entire Hazard music video project was filmed in and around Piru,
California, located two hours north of Los Angeles. Scenes that
included Robert Conrad and Jennifer O'Neill were shot in this town of
approx. 1,150 residents.
Creek, located in the Los Padres National Forest, was the waterway
used in the video. At the time of the shoot (spring of '92), the creek
was almost dry so thousands of gallons of water were purchased and
pumped into the creek bed to get the shots.
Though a diversion
from his other writings, Richard was the sole author to the lyrics of
high concept of the video was to make "Hazard" the "Ode
To Billy Joe" of 1992.
Given his liking
and repeated humming of the phrase "This old Nebraska town" as
the chosen setting, Richard contacted the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce
for a listing of Nebraska towns. You are welcome to read
own response to this commonly asked question regarding the
Hazard video director was Michael Haussman, who subsequently lent his
talent for other artists, including Madonna
("Take a Bow") and Bonnie Raitt.
was discussion at the time about making "Hazard"
into a feature film, but Haussman was not interested.
He felt that to tell any more of the story risked destroying its
two video versions to create the "whodunit" vibe was rather
revolutionary for its time, as was the inclusion of the dramatic
interrogation scene complete with audio and Mary's different teasers
at the end of the two cuts. There was also an unusual TV campaign for
the project which featured 30-second spots comprised of "exit
interviews" of people who had viewed the video, --much like some
movie ads, expressing their opinions on the song and the murderer.
uncommon aspect of the video was Richard's decision not to include
sequences of him singing the song. This kept the viewer in the story
and made the video a continuous dramatic entity, --more like a
sequence from a feature film than the standard music video. Up
to that time there had been very few videos where the artist did not
sing. A notable exception was Bob Seger's "Like A
Rock," also a Capitol video. Although his previous videos often
featured storylines, Richard generally played a version of himself. In
"Hazard" he delivered a very convincing portrayal of a very
Chapter 3? The clamoring for a third version of the video came from
EMI's international labels, especially in the Far East and Europe,
where the video mystery was perceived as a rural American gothic
murder tale. Several of the territories ran "Who killed
Mary?" promotions and wanted the prospect of a closure mechanism
to extend the life of the project and end it on a high note. Though
the idea was discussed over several weeks, there were several
considerations that ended the prospect. First, footage had only been
shot for the alternative versions. A third version would have meant
reassembling the entire team for at least another day of shooting.
Second, the video budget was already north of $200,000, which for its
day was a healthy expenditure. Capitol Records, who fronted the money
for the video, was not eager to extend the already sizable budget. The
third (and fatal) reason came from Richard himself. In light of
Richard's label releasing rumors (for promotional purposes) about plans of a
third video that would reveal Mary's killer, Richard put a stop to it,
explaining "that since the song never reveals the killer, there would be
no 'Part 3' and that was that."
Richard was yet to
be introduced to the real Hazard, Nebraska while writing the
storyline. "Hazard" was the last word to be added to the
Residents were yet
to be introduced to Richard's song upon its debut in the music charts.
As reported in a local newspaper, suspicions arose when "people started to
stop along the highway to take pictures of the town's population signs,
old creek beds and ditches and other parts of the town."
Hazard received its
name from a dangerous depression near the tracks. Years ago,
trains slowed down considerably as they passed through out of concern for ground
stability. "Hazard" was inscribed on logs to warn
and Richard's mother have been seen together before, --in the
Glory Days (1988) directed by Robert Conrad,
starring Robert and Shane Conrad and Jennifer O'Neill. In
making the movie, Robert likened working with Jennifer as his "Summer
of '88," citing that "she was a real pro to work
As some have noted
on maps, the Bloody Run River lies just east of Hazard. Though a
sizable gulch 80 years ago, it is now a dry creek bed. Its official
name stems from an account where two housewives commenced to settle an
argument using butcher knives.
In early 1992, a
Hazard farmer received a call from radio station KZ93 in Peoria, Illinois informing him that he was on the air "live." The DJ
asked him to describe the village to their listeners. In turn, the
farmer mailed some Hazard memorabilia items to the station.
management sent t-shirts and tapes to our local paper that were handed
out to residents during the Hazard Daze celebration in August of '92.
The town of Hazard,
Kentucky not only has the same number of syllables, but, we admit,
better resembles the Hazard found in the video. This includes the
North Fork of the KY River that runs through it. (see also WSGS
visited the town of Hazard during his 1992 tour. You can read the
article of his visit that comes from the archives of The
While best known for
being the home of Mary's suspicious death, there
are, ironically, no recorded murders or suspicious deaths in Haz's 115 year history.
"Was the song
inspired by a true story?" is the most common question we are
Hazard was harsh to
its early settlers. The early
1900s saw a great fire that destroyed businesses on the eastside of
downtown (including a hotel, general stores, and an opera house) only
to be followed by another fire that destroyed businesses on the west
end. "The great depression" saw the failing of both banks,
followed by an extensive period of drought to its farmers.
The difference in travel time in driving from Hazard to Los Angeles and Hazard to New
York City is only 11 minutes. (Source: MS Expedia)
*Information courtesy of Mick Kleber, best noted from his
successful tenure as Vice President of Video and Media for Capitol Records
from 1982 to 1993, and was the executive in charge for a variety of Richard's
music videos, including the Hazard video project. Fans may recognize
Mick as the "cheesy record exec" in the video "Don't Mean
Nothing," and to this day, is highly regarded by Richard.
At present, Mick is Senior Vice President & content producer
for Spotlight Health.