Will the Cover Image for Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ Be Changed?
Spencer Elden, the man who was photographed nude as a baby for Nirvana's iconic Nevermind album cover, recently filed a lawsuit against the band and Kurt Cobain's estate, claiming he was exploited for the picture. Now, in addition to financial compensation, Elden also wants the band to alter any future versions of the album cover.
Elden is seeking $150,000 from each of the 15 people and companies named in the suit, which alleges the members of Nirvana "knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so." Maggie Mabie, one of Elden’s lawyers, said her client is also "asking for Nirvana to do what Nirvana should have done 30 years ago and redact the images of his genitalia from the album cover," The New York Times reports.
The request is timely, as Nevermind celebrates its 30th anniversary on Sept. 24. The album was an astronomical commercial and critical success, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide and spearheading the grunge revolution. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic recently hinted at a 30th-anniversary reissue, though he did not share details.
Elden's suit further alleges that Cobain "agreed to redact Spencer’s image by releasing the album with a sticker strategically placed over Spencer's genitals with the text: 'If you're offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.'" The sticker, however, was "never incorporated." Elden hopes the band will make good on this alleged agreement for any future releases. Mabie told the Associated Press, "If there is a 30th anniversary rerelease, [Elden] wants for the entire world not to see his genitals."
While Elden has recreated the Nevermind cover several times throughout his life — with clothes on — and tattooed the image on his chest, he appears to have changed his mind about the cover in recent years. "Recently I've been thinking, 'What if I wasn't okay with my freaking penis being shown to everybody?'" Elden told GQ Australia in 2016. "I didn’t really have a choice."