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Out of the Pool

Spencer Elden in the pool 25 years after Nirvana’s Nevermind cover shot (2016) – Photo: John Chapple

You’re Spencer Elden, one of the most famous kids of Rock’n’Roll: How did you come to be in that pool?

Thank you, you’re nice. I was tossed in a pool as a baby naked. Kirk Weddle, commissioned by Nirvana’s art director, was hired to get the shot they had in mind. So, Weddle called my dad Rick Elden running his sets and prop company. We all rented out the public pool for an hour, they tossed me in, and that was it took the photos gave them to universal music group. And that’s how I became a small part of an album that became a huge hit. I was rented out as a prop for a photo shoot.

Your relationship with Nirvana and the story of Kurt:

No relationship, really. I reached out them. They where rude, I’m just on the cover as a baby naked.

Eyes – Spencer Elden
Spencer in his Studio

Today you’re a painter: is there any “grunge” inspiration in your works?

I’m just making stuff.

Do you think pain is an essential condition for a creative being?

No, you got to rise above.

Looking at our times, what do you think is the right word/philosophy to carry on: Nevermind or Fight?

Gotta do it all.

Do you think humanity is now nearer to an awareness of its death wish?

Man, I don’t know. I know that more people are working on bringing more attention to the topic and wake people up with good stainable design like Elon Musk and Shepard Fairey. On the other hand, there is a ton of people that seem unresponsive with lack of care. Support your friends and be nice to yourself and everyone around you.


Skinned Man – Spencer Elden
Face – Spencer Elden
Nevermind Session (feat. Spencer) – Photo: Kirk Weddle

About the set in the pool, Kirk Weddle talks about baby Spencer as a “hell of a model”:

“He was four months old and that was his first time in the water. He couldn’t swim but he could drift really well. We probably shot him for less than five minutes. The kid is a natural”.

Over 26,000,000 copies of the album have been sold worldwide, to which Spencer stated he feels as if the entire world has seen him naked. He has worked for Obey’s Shepard Fairey and continues to define his artistic style through inspirations from other street artists.

Edit: On August 2021, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the album release, Spencer sued Kurt Cobain’s estate for child sexual exploitation. He said his parents never signed a release authorising the use of his image on the album, and also alleged the nude image constitutes child pornography.

Edit: In California District Court on 3 January 2022, Judge Fernando M Olguin dismissed the case “with leave to amend”. Lawyers for Elden missed the deadline to file an opposition to the Nirvana estate’s request to dismiss the case made in December. On September 2, 2022, Olguin definitely dismissed the lawsuit filed by Spencer, because he had learned about the album cover more than 10 years ago — he had waited too long to file his lawsuit, making his claims untimely.

More on

Nevermind Session (feat. doll) – Photo: Kirk Weddle
Nevermind Session (feat. Kurt Cobain) – “We were shooting a touring band in the morning, bad idea. Kurt showed up, wrapped himself in a bathrobe and immediately went to sleep on the pavement. Nobody wanted to wake him. We put a guitar next to him and shot a few frames.” Kirk Weddle
Nevermind Session (feat. Nirvana) – Photo: Kirk Weddle
Nevermind Session (feat. Kurt Cobain) – Photo: Kirk Weddle
Nevermind Session (feat. Spencer) – Photo: Kirk Weddle
Spencer with a Nevermind vinyl copy – Photo: John Chapple

3 thoughts on “Out of the Pool Leave a comment

  1. It is NOT child pornography, that is ridiculous. There is nothing sexual about a naked baby. For centuries naked babies have been used in art.
    The fact the parents allowed the baby to be used for a photo shoot is questionable. Most babies love water and have a natural connection with being in water (9 months in the womb).


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