Few album covers in the history of music are as remarkable as that of Nervermind (1991) of Nirvana. The traditional photo of a naked baby in a pool chasing a dollar bill hanging from a hook stamped the record that launched Kurt Cobain and company to stardom and will turn 30 in 2021.
The problem, however, is that not everyone is satisfied with the plot of this story. Now 30 years old, Spencer Elden — the baby in the photo — is suing the band for child pornography and also claims that his parents never signed any documents authorizing the use of the image on the CD cover.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
According to the document registered in the Federal Court of California on Tuesday (24) and obtained by CNN, Elden’s lawyers said the image could fit within the parameters of child pornography and noted that the boy suffered “irreparable lifelong damage” as a result of his involvement in the album.
As Kurt Cobain passed away in 1994, the list of people named as defendants includes the vocalist’s heirs, surviving band members, the photographer, and several record labels who participated in the process of creating the record. Currently, Elden is charging $150,000 in punitive damages for each of the defendants, in addition to court costs — totaling $2 million.
The indictment also points out that the dollar image included in the original photograph made it appear as if the baby were a “sex worker”. Spencer has recreated the image a few times throughout her adult life, but has also hinted during interviews that she was uncomfortable with the album’s popularity.
(Source: John Chapple)
In an interview with Time Magazine in the past, Elden said it was very strange to feel famous for not having done anything. “I just woke up one day already being part of this huge project”, he pointed out. At the time of the release of Nevermind, Spencer claims that his father would have received only $200 from photographer Kirk Weddle, who was a close friend of the family, to authorize the use of the photo on the album cover.
“We were having a pool party and no one understood anything that was going on,” he said. He also claims that his participation in the record earned him “extreme and permanent emotional distress” as well as “interference with his normal development and educational progress” and “medical and psychological treatment”.
Nirvana representatives and record companies involved in the process have not yet responded to the claims.