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Nirvana by Michael Lavine
New York City, April 25, 1990© Michael Lavine

Dave Grohl weighs in on Nirvana’s naked baby album cover lawsuit

‘Listen, he’s got a Nevermind tattoo and I don’t’

Earlier this year, Spencer Elden – AKA the naked baby who appears on Nirvana’s Nevermind cover – announced that he is suing the rock band for child pornography and sexual exploitation. In August, the now 30-year-old filed the lawsuit in a Los Angeles court against the surviving band members and Kurt Cobain’s estate.

Now, in a new interview with Vulture, Nirvana’s drummer Dave Grohl has opened up about the ongoing suit. “I don’t know that I can speak on it because I haven’t spent too much time thinking about it,” said Grohl. “I feel the same way most people do in that I have to disagree. That’s all I’ll say.”

Elden – who recreated the Nevermind image for a 25th anniversary celebration in the New York Post and for Rolling Stone when he was ten years-old – also was discovered to have the word ‘Nevermind’ tattooed across his chest, leading some to question the intentions of his lawsuit. When asked about the tattoo, Grohl simply noted: “Listen, he’s got a ‘Nevermind’ tattoo. I don’t.”

Previously, the drummer told the Sunday Times that he anticipated legal trouble. “At some point, unfortunately, it just becomes par for the course,” he said. 

However, he also vaguely stated that the album cover may get a design rework. “I have many ideas of how we should alter that cover,” he said. “But, we’ll see what happens.”

Elden, who was four months old when the 1991 cover was made, claims that he suffered “lifelong damages”, including “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations”, plus loss of education, wages, and “enjoyment of life”. “Recently I’ve been thinking, ‘What if I wasn’t okay with my freaking penis being shown to everybody?’ I didn’t really have a choice,” he said in 2016.

Kirk Wedell, who shot the album cover, also believes that Elden deserves reimbursement for the image. “He feels that everybody made money off it and he didn’t,” he said. “I think he deserves something. But it’s always the record labels that make the money.”

Several legal experts, however, are expecting the case to be dismissed, as Elden’s recreations of the cover harm his arguments.