Other than the fact that the FBI, the Michigan State Police and Chicago’s finest all believed that Nine Inch Nails vocalist Trent Reznor was dead, 1989 was a pretty good year for NIN. The band released their first album, Pretty Hate Machine which contained the soon-to-be smash single “Down In It” that would help propel NIN to early stardom. Prior to the release of the first song ever written by Reznor, NIN headed to Chicago to shoot a video for the single. And that’s when this story starts to get very, very weird.
In order to achieve the aerial shots for the video, the crew attached balloons to a few cameras. One of the cameras decided to go rogue and floated over 300 miles to Michigan before landing in the middle of a cornfield (I told you things were going to get weird). The camera was then found by a farmer who, after looking at the footage of Reznor covered in cornstarch (in order to enhance his dead-guy look), surrounded by guitarist Richard Patrick and drummer Chris Vrenna, turned it into the police. The footage appeared to be authentically nefarious in nature to the cops who were convinced that the footage in the camera was either the product of some sort of satanic ritual, gang-related slaying or even a suicide.
If you’re a fan of NIN you may already be acquainted with this bizarre bit of history, especially if you also watched the television tabloid show Hard Copy back in the early 1990s. Hard Copy took NIN and Reznor to task then when they ran an exposé on the faux-murder and its lengthy criminal investigation. During the broadcast which originally aired on March 5th, 1991, the show used cheesy “re-enactments” of the “crime” as well as providing equally cheesy and condescending commentary by way of host Alan Frio and the glib curator of the segment, actor Rafael Abramovitz. They even included an interview segment with Reznor himself during which he shared his thoughts about the bizarre debacle:
“When the news came through that this was some sort of a cult killing, and that I had been killed, this great story, my initial reaction was that it was really funny, that something could be that blown out of proportion, and so many people were working on it. And I felt kinda good that the police had made idiots of themselves.”
More after the jump…