dollar bill. At the time, his parents Renata and Rick Elden were paid $200 to let the photographer immortalize their baby. Since then, lots of things happened: the album cover has become one of the most memorable pictures of all times, while the group parted in 1994 after the tragic death of his leader Kurt Cobain. As for Spencer Elder, he played on the iconic dimension of his image throughout the years: he re- enacted the photo for the album’s 10th, 17th, 20th and 25th anniversaries several times and even had “Nevermind” tattooed in bold letters on his torso. However, the most famous baby in the world of rock music now requests a compensation.

On August 24th last year, the thirty-year- old man filed a lawsuit against more than ten people, including the two surviving group members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love and estate executors, photographer Kirk Weedle, the label’s artistic director Robert Fisher, and other companies involved in the album distribution since its release. In addition to his complaint, Spencer Elden is seeking $150,000 from each defendant as well as an undisclosed amount for damages. Allegedly suffering from the worldwide exposure of his nakedness, Spencer Elden could not stand seeing himself on this cover anymore and would feel like he was being perceived as a “sex worker”. The band’s lawyers answered back that the man “has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self- anointed ‘Nirvana Baby’”. On Tuesday, January 4th, the lawsuit was eventually dismissed by a judge with a right to file a second amended complaint, as the statutory limitation had expired more than ten years ago. Spencer Elden’s lawyers still have ten days to file a new motion.