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Amended Nevermind lawsuit cites Kurt Cobain’s journals as evidence

By | Published on Wednesday 24 November 2021

Nirvana - Nevermind (Censored)

Spencer Elden, the man who appeared on the cover of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album as a baby, has submitted an updated lawsuit against the band and their label, attempting to further his claim that the image of him swimming naked on that record’s artwork amounts to “commercial child pornography”.

Submitted earlier this week, the amended lawsuit more sharply focusses on Kurt Cobain and photographer Kirk Weddle, further pushing the claim that both intended the image of the four month old baby to be sexual.

At the centre of that is the allegation that Weddle aimed to “trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer” by activating “Spencer’s ‘gag reflex’ before throwing him underwater in poses highlighting and emphasising Spencer’s exposed genitals”.

“Weddle soon after produced photographs of Spencer dressed up and depicted as [Playboy founder] Hugh Hefner”, the new lawsuit adds, without further comment.

The filing also quotes from the 2002 book of excerpts from Cobain’s journals, highlighting various controversial and provocative statements he made relating to sex and children. Although these undated statements are not given their surrounding context.

It also claims that the book sees “Cobain sketch the album cover in a sexual manner, with semen all over it”. This seemingly relates to a page planning out a video for the song ‘Come As You Are’, which suggests super-imposing images of “babies swimming”, sperm cells, jelly fish and sea monkeys over footage of the band. It is not clear if the accompanying drawing was made prior to the creation of the ‘Nevermind’ cover, but it does feature swimming babies and dollar bills on fish hooks.

Following this, the lawsuit says that “Cobain was instrumental in selecting Spencer’s image for the album cover” and was keen to make it “provocative”. It also claims that there were behind-the-scenes discussions about the “image’s appeal to paedophiles” and that there was talk of censoring the artwork with a sticker at the time.

There are a number of omissions from the updated lawsuit too. No longer named as defendants are former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing, Warner Music, and managers of Cobain’s estate, Heather Parry and Guy Oseary. It also removes a line stating that Elden “never received any compensation” for appearing in the photograph.

In hisĀ original lawsuit filed in August, Elden claimed that he has suffered “extreme and permanent emotional distress” as a result of appearing on the ‘Nevermind’ cover three decades ago. He is seeking a minimum of $150,000 from each defendant.

A 30th anniversary edition of the album was released earlier this month, featuring the original artwork.