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Nevermind Baby Poses Again

The teenager who, as a baby, was featured naked underwater on the cover of Nirvana's breakthrough 1991 album, Nevermind, recently re-created the famous photo.


To a generation of music fans, he was the "face" of the 1990s: a naked baby in a swimming pool, reaching towards a dollar bill on the end of a fish hook. Seventeen years later, the cover boy of Nirvana's second album, Nevermind, has recreated the classic underwater shot that went on to adorn more than 26 million record sleeves and the bedroom walls of teenage grunge fans.


You can view the photo here


He is Spencer Elden and, thankfully, this time he chose to wear shorts. "Quite a few people in the world have seen my penis. It's kind of cool, I guess," Spencer said. "I feel like I'm the world's biggest porn star. But I'm just a normal kid living it up and doing the best I can while I'm here."


Now 17, he is a typically laid-back high school student of the sort who once formed Nirvana's core audience. He lives in Eagle Rock, near Glendale, California, recently bought a car and – ironically, given the nature of his fame – is a mustard-keen water polo player.


In 1991, Spencer's parents were paid just $200 for allowing their friend, underwater photographer Kirk Weddle, to photograph the then nine-month-old baby.


His father, Rick, said: "He [Weddle] calls us up and he goes, 'Hey, Rick, you want to make 200 bucks and throw your kid in the drink?' I said, 'What's up?' And he goes, 'Well, I was shooting kids all this week. Why don't you meet me at the Rose Bowl, we'll, you know, throw the kid in the drink, it'd be cool'. So we all just had a big party at the pool. And no one had any idea what was going on."


The original photograph and the recent recreation by the British photographer John Chapple were shot from the bottom of the pool at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Centre in Pasedena, 17 feet (five metres) underwater.


"Spencer just jumped straight in," Chapple said. "It was a pain for him, because he wasn't wearing goggles, so by the end his eyes were killing. I asked his father how they shot the original, and he said the trick had been to blow in the baby's face just before throwing him underwater. Babies have a reflex that stops them choking. Apparently, there was someone standing, just out of shot, ready to rescue him."


For Nirvana, the success of Nevermind was a mixed blessing. Released in September 1991, it became the band's breakthrough album, bringing the Seattle grunge scene to a worldwide audience. It was listed 17th in Rolling Stone magazine's "500 greatest albums of all time" but the pressures of superstardom weighed heavily on the lead singer, Kurt Cobain. Three years and one album after Nevermind's release, he shot himself in a suicide widely ascribed to his drug addiction.


Spencer, for his part, says the record helped bring about a typically choppy adolescence. He grew up with a platinum copy of Nevermind hanging on his bedroom wall and once confessed, in moments of hormonal frustration, to using the chat-up line "You want to see my penis again?" at teenage discos.


He was once invited to swim in a wealthy woman's pool because of his status as the Nirvana baby. Another time, he met "Weird Al" Yankovic, who lampooned the Nevermind cover on his 1992 disc, Off the Deep End, in which a doughnut replaced the dollar note.


In 2001, Rolling Stone asked Spencer to remodel the Nevermind shot to mark the album's 10th anniversary. In 2003, aged 12, he featured on the cover of The Dragon Experience, the third solo album by cEvin Key.


Last year, he was sent to a military boarding school to correct what his parents have described as a tendency to test authority. He's now hoping to either enrol at West Point Military Academy, or a local art school.




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Nevermind Baby Poses Again


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The teenager who, as a baby, was featured naked underwater on the cover of Nirvana's breakthrough 1991 album, Nevermind, recently re-created the famous photo.

To a generation of music fans, he was the "face" of the 1990s: a naked baby in a swimming pool, reaching towards a dollar bill on the end of a fish hook. Seventeen years later, the cover boy of Nirvana's second album, Nevermind, has recreated the classic underwater shot that went on to adorn more than 26 million record sleeves and the bedroom walls of teenage grunge fans.


You can view the photo here


He is Spencer Elden and, thankfully, this time he chose to wear shorts. "Quite a few people in the world have seen my penis. It's kind of cool, I guess," Spencer said. "I feel like I'm the world's biggest porn star. But I'm just a normal kid living it up and doing the best I can while I'm here."


Now 17, he is a typically laid-back high school student of the sort who once formed Nirvana's core audience. He lives in Eagle Rock, near Glendale, California, recently bought a car and – ironically, given the nature of his fame – is a mustard-keen water polo player.


In 1991, Spencer's parents were paid just $200 for allowing their friend, underwater photographer Kirk Weddle, to photograph the then nine-month-old baby.


His father, Rick, said: "He [Weddle] calls us up and he goes, 'Hey, Rick, you want to make 200 bucks and throw your kid in the drink?' I said, 'What's up?' And he goes, 'Well, I was shooting kids all this week. Why don't you meet me at the Rose Bowl, we'll, you know, throw the kid in the drink, it'd be cool'. So we all just had a big party at the pool. And no one had any idea what was going on."


The original photograph and the recent recreation by the British photographer John Chapple were shot from the bottom of the pool at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Centre in Pasedena, 17 feet (five metres) underwater.


"Spencer just jumped straight in," Chapple said. "It was a pain for him, because he wasn't wearing goggles, so by the end his eyes were killing. I asked his father how they shot the original, and he said the trick had been to blow in the baby's face just before throwing him underwater. Babies have a reflex that stops them choking. Apparently, there was someone standing, just out of shot, ready to rescue him."


For Nirvana, the success of Nevermind was a mixed blessing. Released in September 1991, it became the band's breakthrough album, bringing the Seattle grunge scene to a worldwide audience. It was listed 17th in Rolling Stone magazine's "500 greatest albums of all time" but the pressures of superstardom weighed heavily on the lead singer, Kurt Cobain. Three years and one album after Nevermind's release, he shot himself in a suicide widely ascribed to his drug addiction.


Spencer, for his part, says the record helped bring about a typically choppy adolescence. He grew up with a platinum copy of Nevermind hanging on his bedroom wall and once confessed, in moments of hormonal frustration, to using the chat-up line "You want to see my penis again?" at teenage discos.


He was once invited to swim in a wealthy woman's pool because of his status as the Nirvana baby. Another time, he met "Weird Al" Yankovic, who lampooned the Nevermind cover on his 1992 disc, Off the Deep End, in which a doughnut replaced the dollar note.


In 2001, Rolling Stone asked Spencer to remodel the Nevermind shot to mark the album's 10th anniversary. In 2003, aged 12, he featured on the cover of The Dragon Experience, the third solo album by cEvin Key.


Last year, he was sent to a military boarding school to correct what his parents have described as a tendency to test authority. He's now hoping to either enrol at West Point Military Academy, or a local art school.



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