20 Years Later: Remembering Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon October 21, 2015 15:05
Today, we remember one of our all-time favorites, Shannon Hoon. Hoon was an American singer-songwriter and musician best known as the frontman of Blind Melon. Hoon was born on September 26th, 1967 in Lafayette, Indiana. His most notable musical influences included the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon. Shortly after graduating high school in 1985, Hoon served as frontman in his first band, Styff Kytten. It was at this time that Hoon wrote his first song, "Change," later recorded on Blind Melon's self-titled debut album.
Blind Melon was formed in 1990, when Hoon made the jump from Indiana to Los Angeles, after meeting musicians Brad Smith and Roger Stevens at a party. His future band mates saw him performing "Change" acoustically and invited him to play with them. Soon after, Glen Graham and Christopher Thorn were brought into the mix, and the 5-piece known as Blind Melon was born.
The band debuted with a four-song demo, The Goodfoot Workshop, in 1991. Blind Melon was signed by Capitol Records later that year and oversaw sessions for an unreleased EP to be titled The Sippin' Time Sessions. The recordings were left unreleased due to the band's dissatisfaction with the production quality, which they felt resulted in "slick and doctored" results. Hoon's friendship and association with Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose accrued additional industry attention for the group, as he provided backing vocals on several Guns N' Roses tracks on 1991's Use Your Illusion I and II albums, including the single "Don't Cry". Blind Melon embarked upon a tour supporting Soundgarden late that year.
At Capitol's suggestion, the band relocated to Durham, North Carolina while beginning work on what would become their self-titled debut album with producer Rick Parashar, known for producing Pearl Jam's Ten. Sessions were held in London Bridge Studio in Seattle, Washington, and the album was recorded mostly live. The record was released in September 1992, and initially sold poorly behind its lead singles, "Tones of Home" and "No Rain", until the latter became an MTV staple the following July. Promoted by a successful music video, "No Rain" helped the band achieve international recognition. The album eventually attained quadruple-platinum status, debuting in the Billboard top 40 on October 9, 1993 and peaking at No. 11 on the Hot 100.
In 1993, the band began touring extensively in support of their debut. They performed multiple dates in Europe and Mexico, supporting the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Neil Young. Tour dates increased in 1994, including a performance at Woodstock and an opening spot on the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge Tour. At this time, the band began experiencing personal and legal issues related to drug and alcohol abuse, leading to multiple stints in rehab for Hoon.
Later in 1994, the band relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana to begin work on their second studio album, Soup. They would take a different approach with this recording, aiming towards shorter tracks with a less conventional alternative rock approach. Even with the album's lead single "Galaxie" debut at No. 25 on the Billboard charts, Soup did not meet sales expectations.
Against the advice of Hoon's drug counselor, Blind Melon hit the road for a tour in support of Soup. The band initially employed a counselor to assist Hoon's rehabilitation, but this attendant was soon dismissed. After a disappointing performance in Houston, Blind Melon was scheduled to play a show in New Orleans at Tipitina's. The band's sound engineer, Lyle Eaves, went to the tour bus to wake up Hoon for a sound check but was unable to wake him. Hoon was pronounced dead on the scene, at the age of 28, on October 21st, 1995. The cause of death was attributed to a cocaine overdose.
Watch Blind Melon's Entire Performance at Woodstock '94