His was the baby face that adorned one of the most iconic music albums of all time.
The unwitting star of Nirvana’s breakthrough Nevermind album – one that would catapult them to super-stardom – wasn’t old enough to be aware of his role in the birth of grunge music.
Spencer Elden, now 22, is still introduced as the ‘Nirvana baby’, more than two decades after the release of the album and has learned to cope with the extra attention his brush with fame generates.
The fine art student now studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where his father Rick let his infant son appear as a model for an up-and-coming band’s new album in 1991.
He told CNN: ‘When I am introduced, they introduce me as the Nirvana baby.
‘My dad was an artist rigging special effects for Hollywood. They went to the local pool, threw me in the water and that was it.
‘It was a friend-helping-a-friend kind of thing.’
It is now 22 years since Nevermind was released by the then little-known Seattle band, featuring hit songs including ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ forced alternative rock into the mainstream.
The front cover, which features Spencer as a baby swimming naked in a pool as he appears to chase a dollar bill being reeled in on a fish hook.
At the time, Rick Elden shared a studio in old town Pasadena with other artists to help pay the rent.
Among them was photographer Kirk Weddle, who had the contract to photograph a baby underwater.
Rick Elden remembers, ‘Babies have a gag reflex. If you blow in their face, they hold their breath.
‘I blew in Spencer’s face and put him in the water. Kirk was shooting 18 frames a second, so Spencer was in the water for about two seconds.’
The pair did two shoots on one roll of film, before going for lunch at a taco house unaware of the significance the images would have.
Neither Spencer nor his father has ever received royalties from the image.
Perhaps unsurprisingly he has grown up to become a fan of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s music.
He told CNN: ‘Definitely, I like Nirvana a lot and there are no songs that I don’t like – they all have a special place for people.’
He has never met any of the band members though. Kurt Cobain, who was married to singer Courtney Love with whom he had a daughter Frances Bean, shot himself at his Seattle home in April, 1994, at the age of 27.
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