Nirvana are being used by Spencer Elden, the man who appeared as a baby on the cover of their 1991 album 'Nevermind'.
The cover was instantly iconic, featuring a then-infant Spencer Elden in a swimming pool, reaching towards a cash note on a fishing line.
It seems that being part of this classic album has been a tough load to hold for the adult Elden, who is launching a lawsuit against Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, and the estate of Kurt Cobain.
As TMZ report, Spencer Elden is suing the above parties, alongside ‘Nevermind’ album artwork photographer Kirk Weddle and designer Robert Fisher, record label Geffen, and Chad Channing - Nirvana's drummer from 1988 to 1990.
The lawsuit was filed on August 24th, and alleges that the defendants have “violated” federal child pornography statutes, with Elden suffering “injuries” and “lifelong damages” as a result of the defendants’ “commercial child sexual exploitation of him from while he was a minor to the present day”.
In addition to this, the lawsuit claims that “Cobain agreed to redact Spencer’s image” with a sticker bearing the text “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile” - a claim echoed in the 1993 book Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana.
Ultimately, however, the album was released without a sticker. As a result, the lawsuit alleges that the band “failed to take reasonable steps to protect Spencer and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking”.
In documents uploaded by Pitchfork, the lawsuit claims that “neither Spencer nor his legal guardians ever signed a release authorizing the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness, and certainly not of commercial child pornography depicting him.” Spencer Elden is seeking actual damages, or liquidated damages amounting to $150,000 per defendant, attorney’s fees and a trial by jury. The remaining members of Nirvana have not commented on the case.
Speaking to TIME in 2016 for the 25th anniversary of the album, Spencer Elden discussed the lingering impact 'Nevermind' has had on his life. “It’s hard not to get upset when you hear how much money was involved. [When] I go to a baseball game and think about it: ‘Man, everybody at this baseball game has probably seen my little baby penis,’ I feel like I got part of my human rights revoked.”
- - -