Group uses Brom murders to lampoon news coverage

David Brom is pictured on the cover of ``Helter Stupid,'' an album by a group called ``Negativland.'' A portion of the album cover appears to be a representation of a TV newscast. Convicted murderer David Brom is unhappy about it, but he's pictured on the cover of a record album the group Negativland says is a lampoon of the news media.

A portrait of Brom is prominently displayed under the caption ``Killer Song.'' The album, produced by SST Records of Lawndale, Calif., is entitled, ``Helter Stupid.''

In the wake of the February 1988 killings of Brom's parents, brother and sister, many reporters looked for a connection between music and the killings because David and his father had argued over an album cover the night before the murders.

By its own admission, the band issued a bogus press release in March 1988 claiming that a ``federal official'' had canceled a 1988 musical tour pending an investigation of the murders.

``Our lie was intended for and directed to the media, and it proved very effective in exposing the unreliable process of cannibalization that passes for `news,' '' say liner notes on the inside of the cassette cover. The explanation was given under the caption, ``The Last Word.''


But Brom, now serving a life sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at St. Cloud, was not amused by the publicity.

``I know David was pretty angry about it,'' said his former attorney, Terry Walters of Rochester.

Walters said Brom has contacted an attorney about the possibility of legal action against the record company. Attorney Tom Stueber of St. Paul could not be reached for comment Friday.

According to a chronology of events contained in the album cover, the group's tour was actually canceled when it became apparent it would lose money.

But armed with the press release claiming a federal official ordered the tour canceled, several news organizations attempted to verify a link between the music and the killings -- some better than others.

Walters said he was aware of several news stories in the San Francisco area that discussed the alleged link between the band and the Brom murders.

The story initiated by the band did take hold in some publications, however.

The New Trouser Press Record Guide, a guide to alternative music, said Negativland's ``Christianity is Stupid'' song was allegedly the impetus for the Brom killings.


`` `Helter Stupid' is about the media menu of illusions we all eat from, as well as an attempt to materialize our perception of Negativland as a bogus subject of the voracious media meat grinder,'' the cassette cover says.

``Our act of creating a false association with such a tragedy will remain open to critical interpretation . . .''

``My immediate reaction is whoever did it is sick,'' Walters said.

Walters said Brom and his father had argued on the night before the killings, but the argument was primarily over an album cover, not the music itself, and the band was not Negativland.

In addition, Walters said the disagreement over the album cover was more a ``flashpoint'' that represented a deeper division between father and son.

The cover of the album also contains what appears to be a facsimile of a news story in which Olmsted County Deputy Jerry Nelson says there was a connection between the killings and a Negativland song.

But Nelson said Friday the story facsimile is pure fiction. The cassette does not mention a source of the purported news story.

``No, that's not my quote,'' he said Friday. ``This is just something that they're making up.''


Ron Coleman, director of publicity for SST Records, declined to return several phone calls to his California office.

Although news of the album is just now emerging, Kevin Adams, owner of Broadway Records in Rochester, said he has sold about 10 albums, cassettes and compact discs.

``People have been asking me about it today,'' he said Friday. ``I didn't order a whole lot. I didn't think it would sell that well.''

But, he added, ``I'm sure there are going to be many opinions about this.''p

What To Read Next
Caitlin and Jason Keck’s two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation committee begins next month.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.