You may not recognize his name, but you have probably seen his work. If you’re a fan of Nirvana, you might as well have a copy of his most famous image. Currently, that particular image has come under scrutiny for what many call a frivolous, money-grabbing trial. Who photographed the now-infamous? No problem album cover?
nirvana second album cover
In 1991, Robert Fischer was the art director at Geffen Records. According to Austin Monthly, an up-and-coming grunge band called Nirvana was recording their second album, and lead singer Kurt Cobain came up with a cover idea involving submarine photography. Fisher was intrigued by the work of LA shutterbug Kirk Weddle, so she called him and asked, “Hey, do you have a shot of a naked kid underwater?”
Cobain’s initial album cover concept came to him after watching a documentary about underwater births. far out magazine Points out, the record label didn’t offer much in the way of guidance, other than immediately discarding stock footage of such submerged events. When the band decided to have a naked swimming kid on the cover of No problem, Geffen Records was unwilling to pay $7,500 for the stock footage, and that’s when Weddell got the call.
In 2019, Weddell reported Guardian That the record label paid them a total of $1000 and that the timing was perfect for a photoshoot with a baby. His friend, Rick Alden, had a four-month-old baby named Spencer, and he was fine to photograph her in a swimming pool for two hundred bucks.
The small-scale photoshoot took place in an Olympic-sized public swimming pool in Pasadena. As Wedel recalled, it took an hour to set up the shoot and about five minutes to complete the series of pictures from which Nirvana would choose their album cover image.
Weddell was relieved that he didn’t need to take pictures of Spencer underwater with a fishhook and dollar bill, which No problem the cover. Once he saw the print, he thought the label couldn’t go for pictures of the little solo swimmer, “His unit was so prominent in the picture. He’s a well-hung baby for a four-month-old, you know.” You know? I didn’t know if the label would go for it. So I went to a kids’ swim school and got half a dozen other kids into the water.”
As it turned out, Nirvana and their label completely approved of the Spencer shots, and one of the most memorable rock ‘n’ roll albums in history was covered.
the band got too wet
A few months after the initial underwater photoshoot, members of the Nirvana band went underwater with their instruments, which Weddle called “a hairy job” on a rare cold California morning. The band thought their timing was unreasonably early, and they were surprised to find out what Weddle had in mind. Ultimately, Cobain, Dave Grohl and Chris Novoselic reluctantly agreed to go underwater with musical instruments, to a series of now popular images that the record company rejected.
When Spencer Alden was 10 years old, he voluntarily returned to the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center swimming pool. He jumps in with Weddle to recreate the cover of No problem For Rolling Stone magazine.
for the 15th anniversary of No problemAlden recreated the cover image again, this time with photographer John Chappelle and he even offered to swim naked, explains New York Post. By the time they went underwater for a 25th anniversary photoshoot, Alden had an impressive “Nevermind” tattoo on his chest.
just in time for the 30th anniversary of No problem, Alden filed suit against practically everyone involved in the original photo session, as well as some who weren’t. Named in the lawsuit are Weddle, Courtney Love, Universal Music Group, David Geffen, surviving members of Nirvana, along with the Kurt Cobain estate and others. accordin to Diversity, he is seeking $150k in damages each from Alden’s lawyers claiming that the decades-old image constitutes child pornography.
Hollywood Reporter Says Alden may have expected a difficult time proving his case because “at times the plaintiff himself adopted the photo and sought publicity for himself.” According to Forbes, the fact that Alden enthusiastically offered to pose naked in a pool No problem The 15th anniversary is evidence of implied consent and that the 2021 lawsuit is unfounded, frivolous and sure to be thrown out of court.
Commemorative Coffee Table Book on the Way
to coincide with the 30th anniversary of No problemWedel is releasing a deluxe coffee table book titled Nirvana: The photo doesn’t matter. Combining 150 black and white and color photographs, including underwater shots of Alden at various ages, the book also includes images of members of the submerged Nirvana band. Two 8 x 10 signed prints will also be included with a signed bookplate and certificate of authenticity.
Austin Modern Rocks Gallery Point out that only 100 copies of the deluxe edition book will be made available and can be pre-ordered at a price of $750. Unsigned copies of all extras will be available for $40.
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