FILE PHOTO: Joan Jett (C) performs with Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic (R) of Nirvana after the band was inducted during the 29th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York April 11, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
January 13, 2022
By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) – The man depicted as a naked baby on Nirvana’s 1991 album “Nevermind” has revived his lawsuit accusing the band of sexually exploiting him, after a U.S. judge dismissed an earlier version of the case.
Spencer Elden, the plaintiff, maintained in an amended complaint filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles that the “lascivious nature of his image” amounted to “child pornography” that helped the band reap tens of millions of dollars at his expense.
Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic; Courtney Love, the widow of Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain; several record labels, and photographer Kirk Weddle are among the 10 defendants. Elden is seeking at least $150,000 from each.
Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond on Thursday to requests for comment.
The “Nevermind” cover art depicted Elden, then four months old, swimming naked toward a dollar bill pierced with a fish hook, an image Elden has said caused him “lifelong damages.”
Elden filed his amended complaint nine days after U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin dismissed an earlier version because Elden had not responded to the defendants’ dismissal motion.
The latest complaint includes a declaration from art director Robert Fisher, describing a stock photo he used for a mockup for the “Nevermind” cover that depicted a different baby and did not show his penis.
Elden said the band decided to create its own photo to save money, with Cobain sardonically suggesting that the cover include a warning sticker saying: “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile.”
Fisher was dismissed as a defendant last month.
Elden’s lawsuit no longer accuses Nirvana of violating a 2003 federal law against child sex trafficking, after the defendants said that law could not be applied retroactively.
“Nevermind” features Nirvana’s signature song “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and its worldwide sales exceed 30 million. Grohl now leads the band Foo Fighters. Cobain died in 1994.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)