Nirvana’s Nevermind cover baby Spencer Elden is suing Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Kurt Cobain’s estate claiming that his “identity and legal name are forever tied to the commercial sexual exploitation he experienced as a minor which has been distributed and sold worldwide from the time he was a baby to the present day.”
The suit says that the defendants “knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so,” while also noting that “despite this knowledge, defendants failed to take reasonable steps to protect Spencer and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking.”
Spencer says that his parents never signed a release authorizing the use of the photos. He also alleges that the band promised to cover his privates with a sticker, which was not incorporated into the Nevermind art.
“To ensure the album cover would trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer, [photographer Kirk] Weddle activated Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasizing Spencer’s exposed genitals.”
The suit claims Nirvana “used child pornography depicting Spencer as an essential element of a record promotion scheme commonly utilized in the music industry to get attention, wherein album covers posed children in a sexually provocative manner to gain notoriety, drive sales, and garner media attention, and critical reviews.”
Elden wants $150,000 from each of the 17 defendants, including Grohl and Novoselic, or unspecified damages to be determined at trial, attorney fees, an injunction to prohibit all parties “from continuing to engage in the unlawful acts and practices described herein,” and a trial by jury.
“The permanent harm he has proximately suffered includes but is not limited to extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, interference with his normal development and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity, loss of past and future wages, past and future expenses for medical and psychological treatment, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses to be described and proven at trial of this matter.” Chad Channing is a defendant despite being gone from Nirvana by 1991.