OBITUARY : Shannon Hoon

The rock band Blind Melon's last show in Britain was at the Mean Fiddler club in London on 8 September. Shannon Hoon, the lead singer, appeared on stage wearing a false moustache and glasses, and a red, flashing clown's nose. He looked like a man with an insatiable lust for life. It is the image by which he will be best remembered.

Hoon was born in Lafayette, Indiana in 1967. Lafayette was, he said, "a small, repressed community. You're able to live your whole life there and really be quite comfortable, but I wanted to see more." He initially took out his frustrations on the sports field in high school, but turned towards music. When he was 18, he packed a small car full of his belongings and drove cross-country to Los Angeles, ostensibly to broaden his horizons, but also with the notion of finding and joining a rock band at the back of his mind.

When Hoon arrived on the West Coast, he had nowhere to live and nothing to do. To begin with, he spent his time people-watching. "I'd try to be invisible and zoom in on people and eavesdrop on their conversations," he recalled.

The first people Hoon actually met in California were also small-town exiles - Roger Stevens, Christopher Thorn, Brad Smith and Glen Graham. Together, they formed Blind Melon in 1990, taking their inspiration from America's leading musical outlaws of the Sixties, the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers, and adding a spiky edge that recalled the hugely influential alternative band Jane's Addiction.

The quintet were signed to Capitol Records, and made their first record in Seattle. Hoon also accepted an offer from his childhood friend the Guns 'N' Roses frontman Axl Rose, to sing backing vocals on their single "Don't Cry", and appear in the subsequent video.

By the end of 1993, Blind Melon were MTV stars in their own right. Their debut album, Blind Melon, had sold more than 2 million copies in the United States, propelled by the jaunty "No Rain" video, which featured the "Bee Girl", who appeared on their album sleeves and with whom the band were to become synonymous.

Their success kept them on tour for two years, which pushed the increasingly fragile Hoon to breaking point. A genuinely likeable and approachable human being, he was acutely aware of the many absurdities of the music business, and became progressively more uncomfortable when he was confronted with them.

When the band finally came off the road, after cancelling a handful of European shows, the "wheels had come off the vehicle", as Hoon later put it. The singer, who had publicly acknowledged his drug problems, went through at least two rehabilitation programmes.

But when Blind Melon re-emerged earlier this year, after making their second album, Soup, in New Orleans, Hoon sounded happy about the present, and optimistic for the future. He was proud of the record and elated at the news that he was to become a father. It had, he said, given his life a whole new meaning.

Soup had been less well received than its predecessor. Its dark, initially impenetrable songs couldn't have been further out of synch with the current fashion for re-packaged and instantly digestible punk rock. Lyrically, too, it was a moving, often claustrophobic vision of personal breakdown and dysfunctional family life, rather than a series of teen angst sound bites.

Hoon's girlfriend, Lisa Crouse, gave birth to a daughter, Nico Blue, in May. Shannon moved his new family back to Lafayette, before reluctantly having to leave them to go on tour once more. He died last Saturday in New Orleans, of a suspected drug overdose.

Paul Rees

Richard Shannon Hoon, singer: born Lafayette, Indiana 26 September 1967; died New Orleans 21 October 1995.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines