30 years later, the baby on Nirvana's Nevermind cover is suing for damages


Nirvana's 1991 album Nevermind is widely credited with bringing alternative and grunge rock into the mainstream, but now it's in the news for another reason. Spencer Elden, the adult who was the baby depicted swimming naked on the album's cover, has filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the photo violated various federal child pornography laws.

Child pr0n? The Nevermind album cover? I've seen it thousands of times and never thought of it as porn. It's no different than seeing a picture of a dolphin in the water.

[…] The suit is seeking "the actual damages [Spencer] has [sustained], or liquidated damages in the amount of $150,000, and the cost of the action."

Only $150K? That's … minuscule.

Perhaps more relevant for this lawsuit, Elden has also expressed a longstanding frustration with being excluded from the album's success. The Time interview mentions that he had pursued but didn't follow through with earlier legal action against Geffen Records, saying that "it's hard not to get upset when you hear how much money was involved."

I guarantee the album cover had little to do with the success. People didn't say "Oh, snap! Baby penis! I want to listen to this band from Seattle!" The success of the album came from the artists who put it together and the marketers who got it on the radios across much of North America and Europe …