Dave Grohl Speaks Out After Legal Action Was Taken Over Nirvana's Nevermind Album Cover

The Foo Fighters star said he has "many ideas" about how to resolve the issue.

Over the summer, Dave was one of 15 parties named in a lawsuit filed by Spencer Elden, who was four months old when a photo of him swimming nude underwater was used as Nirvana’s 1991 album artwork.

Now 30, Spencer has accused the defendants of “commercial child sexual exploitation”, branding the Nevermind cover image “commercial child pornography”.

BBC News pointed out at the time that non-sexualised images of infants are not typically considered child pornography under US law, but Spencer’s lawyer is arguing that the inclusion of a dollar bill – which was added to the photo digitally after it was taken – makes the subject appear “like a sex worker”.

Nirvana performing in 1993
Nirvana performing in 1993
Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images

A 30th anniversary re-release of Nevermind is planned for next month, with Spencer’s lawyer recently telling the Associated Press: “If there is a 30th anniversary re-release, [Spencer] wants for the entire world not to see his genitals.”

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Dave said he had “many ideas of how we should alter that cover”, telling the newspaper: “We’ll see what happens. We’ll let you know. I’m sure we’ll come up with something good.”

Asked how he felt about the litigation, Dave added: “I think that there’s much more to look forward to and much more to life than getting bogged down in those kinds of things. And, fortunately, I don’t have to do the paperwork.”

Dave Grohl on stage in May 2021
Dave Grohl on stage in May 2021
VALERIE MACON via Getty Images

In his lawsuit, Spencer stated he has suffered “lifelong damages” as a result of the Nevermind cover, including “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations”.

According to legal documents: “The images exposed Spencer’s intimate body part and lasciviously displayed Spencer’s genitals from the time he was an infant to the present day.”

Spencer as depicted on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind
Spencer as depicted on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind

Spencer has recreated the Nevermind cover on several occasions in recognition of the album’s 10th, 20th and 25th anniversaries – always wearing a swimsuit – but has expressed mixed opinions about his involvement in it in past years.

In 2015, he wrote in The Guardian he was “glad” his photo had been chosen for the cover, stating: “It is a weird thing to get my head around, being part of such a culturally iconic image. But it’s always been a positive thing and opened doors for me.”

A year later, he told Time magazine: “It’s hard not to get upset when you hear how much money was involved… I go to a baseball game and think about it: ‘Man, everybody at this baseball game has probably seen my little baby penis,’ I feel like I got part of my human rights revoked.”

In 2016, he recreated the cover for the New York Post, telling the newspaper: in an accompanying interview: “Recently I’ve been thinking, ‘What if I wasn’t OK with my freaking penis being shown to everybody?’ I didn’t really have a choice.”


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