Nevermind baby’s lawsuit against Nirvana dismissed by judge

(Image credit: DGC)

A judge in California has missed the lawsuit brought against Nirvana by Spencer Elden, who was photographed as a baby for the cover of the band’s Nevermind album.

Elden had cited Nirvana, Kurt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, photographer Kirk Weddle, designer Robert Fisher and various record labels in his action. Amongst the allegations made in the case’s court documents were that the band "knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer, and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so," and that "the Defendants failed to take reasonable steps to protect Spencer and prevent his widespread sexual exploitation and image trafficking."

The suit also alleged that, "Defendants 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."

The surviving members of Nirvana, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, had dismissed Elden’s case as "not serious", and in a ruling made on January 3, Judge Fernando M. Olguin rejected the lawsuit "with leave to amend."

Elden’s legal team have until January 13 to file an appeal against the ruling: should that deadline be missed, there will be no further chance to refile the complaint.

The original lawsuit was filed in August 2021, with Elden seeking $150,000 in damages, for “lifelong damages” from the album cover artwork. The band’s representatives pointed out that Elden had "spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby’."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.