Legendary guitarist Adrian Belew's work can be found throughout Nine Inch Nails' career – namely on The Downward Spiral, The Fragile, Ghosts I–IV, and Hesitation Marks. Though Belew was formally asked to hit the road with Nine Inch Nails in 2013… though it never even came close to happening.
According to Belew in an interview with Ultimate Guitar, Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor asked him to come out and help reinvent the band. Belew rehearsed with Nine Inch Nails for 17 days before unnamed parties in the band wanted him gone. Reznor was heartbroken at the turn of events, and upon getting let go, Belew sunk into a bit of a depression made worse when King Crimson fired him shortly after.
"Yeah, I don't mind talking about it now. But at the time, it was so upsetting to me, I felt like it was better to say nothing. Here's my version of it. Now, you might ask someone else, and then they'd say something different, but when Trent called me, he was very excited about the idea that he and I would reinvent Nine Inch Nails."
"And he even told me, 'Don't worry about learning the songs verbatim. Just get to know them.' So, I listened to the songs, and I really didn't try to figure parts out. I did a little bit just out of curiosity. So when I got there, we had 12 weeks of rehearsal time. I thought that's the amount of time I had with Frank Zappa. I could learn anything in 12 weeks."
"But after 17 days, he said that some of the guys in the band weren't comfortable with me. They didn't feel like I was doing my parts right and that I knew the songs as good as I should. And I said, 'Listen, I can tell you for sure – this is 17 days in. I'm still working out ideas of sounds and things. I'm not even worried about the songs.' But those were 'LA kind of players,' you know? And in my mind, they have very little imagination, I'll put it that way. So he said, 'It's time for you to go.'"
"He was very upset about it himself. He said, 'You're my favorite player in the world, but if my guys in the band don't want you in the band… then there's nothing I can do.' It was terrible, really. I had put everything on hold for the next year and a half. Everything. Canceled all my gigs, came home, and didn't do anything for six months. I couldn't even get myself mentally and emotionally to go in the studio that's in my very own house and try to work on anything. Just lost all… everything."
"Three months after that happened, Robert Fripp decided I should no longer be in King Crimson. So that was the extra nail in the coffin. And after about six months, I said, 'Well, the good thing is now I'm Adrian Belew. I'm going to do Adrian Belew now. Boom. And from that point on, I wrote something called 'Flux.' I wrote an orchestral piece, played it with an orchestra. I did a movie with Pixar that won an Oscar [2016's Piper]. So it worked out for me, too."