Shannon Hoon

From Academic Kids

Richard Shannon Hoon (September 26, 1967October 21, 1995) was the lead singer of the band Blind Melon.

Born in Lafayette, Indiana, he was always a hyperactive kid. Instead of being placed on Ritalin, out of his mother's fear that it would lead drug use, Shannon was enrolled into Karate classes at age 6 and became a black-belt at age 9. At his father's urging, Hoon became a stand-out athlete in football, wrestling, and track. Hoon himself shared little enthusiasm for athletics and later expressed regret for doing what he felt his parents wanted him to do. "By the time I was 17, I freaked out because i didn't have an identity of my own," Hoon told Rolling Stone in 1993. "I realized I'd wasted years trying to be what my parents wanted me to be."

After graduating high school, Hoon moved into music and became the front-man of a local cover band called "Styff Kytten" in 1988. In an article, the band's manager said about Shannon, "Shannon's got that desire. He's got the persona of a frontman. You never want to take your eyes off him because you never know what he's gonna do." At the same time however, Shannon began to develop a rap sheet for various crimes, mainly vandalism.

In March 1990, after several run-in's with the police and feeling stiffled by Lafayette, Shannon moved to Los Angeles in hopes of following the same path fellow Lafayette native, Axl Rose. It was in LA that Hoon met and formed Blind Melon with Glen Graham, Brad Smith, Rogers Stevens, and Christopher Thorn, all of whom shared a dislike of the LA glam metal scene. While recording "Sipping Time Sessions", an overproduced album that was quickly aborted by the band, Hoon met with Rose and after hearing him sing "Don't Cry" invited him to sing on the album and video of "Don't Cry".

Hoon's big moment came in 1992 with the release of their self-titled debut album (produced by Pearl Jam's Rick Parashar) or to be more precise, the release of the single and video of "No Rain." With images of Hoon and the Bee Girl imprinted on viewer's minds, Blind Melon ended up going multi-platinum. Although "No Rain" was an upbeat tune, most of the songs were considerably dark and introspective looks into Shannon Hoon's talented yet troubled mind.

While touring for the album, Shannon's drug use escalated and his behavior grew stranger. In Vancouver, he was arrested after urinating on the audience. On the day Kurt Cobain killed himself, Blind Melon performed on the Late Show with Hoon painting a question mark on his head. At Woodstock '94, possibly Blind Melon's defining moment, Hoon, who was clearly intoxicated, came out with his hair braided and in a dress, like a transgendered Janis Joplin. In between his plaintative wails Hoon baited the audience repeatedly and in the end, threw some bongo drums into the crowd.

After a brief hiatus from touring, the band got together with Andy Wallace in New Orleans to make their second album, Soup. Although Wallace would later tell reporters that drugs were never a problem, Hoon would report having no memory of the sessions. At the American Music Awards in 1994, Hoon attacked a security guard, capping off a crime streak late that year that included fighting with an off-duty police officer and indecent exposure. Although Hoon avoided jail time for his attack on the security guard, he had to check into rehab.


There was hope for Shannon, the birth of his daughter, Nico Blue would lead Hoon to clean up his ways, as told in "New Life", he and his girlfriend, Lisa Crouse, made plans to live in Lafayette permanently and an ultimatum by Krause further led Hoon to take his rehab seriously. His rehab experiences are recounted in "2x4". However, the band needed to tour to support Soup, which had gotten poor reviews. His drug councelor recommended against release, feeling that Hoon was not ready for the temptations of the road. Hoon was eager to tour though and an agreement was reached where they would have a drug councelor monitor Shannon. That was a collasal failure and Hoon started smoking right in front of the councelor leading to the councelor's departure less than a month into the tour and Hoon reverted to his dangerous ways.

On the night of October 20, 1995 After a disasterous performance in Houston, Shannon began an all-night coke binge and was out of control, ranting and casting blame everywhere for the struggles of the band. After arriving in New Orleans early in the morning of October 21, Shannon first called his girlfriend, managing to cover up his condition over the phone, then went over to an LA Smoothie where downed smoothies while dialing a 1-900 psychic hotline on his cell phone. Hoon then returned to the tour bus, took off everything except his shorts and got into a bunk and slept. Hours later, when the crew saw Shannon's feet in the bunk, they tried to rouse him and when their efforts failed, an ambulance was summoned. Shannon was pronounced dead of an accidental cocaine overdose.

Shannon was taken back to Lafayette where he was buried in his favorite t-shirt that said "Amsterdam" and at his sister's suggestion, bare feet as Shannon would go with out shoes as often as he could. On his grave stone, they carved the words of one of Hoon's best songs, "Change"

"I know we all can't stay here forever So I want to write My words on the face of today And then they'll paint it."

Every year, a crowd of Blind Melon faithful gather at Shannon's grave and leave little mementos and artifacts behind.

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