Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
On November 7, 2020, Nine Inch Nails was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame after having been on the ballot three times.
In addition to Trent Reznor, other past and present members Alessandro Cortini, Robin Finck, Danny Lohner, Atticus Ross, Ilan Rubin and Chris Vrenna were included. Reznor stated during a livestreamed band interview that he wanted Richard Patrick and Charlie Clouser to be included as well, but that he was only allowed so many band members.
The band was inducted by Iggy Pop and thoughts were shared during the ceremony by St. Vincent, Rick Rubin, Miley Cyrus, Jimmy Iovine, David Fincher, Mark Ronson, and Saul Williams. At the time of the induction, Ilan Rubin was the youngest person (age 32) to be inducted by the Rock Hall. In 2019, Reznor had inducted The Cure.
The following statements and photos from past and present NIN members were posted to nin.com a few days before the induction ceremony.
Since joining Trent and NIN, my life as a musician has accelerated in unexpected ways and has provided an incredibly unique creative journey.
Thanks to Trent’s knack for finding talent and encouraging all of us to push boundaries, I am very proud to be a member of the current band and team at large. Initially our commonality was the love for the music but after years of working together, we have become more than family.
This marks my 16th year as a band member. The induction to the Rock n Roll HoF is an incredible honor and reinforces the belief that I have been part of something truly special.
I am forever thankful to Trent, Atticus, Ilan, Robin, management and the crew that has supported us through thick and thin.
Thanks Rock Hall, and to all who voted, for inducting Nine Inch Nails this year. I am forever grateful to the NIN Universe of music, of band and crew, of fans, and of course to TR. NIN has provided to me endless opportunities to experience this gorgeous world in ways a shy, gangly kid from Georgia never knew to dream of. Most of all it provided a space where that kid would fast grow to vibrantly connect with throngs of fiery individuals, in their hometowns, around the planet, to thrash and sway and to relate. Twists of people, red-faced and heaving, screaming songs at us. I don’t take any of it for granted.
In 1993, while still in my early 20’s, I joined my favorite band – Nine Inch Nails. Now it’s 2020, I’m just a few months shy of 50 years old, and I’ve been given the surreal honor of joining Trent and the boys in their induction into the RnR Hall Of Fame. All these years later, I still can’t believe my luck….
2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my all time favorite films. Stepping into the control room at Nothing Studios at the beginning of that very year was, for me, something akin to the Stargate Sequence in the movie. This was where The Fragile was created, a record I’d obsessively listened to for the prior 18 months, it was the room I had mythologized into the spiritual home of Nine Inch Nails and the musician I most admired – Trent Reznor. Close to twenty years later I’m still obsessively listening to NIN, though from a different vantage point, and Trent remains the musician I most admire.
Nothing Studios has moved many times since 2001, and I have been lucky enough to move with it. Year after year we’ve toiled, unraveling life and music, whether that be in a fancy control room, the back of the bus, or a converted bedroom – what’s kept things exciting is the voyage of discovery. The further one sails the more there is to discover. To me that is the essence of NIN – so many bands have a formula but Nine Inch Nails is defined by not having one. An aesthetic, yes – but not a formula. From 1989 to present day every release or tour breaks down a new door. Fashion is transitory, but passion, authenticity and honesty are not.
Never one to make plans, it is with a deep sense of gratitude I look back on the last two decades – the friends I have made, the amazing bandmates I stand beside and most importantly the music. If ‘work’ is the opportunity to spend everyday doing the thing I love most with my closest friend I’m left with little to complain of (though I excel at complaining).
The Induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an immense and unexpected honor. I’m incredibly thankful to all those who made it possible – everyone in the NIN galaxy, every fan who, like me, has leant on the songs to get them through, everyone at Silva Artist Management and especially my wife and family. A crowning achievement for the band, no doubt, but not a finale. Trent shows no sign of slowing down and in the world of NIN the best may still be yet to come.
The invitation to play with Nine Inch Nails is what I always see as the turning point in my life and career. The uncompromising drive, creativity, and quest for perfection were immediately evident, and I knew that this was the band for me. I’ve always been grateful to Trent and co. for having taken the chance on a then 20-year-old, and I feel an immense sense of pride looking back on the countless shows and hours spent playing the music. The songs have unquestionably stood the test of time, and bringing those pieces to life, night after night, city after city, for crowds with endless enthusiasm has been nothing but an honor. And as far as honors go, I’m proud to say I now have something in common with so many of my heroes who have been inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, as well. Never did I think I would reach this feat, let alone at the age of 32. I owe it to Trent Reznor, our friends and bandmates, my family, and of the course the Hall Of Fame itself. Thank you all so much.
It’s hard for me to put into words just how much being inducted into the Rock and Roll HOF means to me. It is such an honor, and being inducted with my oldest friend makes it even more special. Life has come full circle in a way. Trent and I started this whole ride in Cleveland decades ago, and here we are back in Cleveland to be enshrined with some of the greatest artists in music history.
It’s hard to believe that NIN got its start over 30 years ago. In 1988, NIN was asked to open for Skinny Puppy on the east coast leg of the “Vivisect VI” tour. We did that tour driving up and down the coast crammed into Trent’s hatchback. It was the most exciting thing ever. I was 21 years old and had no idea what was to come.
One of my fondest memories was when we were living in the Sharon Tate house while making The Downward Spiral. We always worked hard, even though it never really felt like work. We knew something special was happening…You could just feel it. But I don’t think anyone could have predicted The Downward Spiral’s success and its longevity. We had the greatest live show on Earth, capped by our now legendary, mud-soaked Woodstock show in 1994 that we ultimately won a Grammy for.
My years with Trent and NIN are some of the best of my life, and I continue to treasure those memories. And now, those memories can live on in the Rock and Roll HOF. Thank you to every single fan…past, present, and future that continue to discover NIN. I personally appreciate all the fan support not only during my time in NIN, but for my career afterward as well. I am eternally grateful for everything we accomplished with NIN.
Rock Hall Exhibit
An exhibit representing the band's career-shifting performance at Woodstock '94 was installed at the Rock Hall in Cleveland. The exhibit was overseen by NIN art director John Crawford.
Induction speech by Iggy Pop
When I first heard about Nine Inch Nails and heard a little of their music I thought, “Well who is this guy?” So I took a look, and I saw a face straight out of 15th century Spain. I think Trent could’ve played Zorro. If he’d been alive at the right time, I think he could’ve been painted by Velasquez or El Greco, and his portrait would probably be hanging in the Prado today.
Listening to Nine Inch Nails’ music, which is so often called industrial, I actually hear a lot of funk. Just listen to “Closer,” and the foundation could be Stevie Wonder or George Clinton. But on top of that is a focused and relentless process of emotional destruction, which paints a portrait of pain, pressure, and dissatisfaction. It’s the soundtrack to the dark and lonely party that was beginning to play out in America at that period, so I would call it not industrial, but the sound of industro, digital ambition.
I went to the Nine Inch Nails show at the Forum in Los Angeles—the one together with David Bowie—and Trent held the center of that room just by being a kind of dark spot hunched behind the mic. I’d seen the same thing accomplished in different ways by T. Rex at Wembley, Nirvana at the Pyramid Club, and Bob Dylan in ’65. This is the mark of the master artist—simply to connect.
The controversial and brilliant French novelist Michel Houellebecq when asked the secret to his success said, “It’s easy, just tell the truth.” Listening to Nine Inch Nails feels like hearing the truth, so it gets you a little bit closer to God. It is my honor to assist in inducting Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Acceptance speech by Trent Reznor
Thank you so much, Iggy.
Hello everyone, what a disorienting, strange year we find ourselves in. As I’ve been wrapping my head around Nine Inch Nails being welcomed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I think I was most looking forward to the ceremony itself, where hopefully the whole camp, past and present, was going to get together and have a moment. And we’re all stuck in our little boxes staring at our screens.
Even now, music’s always been the thing that keeps me going. And as an artist, I think the most significant accomplishment, or feeling, is realizing something you’ve created from a fragile and intimate place has reached out, resonated and affected someone else, possibly changing how they see the world. So, as to whatever being in a Hall of Fame means, thank you for the recognition.
With that said, this has been far from a singular endeavor. And I first want to introduce my fellow inductees: Atticus Ross, Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, Ilan Rubin, Danny Lohner, and Chris Vrenna. I love these guys and they have all been an integral and a central part of why we’re here. Additionally, there’s been a number of other key players involved over the years I’d like to recognize and thank, including Charlie Clouser, James Woolley, Rich Patrick, Josh Freese, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Jerome Dillon, Aaron North, Jeff Ward, and Jeordie White.
Throughout the years I’ve benefited from a strong collection of people around me that have offered everything from encouragement to guidance to a kick in the ass when needed. These include Jimmy Iovine, John Silva, Marc Geiger, Ross Rosen, Alan Moulder, Rick Rubin, Zia Modabber, Bill Harper, David Fincher, Jerome Crooks, Steve Barnett, Jim Guerinot, and John Malm. You’re all appreciated and this is for you, too.
A special thank you to my wife Mariqueen and my kids, who keep me humble and make everything worthwhile. And for the Nine Inch Nails fans out there, you guys are the best. We’ve wound up in some weird places together, and you’re an intense bunch that can drive me out of my mind — but you’re the best.
This journey’s far from over, if I have any say in it, so let’s stop fucking around, patting ourselves on the back, and get to it. Hope to see you all in the flesh soon. Thank you.
Documentary segment comments
A documentary segment in between the induction speech and the acceptance speech featured comments from various music industry figures, chopped up and interspersed with interview bits and other clips of Reznor.
Rick Rubin: "Nine Inch Nails was always outsider music. The rest of the culture is moving and changing in a certain way. And they were always outside of it."
Miley Cyrus: "They're a testament that you can make infectious music that you can't get enough of."
Jimmy Iovine: "Trent has a enormous impact culturally. His psyche is the lead instrument of that band."
St. Vincent: "'Head Like A Hole' has two fucking choruses. If you're trying to think of that song, that's the song that's like 'bow down before ..' oh, wait, no! Then it's uh 'head like a ..' oh, wait! Both of those are great choruses and they're in the same song."
Saul Williams: "There's that similarity with an artist like Prince where you know that a lot of those songs came from late night solo ventures into the self."
Rick Rubin: "Trent brings in collaborators and other players but it is a singular vision and that vision is his."
Jimmy Iovine: "Nine Inch Nails is a pure, raw-nerve emotion. It appeals to you and freaks you out at the same time."
David Fincher: "There are a lot of people who can write a good lick or produce something that's eminently hum-able. But it's when somebody drops something in your lap...that has to be dealt with, that's the difference."
St. Vincent: "Nine Inch Nails came out of the industrial scene of the '80s, and made heavy, corrosive industrial goth music massively popular and made it something that suburban kids were wearing t-shirts of."
Saul Williams: "It's a huge influence on a generation of kids that needed direction. I mean, I could be funny about it and say, 'Yeah, he helped a lotta suburban white kids make sense of their lives,' you know? And, um..But in a great way though. In a great fuckin'
Mark Ronson: "I was at that age, 14, I was angsty as fuck and I wanted rebellion music too. It was really like one of those records that you just hear you go, 'Oh, that's what I like now."
Miley Cyrus: "You feel a sense of, "I'm not alone 'cause someone else has felt this way." Their music kind of erases loneliness in a way."
Jimmy Iovine: "To me, 'Closer' was a next jump for him."
St. Vincent: "The performance at Woodstock in the mud, that's gonna be in my brain forever. They just created this world that was tumbling towards hell in the best possible way."
Miley Cyrus: "You really start to have this deep appreciation for the melodies. And when you have a great melody it can lend itself to any genre. I think that's how a song becomes classic."
Jimmy Iovine: "I've now seen all their movies. And the music that they do for those movies is as interesting and as powerful as Nine Inch Nails."
Jimmy Iovine: "A good way to look at music is to look on the past. NWA. The Clash. Patti Smith. We've had those moments where complete anarchy of music and the culture collide and you get people that are ahead of their time. That's where Nine Inch Nails to me, fits."
David Fincher: "There are best hits, you know, and then there's a body of work. It's a sense of a progression through the not knowing and the finding the vulnerability of that and the triumph of it. And it's rare."