Trent Reznor shared a tribute to David Bowie in Rolling Stone Tuesday, and in his remembrance the musician recalls how the late star, who died Jan. 10, influenced him. “His music really helped me relate to myself and figure out who I was,” the Nine Inch Nails frontman recalls. “He was a tremendous inspiration in terms of what was possible, what the role of an entertainer could be, that there are no rules.”
Bowie toured with Nine Inch Nails in 1995 — and while Reznor remembers the gigs fondly, he says that period was one of great personal upheaval for him. “On that tour, I was a mess, quite honestly,” he says. “This was the peak of Nine Inch Nails’ newfound rocket ship of fame. It distorted my personality and became overwhelming.”
Reznor says Bowie helped him deal with his substance abuse issues and the trappings of fame. “When I met David, he had been through that,” Reznor remembers. “And he was content. … There were a number of times where the two of us were alone, and he said some things that weren’t scolding, but pieces of wisdom that stuck with me: ‘You know, there is a better way here, and it doesn’t have to end in despair or in death, in the bottom.’”
After hitting rock bottom and then recovering, Reznor says he encountered Bowie and that when he tried to apologize for the problems he caused as an addict, the rocker greeted him “with warmth, and grace, and love.” Added Reznor: “I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it. It was another very important moment in my life.”
Reznor spoke at length with EW in 2014 about touring with Bowie. “That’s one of those things where I still look back and go, ‘Oh man, that actually really happened,” he said. “He’s the real deal. He’s one of those few people who didn’t disappoint you when you actually get to know them.”
Head over to Rolling Stone to read Reznor’s complete tribute and check out the music video for “I’m Afraid of Americans” that the two made together in 1997 below.