Blind Melon was one of the foundation sounds of the alternative rock sound from between 1992 and 1995 with the death of its founding member and lead vocalist, Shannon Hoon.
Shannon Hoon was born on September 26, 1967 in Lafayette, Indiana. In high school he was a standout athlete in football, wrestling, and track, although he also developed a reputation for misbehavior and was arrested several times. At this time his interest in music began to develop. In February 1988, Hoon officially embarked upon his musical career fronting a band called Styff Kytten, a cover band based in Lafayette. In a feature story about the band in a local newspaper called the Journal and Courier, the band’s manager was quoted as saying, “Shannon’s got that desire. He’s got the persona of a frontman. You never want to take your eyes off him because you never know what he’s gonna do.”
After more run-ins with the police and inspired by the course of fellow Lafayette native Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses, Hoon left his hometown behind for Los Angeles in 1989. There he quickly formed a group with three other musicians, all of whom had migrated to L.A. from other parts of the country. Together, after a series of name changes, the four men became known as Blind Melon.
The band began to gain traction due to Hoon’s association with Axl Rose — Hoon did backup vocals on several Guns N’ Roses tracks, most notably “Don’t Cry”.
Fame was not good to Shannon, he got deeper involved in drugs and was in and out of rehab. It is effecting his music and performances. Upon the release of their album, Soup, the record company was putting a lot of pressure on the band to go out on tour. Hannon was in rehab at the time, and the record company paid to have Hannon released from rehab on the condition that a full-time counselor would tour with the band to keep him in recovery. A month into the tour, the counselor was fired.
From then on it went from bad to worse.
In late September, 1995, Shannon Hoon stands before the crowd that has gathered in the Egyptian Room at the Murat Temple in Indianapolis, IN. The Blind Melon frontman holds his 6-week-old daughter, Nico Blue, in his arms.
“Tonight’s my daughter’s first rock ‘n’ roll event,” Hoon announces to his fans.
Less than a month later, on October 11, 1995, Hoon is found dead on his band’s tour bus before a show in New Orleans. A long struggle with drug addiction has culminated in an accidental overdose. His daughter, just over 3 months old, will be left to know her father solely through his music.
The following was Blind Mellon performing on the Dave Letterman show in April 1994. The song is Change, the first song Hannon ever wrote. Even by the time of the Letterman perfomance, Hannon was making some dark references to his life, and comparing it to that of Kurt Cobain, (who he wrote the song for) in the sense that he had changed a couple of key phrases in his lyrics. He made references to how cold he was feeling inside, and the idea that nobody couldn’t live the way he had been living.
I don’t feel the suns comin’ out today
its staying in, its gonna find another way.
As I sit here in this misery, I don’t
think I’ll ever see the sun from here.
And oh as I fade away,
they’ll all look at me and say, and they’ll say,
Hey look at him! I’ll never live that way.
But that’s okay
they’re just afraid to change.
When you feel your life ain’t worth living
you’ve got to stand up and
take a look around you then a look way up to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken,
keep on dreaming boy, cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.
And as we all play parts of tomorrow,
some ways will work and other ways we’ll play.
But I know we all can’t stay here forever,
so I want to write my words on the face of today.
and then they’ll paint it
And oh as I fade away,
they’ll all look at me and they’ll say,
Hey look at him and where he is these days.
When life is hard, you have to change.
Shannon Hoon’s gravestone is inscribed with the following words from the first song he wrote, Change:
“I know we can’t all stay here forever
So I want to write my words on the face of today
And they’ll paint it”
- Audio from the 1992 album, Blind Melon: