Earlier this month, legal documents revealed that Spencer Elden – the individual who appeared on the cover of Nevermind (1991) as a baby – intended to file an amended child pornography complaint against Nirvana “on or before” Monday, November 22nd. Now, the plaintiff has officially submitted the updated suit.
Spencer Elden levied the original lawsuit back in August, alleging that Nirvana, Universal Music Group, Geffen Records, Courtney Love, the famous image’s photographer, and others had “knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography” with the cover for Nevermind, which has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.
Bearing in mind the latter figure – as well as the fact that the recently released 30th anniversary editions of Nevermind feature the original cover – Elden demanded “restitution and disgorgement of all profits and unjust enrichment obtained as a result of” the Nirvana defendants’ allegedly “unlawful conduct.”
As mentioned at the outset, Spencer Elden has doubled down on the shocking lawsuit – which previously took an interesting turn with the arrival of a purported intervenor defendant – by filing an amended complaint.
Like the initial action, this substantially similar version of the suit accuses Nirvana and the other defendants of profiting from the image at the center of the controversy, calling once again for the “disgorgement of all profits” deriving from the “unlawful conduct.”
However, the updated complaint appears to place a far greater emphasis on the role that Kurt Cobain allegedly played in selecting the photo of Elden for the Nevermind cover, seemingly suggesting that the associated decision-making process was motivated by depraved ideas and behaviors. (Cobain’s Journals was published in 2002, and the Aberdeen, Washington, native’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, said in 2018 that she was “regretful” that the personal documents had been released.)
“Undated journals written by Cobain sketch the album cover in a sexual manner, with semen all over it,” the newer of the legal documents states off the bat. “In several instances, the Journals describe Cobain’s twisted vision for the Never mind [sic] album cover, along with his emotional struggles:
“‘I like to make incisions into the belly of infants then f–k the incision until the child dies,’” Cobain’s journals allegedly state. “‘I haven’t masturbated in months because I’ve lost my imagination. I close my eyes and I see my father, little girls, German Shepards [sic] & TV news commentators, but no voluptuous, pouty lipped, naked-female sex kittens, wincing in ecstasy from the illusory positions I’ve conjured up in my mind.
“‘No, when I close my eyes I see lizards & flipper babies, the ones who were born deformed because their mothers took bad birth control pills. I’m seriously afraid to touch myself,’” an alleged entry from Kurt Cobain’s journals reads.
From there, the latest filing in the Spencer Elden-Nirvana legal battle (like the August complaint) maintains that “Cobain was instrumental in selecting Spencer’s image for the album cover” – albeit while alleging that Cobain had made said cover “provocative” and elaborating upon the purported behind-the-scenes discussions that took place regarding the “Nevermind image’s appeal to pedophiles.”
As part of “pushback” that came to light during these alleged discussions, the idea of censoring the album cover with a sticker emerged, the updated text indicates, but the plan was never put into effect, needless to say. Also omitted from the amended complaint is a line relaying that “Spencer never received any compensation” for appearing on the album’s cover.
At the time of publishing, the defendants didn’t seem to have commented publicly on this development in Elden’s action. And as the Nevermind 30th anniversary editions released without a cover-art change, once again, it doesn’t look as though the accused parties are especially concerned about the complaint.