Following this week’s news that the 12-year-old cover star of Placebo’s 1996 self-titled debut is now all grown-up, and looking to sue the band for emotional damages after saying that the image ‘ruined his childhood’ – we though we’d investigate some of the other stories behind the memorable youngsters that adorn some of music’s more famous covers.

Grabbing a baby or a kid to grace the record sleeve has worked for many in the past.

From the creepy to the cute, to the cool and the controversial, we’ve collected some of the more interesting instances of kids on covers.

– Words: Gabe Andrews & Al Newstead

– Images: Morgan Benson

Following this week's news that the 12-year-old cover star of Placebo's 1996 self-titled debut is now all grown-up, and looking to sue the band for emotional damages after saying that the image ‘ruined his childhood’ - we though we'd investigate some of the other stories behind the memorable youngsters that adorn some of music's more famous covers. Grabbing a baby or a kid to grace the record sleeve has worked for many in the past. From the creepy to the cute, to the cool and the controversial, we've collected some of the more interesting instances of kids on covers.
Placebo - Placebo (1996)
David Fox, now 28-years-old, is looking to sue the band for the use of his photo for their debut album, taken when he was 12. Apparently the use of the photo has caused him considerable emotional damage, claiming it forced him to drop out of high school to avoid harassment over the album cover. Just another ‘Nancy Boy’?
Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
The iconic image of the baby chasing the dollar bill is probably one of the most famous album covers of all time. At 3 months old Spencer Elden was thrown into a pool while his parents pocketed $200 for his efforts. He re-shot the famous picture in 2001 for Rolling Stone and again in 2008, telling US radio station “Quite a lot of people have seen my penis, so that’s kinda cool.”
U2 - War (1983)
Peter Rowen was featured not once but multiple times on U2 covers. The most memorable perhaps being his angry glare at the camera for War, at the age of six, he graced the cover of Boy and at five he was on U2’s first EP Three. He continues to be connected with the band and, as a professional photographer, has even shot some of their live shows.
The Temper Trap - Conditions (2009)
Originally the image for Temper Trap’s debut record was going to be of a girl who had just witnessed the collapse of the Twin Towers on television, it was eventually decided that the image sent the wrong message. The photo they settled on was one of an Afghani refugee taken by National Geographic photographer Steven McCurry.
Blind Faith - Blind Faith (1969)
The original cover for the first and only album from the British supergroup wasn’t used in the U.S. due to its controversial content. Featuring a topless image of one Mariora Goschen, who was only 11-years-old at the time. Goschen was hired by photographer Bob Seidemann and paid the princely sum of £40 for her risqué appearance.
Vampire Weekend - Contra (2010)
Ann Kirsten Kennis took the band, their record label and photographer to court over the use of an old Polaroid image of her used without her consent for the cover of Vampire Weekend’s second album. The band and label XL Recordings settled the matter for an undisclosed amount, however maintain they followed proper process in using the photo and are currently pursuing legal action against the photographer.
Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy (1973)
The naked children that crawl over this album cover are actually brother and sister, Stefan Gates and his sister Sam, aged five, are seen clambering over the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland using techniques to multiply their images. Stefan Gates is now better known as a TV personality in Britain, as the presenter for BBC’s Cooking In The Danger Zone.
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (1993)
The recent story behind this cover is particularly interesting. Billy Corgan claimed via twitter last year that the band had just discovered current Pumpkins bass player Nicole Florentino was one of the girls on the cover; and she had kept it a secret so as to not jeopardize her chances of playing with the band. Turns out it was all a hoax… In actual fact, one of the girls was Ali Laenger, now a fashion designer. The other? Still a mystery…
Blind Melon - Blind Melon (1992)
Georgia Graham, younger sister of Blind Melon’s drummer Glenn Graham, was the bee girl featured on the band’s debut album cover. However it was the video for their track ‘No Rain’ that featured 10-year-old Heather DeLoach dressed as the nerdy bee girl performing a tap dance that garnered the most attention. She’s gone on to become an actress and appear in several TV series, including ER.
The Notorious BIG - Ready To Die (1994)
Keithroy Yearwood bragged for years to his schoolmates about being the baby on the cover of Biggie’s album. 16 years after the release of the album, it was confirmed that Yearwood was a baby model from the Bronx chosen by an agency because he resembled a baby Biggie. He pocketed $150 (and bragging rights) for his troubles.
Björk - Björk (1977)
While the use of younger self-portraits has been somewhat more popular amongst hip-hop artists (think Nas’ Illmatic, or more recently Lil Wayne inking younger images of himself); a lesser-known instance is the cover for Björk’s first official solo record in 1977. A nearly-forgotten release that features an 11-year-old Björk singing traditional folk songs and even a cover of The Beatles’ “Fool On The Hill”.
KoRn - KoRn (1994)
The slightly creepy and violent cover of Korn’s self-titled debut album featured then 6-year-old Justine Ferrara. Her uncle, Paul Pontius, signed the band to Immortal/Epic Records and paid his niece $400 for the work. The gentlemen casting the shadow on the cover was actually “very nice” according to Ferrara, with the shadows of the tools he’s holding in fact edited in after the shoot.
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes (1983)
3-year-old Billie Jo Campbell didn’t actually know she was being photographed in this shot. She was being told that there were animals in the building and became quite irate that she couldn’t see anything. One day Campbell went to work with her designer mother who was approached by a photographer to have her on the cover of this album, her fee for the work? $100.
Van Halen - 1984 (1984)
Artist Margo Nahas was responsible for the controversial cover featuring a baby angel smoking a cigarette. The image was actually based on a photograph taken by Nahas of youngster Carter Helm. The original photo excluded the wings and table, which were painted in later, and the cigarettes were actually candy.
The Lemonheads - Hate Your Friends (1987)
Bass strumming Lemonhead, Jesse Peretz liked this family photo of his two siblings so much that he asked his mother whether it could be used for the cover of his band’s debut album. The photo was originally taken by Peretz’ mother 45 years ago in Vermont of his brother David and sister Lisa.
The Cult - Ceremony (1991)
The use of 11-year-old Eternity DuBray’s image caused quite a stir indeed. Parents of the Native American Indian sued the band, their label Sire Records and Time Warner for $61 million claiming the photo was used without their permission. Unfortunately for the boy’s parents, the case was dismissed. The picture was also used in the band’s video for “Wild Hearted Son”.
The Who - Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy (1971)
This singles compilation features the exterior of The Railway Hotel, a popular hangout for Mods back in their heyday. The photo represents the band looking out the window at their younger selves. While not all the children have been identified, one of them has been confirmed as one Paul Curbishley, younger brother of the band’s manager Bill.
Goo Goo Dolls - A Boy Named Goo (1995)
The cover star is in fact Carl Gellert, whose professional photographer father, Vance, published the photo of his son in a book titled Carlvision. Later, he sold the image for $6,000 to the Goo Goo Dolls to use it as the cover of their fifth studio album; earning young Carl the nickname ‘Goo’ in the process.
Everclear - Sparkle and Fade (1995)
The alt-rock band’s major-label debut displays the original trio as youngsters, highlighting their long-standing friendship. Unfortunately the strong foundations that started the band eventually became tenuous, with bass player Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund leaving Everclear in 2003. Frontman Art Alexakis just soldiered on, bringing in another line-up, who were again replaced in 2009.

Write a Letter to the Editor