Do you remember the band Blind Melon? They were awesome. They derived their name from lead singer Shannon Hoon’s father. BM was his expression for what he considered to be the trouble-making “stoners” that lived on their street. Hoon came form same home town as Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses in Lafayette,Indiana, although the two didn’t know one another until after Hoon and his band were formed in Los Angeles. In fact, Rose was Hoon’s half-sister Anna’s high school friend. Did you follow that? You have to wonder if Hoon’s father was referring to Rose with the “blind melon” comment. Blind Melon got their first public exposure when Hoon sang back-up vocals on G N’R’s single “Don’t Cry.” Rose pushed their cause forward and helped open doors for them.
Young, good-looking men with incredible talent, they seemed to have everything to live for. They’re probably best known for their hit single, “No Rain“, complete with the odd video I have embedded. Still the song rocked out and it earned Blind Melon legions of fans. The band itself lasted for five years from 1990 – 1995, when it ended with Hoon’s fatal drug overdose. Ironically, years before Hoon had been obsessed with Kurt Cobain’s suicide (Nirvana) and that he left behind a beautiful baby girl. Hoon became despondent, since he saw himself reflected in Cobain’s addiction and death.
Have you ever really listened to the lyrics to No Rain? In retrospect, I find them very telling about Hoon’s imminent suicide at 28 and his struggle with drug addiction while he lived:
I don’t understand why I sleep all day
and I start to complain
that there’s no rain
and all I can do is read a book to stay awake
and enrich my life away
but it’s a great escape
escape escape escape….
You don’t like my point of view
and it’s insane
insane insane insane
It would seem to me that No Rain is one long suicide note.
Against the advice of Hoon’s drug counselor, Blind Melon went on tour in support of the CD Soup. Soup was a bomb on the charts, selling only 500,000 copies. The band employed a counselor to assist Hoon’s rehabilitation while on the road, but this attendant was soon dismissed when results weren’t forthcoming. Hey, these things take time and attempting to rehabilitate during a concert tour simply wasn’t the most pragmatic idea. After weeks on the road, Hoon was found dead on the band’s tour bus of a heart attack caused by a cocaine overdose, on October 21, 1995 in New Orleans. (New Orleans is sinking man and I don’t wanna swim – the Tragically Hip’s 2 cents worth)
He was discovered by the group’s sound engineer. “A member of the sound crew (Owen Orzack)tried to wake him up, and found him unresponsive, and called for help,” said police spokesman,Lieutenant Marlon Defillo. “He was pronounced
dead on the scene at 1:30 PM.” “They’re in shock,” said John Stevens,guitarist Roger Steven’s father.“They were saying he brought so much energy to the band. It’s funny he could be a wonderful person one minute and a tortured artist the next.” Part of that torture were the symptoms of withdrawal and probably guilt over his addiction; his girlfriend of 10 years, Lisa Crouse, had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl, Nico Blue. He stated “I need to start caring about myself if I’m going to be a proper father.”
Hoon has a history of trouble with the law and with drugs. In 1993, Hoon was charged with nudity and indecent exposure after removing his clothes and urinating on-stage during a concert in Vancouver. Nasty. Hoon’s mother told Rolling Stone in 1993, that she was carrying four bail bonds with his name on them. “When he got into drugs I just gave up hope,” she said. “He just turned 26 and there were times I didn’t think he’d live that long.” Hoon was arrested for allegedly assaulting a guard during the taping of the American Music Awards in 1994. He was also arrested last year during the recording of Soup for being drunken and disorderly. During Hoon’s final tour, after a disappointing performance in Houston, Hoon began an all-night drug binge.
Inscribed on his grave are lines from the first song he ever wrote, entitled, ironically “Change”:
|I know we can’t all stay here foreverSo I want to write my words on the face of today and they’ll paint it|
A biography about Blind Melon, entitled A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other, focusing on Hoon’s suicide, was written and published by Greg Prato in 2008. It examines influences on him that many people speculate may have led to his drug addiction, including his childhood. Prato states that Hoon enjoyed a good childhood and was “spoiled rotten from day one.” Is that a good childhood? Indulging a child to extremes often results in an adult who is given to excess and has little self-discipline, as embodied in Hoon’s drug addiction and suicide. Many addicts insist they had a good childhood, when really, looking closer there are many dysfunctional factors that lead directly to the addiction. Hoon’s own comment was “I was raised in an environment where if you were far left in any manner, you were pretty much condemned. I go back home now and look at pictures…I can see the denial in my eyes in those pictures, man.” That is far from an idyllic childhood to me. His half-brother, Ned Hoon, commented, “if there was trouble somewhere in town, you could bet Shannon was involved.” Hoon’s blessed childhood becomes less and less so as the book continues.
Do I blame Hoon’s parents for his drug addiction and suicide? Not really. They once contributed to the problem when their son was a child and a teenager but once he left home and became successful, it was time for Hoon to get his life under control. There was a time when he was a rebel without a cause. Now he had an outlet for his rebellion but he abused it. His family clearly loved and supported him but like all families, they were far from perfect. It’s true that most drug addicts have trauma underlying their childhoods, whether it stems from abuse, neglect, divorce, or something else. However, not all people who struggle with these issues become addicted to cocaine. Get over it, Hoon.
After Hoon himself became a father it was truly time for him to grow up. It wasn’t about him anymore. Now it was about Nica, and he acknowledged this fact, yet still he was too addicted, too selfish, too whatever to work with the help he needed and learn how to parent his child. He left behind a girlfriend, a baby, and a devastated family. He also left behind a musical legacy and that too is a loss. What other accomplishments might he have made had he lived? We’ll never know. Decades later, at 20, Nico performed Change in public. Musical talent doesn’t run in Hoon’s family.