Universal Music Releases Nirvana ‘Nevermind’ 30th Anniversary Album Editions — With the Original Cover

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Nirvana co-founder Kurt Cobain (left) and Dave Grohl (center) during a 1991 radio interview with Kurt St. Thomas. Photo Credit: Julie Kramer

Evidently unfazed by the shocking child-pornography lawsuit filed by Spencer Elden, the individual who appeared on the cover of Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991) as a baby, Geffen and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) have officially released 30th anniversary editions of the album with the (unaltered) iconic photo.

Universal Music Enterprises and Geffen indicated in late September (on the date that Nevermind became available to fans, albeit back in 1991) that they intended to commemorate the three-decade-old album with a series of special releases – all of which would feature the photo of Elden. But the latter individual’s lawsuit was roughly a month old at the time, and it seemed possible that Universal could change course and select a different cover image on the 30th anniversary editions of Nevermind or promptly settle the suit.

Now – just recently after it came to light that mediation had failed to resolve the dispute and Elden is preparing to file an updated complaint – Universal Music has started shipping Nevermind 30th anniversary collections (besides all manner of apparel) with the original cover intact.

The Big Three record label doubled down on its months-old release plans today, making clear in a formal announcement email that fans can currently download the reissued album – untouched cover and all – with CD versions as well as a 1LP version shipping out sometime in November. However, the most expensive Nevermind anniversary variation, including “8 180-gram LPs” and more, won’t be mailed until late May of 2022, according to Universal Music.

As initially mentioned, that the Nevermind anniversary editions have rolled out sans delays or cover-image edits appears to suggest that UMG is far from worried about Elden’s firmly worded action, in which the 30-year-old is demanding “all profits and unjust enrichment” from the album. Nevermind has already sold north of 10 million copies in the U.S. and 30 million copies worldwide, and continued fan interest is likely to render the many anniversary releases commercially successful.

Regarding the courtroom confrontation’s timetable, Spencer Elden is now poised to submit an amended complaint on or before Monday, November 22nd. And Universal Music, Geffen, the surviving members of Nirvana, and the other defendants, for their part, are set to respond to the updated action by Friday, January 21st – 70 days from today.

Worth noting in conclusion is that the Nirvana-Elden battle took an interesting turn earlier this month, when a purported “intervenor defendant” arrived on the scene. Though the presiding judge tossed this individual’s request to join the suit, similar motions could well surface in the future. Plus, Dave Grohl acknowledged in October that Nirvana may ultimately change the Nevermind cover after all.