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Members include drummer Glen Graham (born December 5, circa 1967), singer/songwriter Shannon Hoon (born September 26, 1967, in Lafayette, IN, died October 20, 1995; son of Richard, a construction worker, and Nel Hoon; daughter with Lisa Crouse, named Nico Blue Hoon, who was one year old when he died), bassist Brad Smith (born September 29, circa 1967), guitarist Roger Stevens (born October 31, circa 1967), and guitarist Christopher Thorn (born December 16, circa 1967). Addresses: Record Company--Capitol Records, Inc, 1750 Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028 (213) 462-6252. Band Address--703 Pier Avenue, #B806, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
Blind Melon rocketed to stardom in the realm of alternative rock with their self-titled debut album in 1992, which sold more than 3 million copies and reached triple platinum status. Before the untimely death of the group's leader and singer/songwriter Shannon Hoon in October of 1995--and the ensuing demise of the band--Blind Melon consisted of Hoon, bassist Brad Smith, guitarist Rogers Stevens, drummer Glen Graham, and guitarist Christopher Thorn. Blind Melon was a promising, talented new band, appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, MTV, Canada's MuchMusic, and in Woodstock '94. The band also performed in concert across the globe with megastars such as The Rolling Stones, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Lenny Kravitz, and Neil Young. When Hood died from a tragic drug overdose in 1995, the band was clearly in the midst of perfecting and defining their unique sound, as well as claiming their fame in the realm of alternative rock .
Richard Shannon Hoon was born on September 26, 1967, in Lafayette, Indiana, the son of Richard, a construction worker, and Nel Hoon. Shannon was hyperactive as a child, but his parents did not want to "put him on drugs," so they enrolled him in karate classes at the age of six. By the time he was nine years old, Hoon had earned a black belt. In 1990, at the age of 23, Hoon met Stevens in Los Angeles after taking a bus from Lafayette to California. Stevens and bassist Smith had moved to L.A. in 1989 from West Point, Mississippi, where they worked on the kill floor of a slaughterhouse, beheading, deshouldering, and gutting as many as 6,000 hogs a day. Stevens met Hoon through a mutual friend; Hoon played a couple of tunes for him, and Stevens was impressed with his voice. They decided, on the spot, to form a band together.
The group's debut album was buoyed by the successful single "No Rain" and its accompanying video, which featured a girl in a bee costume and the band members frolicking in a field. The image that the single and video portrayed was that of upbeat, Grateful Dead- inspired alternative rock, yet the lyrics to "No Rain" revealed a deceptive morbidity with lines like "I don't understand why I sleep all day/and I start to complain that there's no rain." It was this sort of ironic twist that underscored the band's music and, in fact, the band's path to acclaim. In sharp reversal to Blind Melon's debut album, the band's second release in 1995, Soup, was not hailed as a commercial success at all, and Hoon himself was a classic study in contrasts. Chris Heath wrote in Details magazine, "He was crazy and rude, and yet also unbearably sweet ... There was an incredible spirit about him, wanton and careless, but also somehow innocent and invigorating."
After Soup was recorded in New Orleans and released in the summer of 1995, the band began touring to support the album. The night before October 20, Blind Melon played in Houston and according to Heath, they played poorly and Hoon was distraught over the general course of his career. Soup was not receiving much airplay, and reviewers were panning their live performance, although the band had been consistently filling stadiums while on tour. Soup was meant to be an eclectic mix of varied musical styles. Stevens told the Indianapolis Star's Marc Allan, "I was, frankly, stunned when the reviews came out and said it was the worst record ever. I knew it wasn't that bad."
Hoon was snorting large amounts of cocaine while on tour in Houston, fell asleep on a bunk in the tour bus, and died of an overdose by the time the band reached New Orleans. Dawn Marecki wrote in the William Patterson College Beacon, "Shannon's death placed the band in a difficult position, never fully reaching their potential. It ... leaves band members wondering, despite themselves, 'What if?'"
Band members dealt with Shannon's death by supporting each other, working through their initial anger and grief together, and deciding to release a tribute album in Hoon's memory, an album that would include most of the band's unreleased material, outtakes, rarities, interviews, and previously unreleased photos. Band members decided to call the final album Nico, after Hoon and Lisa Crouse's baby daughter, Nico Blue Hoon, who was only 13 weeks old when he died. The enhanced Nico CD also featured concert footage and several full-length videos. The band decided to donate a portion of the proceeds of Nico to MAP (Musician's Assistance Program), an organization which helps musicians and others in the music industry recover from drug and alcohol addiction. Along with Nico, the band released a documentary home video entitled Letters From A Porcupine, which offers an overview of the band's personal and musical progression, as well as footage from numerous club performances, recording sessions, and road trips.
Don Aquilante of the New York Post wrote, "What makes the last chapter in the songbook of Blind Melon so sad is that today's release, Nico, is so good that you want more, but there isn't any more there." Nico included the Steppenwolf cover "The Pusher," the ironically titled "Life Ain't So Shitty," and the eerily truncated "Letters from a Porcupine." The latter was a song that Hoon wrote and wanted to share, so he called Chris Thorn and played the song into his answering machine. Paralleling the end of Blind Melon, Hoon was cut off by the machine in mid-song as he sang his heart out; the song from the answering machine tape was included in Nico.
After Hoon's death, the band decided they still wanted to play together, as Stevens claimed that a bond had formed among the remaining four members. They intend to reform with a new singer and a new name and have received over 2,000 demo tapes from musicians hoping to fill the tremendous vacuum Hoon left behind.
by B. Kimberly Taylor
Blind Melon's Career
Released Blind Melon, 1992, which sold more than 3 million copies and reached triple platinum status; released Soup, 1995, released Nico, 1996; appeared at Woodstock '94, performed with The Rolling Stones, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Lenny Kravitz, and Neil Young; lead singer Hoon died from an accidental drug overdose, 1995; remaining band members decided to release Nico and a documentary home video entitled Letters From A Porcupine and then regroup under a different name.
- Selective Works
- Blind Melon, Capitol Records, 1992.
- Soup, Capitol Records, 1995.
- Nico, Capitol Records, 1996.
- Details, July 1996.
- E! Online, November 12, 1996.
- The Indianapolis Star, November 12, 1996.
- MTV Online, November 15, 1996.
- New York Post, November 12, 1996.
- William Patterson College Beacon, November 18, 1996.
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