How Old Is the Nirvana Baby and Where Is He in 2021?

It has been three decades since the legendary grunge band Nirvana released their chart-topping album Nevermind. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. And its hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” launched the Seattle-based band into superstardom.

The iconic album cover for Nevermind featured a naked baby swimming underwater as he chased a dollar bill dangling by a fish hook. That baby is now an adult. And he has a lot to say about his experience with the fame he received from the cover.

‘Nevermind’ was controversial from the start

Now-deceased frontman Kurt Cobain was the mastermind of the Nevermind album cover. He reportedly was inspired by a documentary he watched about underwater births. The photo of the baby was supposed to represent a symbol of capitalism as the infant chases the floating dollar.

Variety reported that the author of the biography Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana claimed the record label wanted to use a different image. Cobain reportedly insisted on the current version. He said, “the only alteration he would consider making was covering the infant’s penis with a sticker that would read: ‘If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.'”

Geffen Records agreed to the photo. The album cover became an integral part of pop culture history. Nevermind was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2018.

Who is the baby from the “Nevermind” cover?

'In Bloom: The Nirvana Exhibition', marking the 20th Anniversary of the release of Nirvana's 'Nevermind' album on September 13, 2011, in London, England.
‘In Bloom: The Nirvana Exhibition’, marking the 20th Anniversary of the release of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album on September 13, 2011, in London, England. | Samir Hussein/Getty Images

At only four months old, Spencer Elden became famous. His parents allowed the use of his image for the album cover. They were given $200 by photographer Kirk Weddle, who was a friend of the family.

Elden’s chest bears a tattoo of the Nevermind emblem. He also recreated the photo as an adult. Wearing swim trunks, he has posed underwater several times for the band’s commemorative anniversaries.

In 2016, while celebrating Nirvana’s 25th anniversary, the cover star took a positive stance. He told the New York Post, “It’s strange that I did this for five minutes when I was 4 months old, and it became this really iconic image.” Elden explained, “It’s cool but weird to be part of something so important that I don’t even remember.”

According to Artnet, Elden’s enthusiasm for being known as the Nirvana baby changed when he asked the band to participate in his art show. They failed to respond to his offer. An aspiring artist himself, who does not receive royalties from the photo, he wanted to be treated with more respect.

The ‘Nirvana’ baby files a lawsuit

As Forbes recently reported, “The Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ baby is still chasing that dollar.” Elden claims, “the band made a promise to cover his genitals with a sticker.” However, “the sticker was never incorporated on the album cover.”

Now 30 years old, Elden filed a lawsuit claiming his nude image on the iconic album cover constituted child pornography. His lawyer says, “the inclusion of currency in the shot makes the baby appear ‘like a sex worker.'” The lawsuit claims this was “done intentionally to increase album sales.”

Cobain’s estate, surviving band members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, former drummer Chad Channing, art director Robert Fisher, and Widdle are all named in the lawsuit asking for $150,000 from each defendant.

Apparently, the former album cover baby feels exploited by the band, he told TMZ, “I’m just asking the band to do what they should have done 30 years ago and redact my genitals from the image out of respect for my privacy,” Elden said.

There has not yet been an official response to the claims from the former band members or their associates.

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