Who was Shannon Hoon?
Shannon Hoon was a musician, singer, and song writer who was the lead singer and face of ‘Blind Melon’, an American rock band who saw success in the alternative rock genre. Born into a middle-class family, Shannon was an energetic and athletic child who was fond of playing different types of sports. Also having a keen ear for music, he grew-up listening to the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead. Constantly working on improving his craft and fuelled by this creative zeal, he penned his first song at the age of eighteen. Despite his troubled early life, he had big plans, that ended abruptly with his sudden demise. This happened when he had just become a father at the time, keen on turning a new leaf in his personal and professional career. Infamous for his erratic behaviour, multiple arrests, and drug problem from a very young age, Shannon Hoon is remembered fondly by his band mates and numerous fans alike as an extremely talented musician blessed with a uniquely raspy voice and an amazing vocal range.
Childhood & Early Life
Shannon Hoon was born as Richard Shannon Hoon on 26 September 1967, in Lafayette, Indiana, to Richard, a construction worker and his wife Nel Hoon. He later gave-up his first name to avoid any mix-ups with his father.
He had two half-siblings, a sister named Anna and a brother named Tim who he grew up with, in Dayton.
Being a hyperactive kid, he played football, participated in pole vaulting and wrestling during his time at McCutcheon High School. He also learnt karate and had earned a black belt by the age of nine.
After graduating in 1985, he joined the band ‘Styff Kytten’ as its lead singer and penned down his first track called ‘Change’.
He also sang for ‘Mank Rage’, a Lafayette band, along with Darren Mickler and David Lank.
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In 1985, Shannon Hoon moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music career, in the footsteps of his friend, Guns N’ Roses star, Axl Rose, who was also from Lafayette and was a high school friend of Shannon’s sister Anna.
While in LA, he met Rogers Stevens (lead guitarist), Glen Graham (drummer), Brad Smith (bassist), and Christopher Thorn (rhythm guitarist) and agreed to join them as the lead vocalist and they called their band ‘Blind Melon’.
With the help of Rose, Shannon sang backup vocals for Guns N’ Roses’ songs ‘The Garden’ and ‘Don’t Cry’. He even featured in the ‘Don’t Cry’ video. In 1990, the new band produced a four-song demo tape that caught the eye of Capitol Records who signed a $500,000 contract with Blind Melon.
Produced by Rick Parashar, Blind Melon’s first self-titled album was released in 1992, and immediately after the band toured the country promoting their album, doing opening songs and supporting acts in concerts for bands like Soundgarden, Guns N’ Roses and Ozzy Osbourne.
In 1993 they released a video for their single ‘No Rain’which featured the ‘Bee Girl’ (or Heather DeLoach) and was directed by Samuel Bayer. This video became very popular on MTV and was an instant hit on pop radio. It helped propel the popularity and the sales for the Blind Melon album.
While still touring North America, Shannon was arrested in Vancouver for indecent exposure for stripping onstage and peeing on an audience member at the concert. Later that year, the band posed naked for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, wherein Shannon was in front and centre with braided pigtails.
In August 1994, Blind Melon performed at Woodstock II, where Shannon wore his girlfriend’s white dress and performed on stage, while he was supposedly on LSD.
The band did not tour for a year until the release of their second album ‘Soup’, in 1995. The album was not well received, with only one track ‘Galaxie’ making it into the top ten list of Billboard modern rock chart.
In order to push sales for the album, Blind Melon went on a tour and performed at the Murat Temple and the Egyptian Room in Indianapolis, before Shannon overdosed and was found dead on the tour bus.
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(After his death, Blind Melon released their album ‘Nico’ as a tribute to him that featured his last works along with the other band members. The band dedicated proceeds from the album sales to Shannon’s daughter Nico.
They also released ‘Letters from a Porcupine’, a home-video documentary that included personal recordings and footage of the band’s performances, sessions, their musical journey and progress.
His band, Blind Melon rose to fame in 1993 with their single ‘No Rain’ from their eponymous album ‘Blind Melon’. The song peaked at no. 20 on the billboard hot 100 list and at no. 4 on the billboard mainstream top 40 in November 1993. The album sold more than four-million copies and became a huge hit in the U.S. earning them a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance and Best New Artist.
Family & Personal Life
Shannon Hoon had a long-time girlfriend Lisa Crouse who had been with him for over ten years. High-school sweethearts, they started dating in 1985.
The couple lived together in Lafayette and had a daughter called Nico Blue who was born on 11th July 1995.
Due to his recurring drug problem, he was in and out of rehab a couple of times. The last time was right before his daughter was born, as he sought to take hold of his life and be a good father.
While on tour for his album ‘Soup’, Shannon relapsed and went on a drug binge on 20th of October 1995, in New Orleans. This was right after his show in Houston that didn’t go well, which led to his sudden untimely death.
On 21 October 1995, his band member (sound engineer) Lyle Eaves, found him unresponsive in the tour bus, and he was declared dead, with the reason cited as heart attack from cocaine overdose.
Shannon Hoon was buried in the cemetery at Dayton, Indiana; his gravestone bears the words from his first song ‘Change’.
Shannon Hoon filmed himself for almost five years, from 1990 to 1995. These tapes were later used to make a documentary ‘All I Can Say’ which was released at the Tribeca Film Festival 2019.