David Bowie Helped Trent Reznor Get Sober, Nine Inch Nails Singer Says

“It feels like the loss of a mentor, fatherly figure, someone looking out for you,” musician says of deceased “Ziggy Stardust” legend

David Bowie played a part in helping Trent Reznor free himself from the grip of drugs and alcohol, the Nine Inch Nails frontman recalled in a tribute to Bowie published by Rolling Stone on Tuesday.

Reznor recalls how Bowie — who died Jan. 10 at  age 69 after a battle with cancer — offered him words of encouragement as Reznor faltered along “an unsustainable, reckless, self-destructive path.”

“When I met David, he had been through that. And he was content. He was at peace with himself, with an incredible wife, clearly in love,” Reznor recalled. “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.'”

Reznor, who toured and recorded with Bowie, recalled how, after he cleaned up, he regretted not being in top form while working with the legendary “Ziggy Stardust” artist. He also remembered how Bowie congratulated a sober Reznor years later backstage at one of Bowie’s shows.

“I wanted to thank him in the way that he helped me. And I reluctantly went backstage, feeling weird and ashamed, like, ‘Hey, I’m the guy that puked on the rug.’ And again, I was met with warmth, and grace, and love. And I started to say, ‘Hey listen, I’ve been clean for …’ I don’t even think I finished the sentence; I got a big hug. And he said, ‘I knew. I knew you’d do that. I knew you’d come out of that.’ I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it.”

Reznor went on to call Bowie a “mentor” and a “fatherly figure.”

“I didn’t think we were done. It feels like the loss of a mentor, fatherly figure, someone looking out for you, reminding you that in a world where the bar keeps seeming to be lower, where stupidity has got a foothold, there is room for excellence and uncompromising vision,” Reznor said.