Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor Remembers How David Bowie Helped Him Get Sober
Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor has reflected on how his idol David Bowie became a friend, confidante and collaborator. And how the British legend shared sage advice when the American industrial master was entering his personal downward spiral.
Reznor and Bowie became tight when the pair hit the road in the mid-‘90s for the co-headlining Outside trek. Bowie had reached out with the suggestion, "Let's collaborate and do a tour together,” Reznor recalls to Rolling Stone. “It's hard to express how validating and surreal the whole experience of the Outside tour was,” notes the NIN founder, “to actually meet this man in the flesh and find out, to my delight, that he passed any expectation I had. The fact that he was this graceful, charming, happy, fearless character became a new point of inspiration for me.”
The tour wound-up in February 1996 after 68 shows, though the pair renewed acquaintances the next year for the video to Earthling track “I’m Afraid of Americans.” The clip falls into the category of “me at my worst -- out of my mind and ashamed of who I was at that time,” Reznor now states.
At the time of the Outside tour, Renzor’s hard-rock juggernaut was flying high but, quietly, the singer was heading for an all-time low. The fame machine was tearing the artist apart. “My career was skyrocketing, but the scaffolding that was holding me up as a person was starting to collapse. I wasn't fully aware of how bad it was getting, but I knew, in my heart, that I was on an unsustainable, reckless, self-destructive path.”
Bowie knew it. He’d been there, made it back. And he offered some wisdom for the damaged singer. "You know, there is a better way here, and it doesn't have to end in despair or in death, in the bottom."
In time, Reznor recovered. He recalls sheepishly visiting Bowie backstage in L.A. He got a hug from the legend, and some words Renzor says still give him goosebumps: "I knew. I knew you'd do that. I knew you'd come out of that."
Bowie passed away Jan. 10, just two days after the release of what turned out to be his final album, Blackstar. The album has sailed to the peak of sales charts around the globe, including the U.S. -- Bowie’s first time atop the Billboard 200.