Baby From The ‘Nevermind’ Album Cover Is Suing Nirvana — How Kurt Cobain Already Defended Child Pornography Allegations

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nirvana nevermind album cover baby swimming

The world-famous album cover for one of the most popular albums of the 90s — 'Nevermind' by Nirvana — features a four-month-old baby naked in a pool of water.

Since its conception, the album cover was met with a lot of controversy — from the label and the public — and now from the baby on the album cover himself.

This follows rumors that Nirvana's 'Nevermind' album cover had generated controversy on TikTok. 

It appears a new generation looks less favorably on the controversial album cover and the star of the cover agrees. 

Why is the baby from the 'Nevermind' album cover suing Nirvana?

Spencer Elden, who is now 30-years-old, is suing Nirvana for child exploitation and child pornography and claims the band knowlingly distributed and profited from his naked images. 

Elden asking for $150,000 in damages from each of the defendants, which include members of the band, Kurt Cobain's estate, photographer Kirk Weddle, Universal Music, Geffen Records, Warner Records and MCA Music. 

Elden's parents reportedly never signed a release to authorize the use of the image and Elden claims he never received compensation. 

Why were people trying to cancel Nirvana's 'Nevermind' album cover?

There are multiple reasons why cancel culture and Elden are now targeting Nirvana’s album cover.

As per Elden's lawsuit, the naked baby could be considered "child pornography" and should not be allowed to be on the cover of an album for that purpose.

It is for this reason that Facebook previously removed the cover from its platform for violating the terms of use.

In 2011, fans of the band who were sharing the image for the album's 20th anniversary received a warning message from Facebook.

“Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence or other violations of the Terms of Use,” it reads. But outrage or administrative errors led the platform to allow the image back on the site days later. 

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What did Kurt Cobain say about child pornography concerns for the ‘Nevermind’ cover?

But the accusation of child pornography would likely be contested by lead singer Kurt Cobain if he were alive today.

Cobain reportedly fought with his label to keep the uncensored version of the photo on the cover at the time of 'Nevermind's' release. 

And when asked to removed it, he allegedly said he would only give in on the condition that a sticker that read: “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet paedophile” would appear on the cover.  

Though, Cobain's defence occured at a time before Elden could speak for himself so perhaps Elden is the only voice we should be listening to on the subject today. 

Originally, Cobain got the idea after watching a program on water births, but the label didn’t like the ‘water birth cover’ idea, so instead Cobain went for the swimming baby option.

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Stock photos for swimming babies went for $7500, so they decided to make their own, and that’s how the ‘Nevermind’ album cover came to be.

Instead of paying over $7000, they instead paid the parents $200 to take the photo of their child.

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Spencer Elden has previously addressed the 'Nevermind' album cover. 

Elden has openly criticized the use of his naked baby photo on Nirvana's album which may explain why some have been spurred to cancel the 'Nevermind' cover.

“Looking back, it feels kind of stupid doing interviews about it, because I had nothing to do with it, but a lot to do with it all at the same time,” Elden told said in 2016. “It’s a really weird feeling being a part of someone else’s momentum — being caught up in this wake of stuff.”

The group never reached out to him, even though he tried to reach out to them, and it upset him for a while, but as a way of realizing his role and coming to terms with it, he got the name of the album tattoed across his chest. That said, he still didn't seem totally satisfied with the lack of acknowledgment or compensation from the band.

“Nirvana’s cool, I guess—it’s just weird being a part of it,” he said.

Now, judging by his lawsuit against Nirvana, Elden wants the band to be held accountable or, at the very least, receive compensation for his images. 

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice and relationships.