Richard Shannon Hoon (September 26, 1967 – October 21, 1995)
Hoon reportedly began using his middle name to avoid confusion with his father, who was also named Richard. In high school, Hoon was a stand-out athlete in football, wrestling, and pole vaulting. In addition to his reputation as an athlete, Hoon gained some local notoriety following several arrests by the Lafayette police. Hoon graduated from McCutcheon High School in 1985. After graduation, Hoon joined a local band named Styff Kytten, which also featured guitarist Michael Kelsey. Hoon took on the role of frontman and lead singer for the band. It was around this time that Hoon wrote his first song, Change.
In his hometown Lafayette, Hoon befriended his sister Anna's high school friend Axl Rose. Later he left Indiana for Los Angeles in hopes of making it in the music industry. After arriving in LA, Hoon met musicians Brad Smith, and Rogers Stevens at a party. Smith and Stevens saw Hoon perform his song Change acoustically and invited Hoon to play with them. Christopher Thorn and Glen Graham were then brought into the fold and soon the five musicians decided to form Blind Melon. In 1991, Blind Melon produced a four song demo and subsequently signed a $500,000 recording contract with Capitol Records.
In L.A., Axl Rose invited Hoon to join him in the studio, where his band Guns N' Roses were recording their albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. Hoon sang back-up vocals on several tracks, including Don't Cry. Rose also invited Hoon to appear in the video for Don't Cry, giving Hoon his first real taste of publicity.
In 1992, Blind Melon released their self-titled debut album. The album, produced by Pearl Jam's Rick Parashar, garnered some positive reviews, but initially failed to make much of an impact. Blind Melon began touring to promote the album, supporting acts like Ozzy Osbourne, Neil Young, Guns N' Roses, and Soundgarden over the course of 1992-1993. As their success increased, the members of Blind Melon became increasingly involved in drug use during the tour, with Hoon being the primary offender. In 1993, when the album track No Rain was released as a single, Blind Melon suddenly became huge stars. The quirky video for No Rain featured a young, overweight girl in a bee costume (often referred to as the 'Bee Girl'). The video was wildly popular and was the driving force behind Blind Melon going multi-platinum.
Hoon and Blind Melon spent the next two years touring. The tours were frequently interrupted as Hoon spent time in rehab or jail as his already serious drug use increased and his behavior became more bizarre. In 1993, Hoon was arrested for indecent exposure after he stripped naked onstage and urinated on a fan at a show in Vancouver. In 1994, Blind Melon appeared at Woodstock 2. Hoon went onstage wearing his girlfriend's dress and was clearly intoxicated. Throughout the performance, Hoon baited the audience and ended the set by tossing a set of conga drums into the crowd. Also in 1994, Hoon went on a drug-induced rampage at the Billboard Music Awards when he attacked a security guard.
After taking a hiatus from touring, Blind Melon returned to the studio to record the album Soup in New Orleans. Although producer Andy Wallace claimed that drugs were not a problem during the recording of Soup, Hoon reportedly had no recollection of the album sessions. Soup was released in 1995, a darker album considerably different from their eponymous debut. Critics gave it harsh reviews and the album received a lukewarm reception.
Final year and death:
In 1995, Hoon and his long time girlfriend Lisa Crouse had a daughter they named Nico Blue. After the birth of his daughter, Hoon entered rehab again. Blind Melon needed to tour to support their album Soup with heavy pressure from the record company, so Hoon negotiated an early release from his drug rehab program with the stipulation that his drug counselor would accompany him on the road. The counselor, however, was unable to keep Hoon from falling back into his pattern of drug use and was dismissed from the tour less than a month into it. Without the counselor to rein him in, Hoon's usage of drugs escalated tremendously.
After a particularly disastrous performance in Houston, Hoon launched into an all-night coke binge, hurling blame all over the place. The next day, on October 21, 1995, Blind Melon was scheduled to play a show in New Orleans at the famed venue, Tipitina's. When one of the band's roadies went to the tour bus to wake Hoon up for a sound check, he was unable to rouse him. An ambulance was summoned and Hoon was pronounced dead on the scene at the age of 28. The cause of death was attributed to an intense accidental cocaine overdose.
Hoon was buried in Dayton, Indiana; his grave is inscribed with the words to 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"
On November 12, 1996, Blind Melon released their final album Nico as a tribute to Hoon with all proceeds going to his daughter and to programs helping musicians deal with drug problems. The band also released a video called Letters From A Porcupine that was nominated for 'Best Long Form Music Video' at the Grammy Awards on February 25, 1998.
In September 2008, New York based music journalist Greg Prato released a book titled ‘A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon’.
The book is available exclusively as a print-per-order via www.lulu.com. It contains never-before-seen photos and was put together from more than 50 exclusive interviews from surviving band members, members of bands they toured with, producers, friends and family members.
The title comes from a phrase that guitarist Rogers Stevens once used to describe Shannon Hoon.
The book has sparked an interest in remaining music and countless hours of amateur video Hoon had taken through-out his career. According to the book some of videos may be released at the band's discretion.
In December 2008 Shannon's Mother, Nel (who is suffering from cancer) released an unnamed collection of solo and (at the time) unfinished Shannon Hoon songs. Some of which later became Blind Melon songs featured in the band's sophomore album and the band's post-humorously released album Nico.
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