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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick