|From the New York Times' Obituary
page, October 23, 1995:
Shannon Hoon, lead singer of the rock group Blind Melon, died on Saturday in
the band's tour bus in a parking lot in New Orleans. He was 28 and lived in
Lafayette, Ind. The cause was apparently an accidental drug overdose. Blind
Melon achieved rapid success with its self-titled first album. The video for "No
Rain" was so popular that its images of a cavorting girl dressed in a bee
costume threatened to eclipse the band.
In high school, Mr. Hoon developed a reputation for misbehavior. Recently Mr.
Hoon moved back to Lafayette with his girlfriend of 10 years, Lisa Crouse, and a
daughter, Nico Blue, was born to them this summer. In addition to his mother,
daughter and Ms. Crouse, Mr. Hoon is survived by his father, Richard; a sister,
Anna, and a brother, Tim.
Commentary by Chris Heath
That's what life can shrivel into: an overdose, a bee girl, a few leftover
family members. There wasn't much fuss when Shannon Hoon died. He wasn't famous
enough or ironic enough. His body gave out as Blind Melon toured America's
clubs, trying but failing to interest the world in their second album, Soup.
The Monday after his death, a new Blind Melon video, "Toes Across the Floor,"
was serviced to MTV, as previously planned. You might have thought they would
have played it a bit, whatever they thought of the video or the song; it did
show the last public cavortings of a singer whom, two years before, they had
joyously force-fed their audience. They didn't. In fact, the single's tepid
recognition - the embarrassed way it was ignored - acted as a perfect metaphor
for the death with which it coincided. The truth is that Shannon Hoon's death
was treated - was reviewed - exactly as if it were a new Blind Melon single. And
in October 1995 there were few less valuable pop commodities than a new Blind
I'm as swayed by pop culture's violent and callous mood swings as anybody,
and maybe I would have also reacted to his death as an inconvenience and an
irrelevance, if not for a few curious days in 1993 when I went on tour with
Blind Melon. I went somewhat unwillingly - I needed some time at home, and I
didn't consider it a peach of an assignment - but Details wanted to respond
quickly to the band's sudden celebrity. So I went, and something about the
experience stayed with me. Particularly Shannon Hoon. He was crazy and rude, and
yet also unbearably sweet. It seemed as though he couldn't make up his mind
whether to fight me, avoid me, or make me love him.
Then there was the matter of the lighter. It was an Elvis Presley lighter,
slightly worn, bought in Memphis. Shannon would sit on the tour bus, the lighter
in one hand, cradling his bong with the other. Midway through my visit, Elvis
spluttered and stopped. Shannon Hoon and I had developed an odd relationship,
with plenty of jostling. He walked out of two interviews; I soon realized that
the only way to deal with him was not to indulge him but to be equally rude
back. Somewhere along the way, we got on quite well. There was an incredible
spirit around him, wanton and careless, but also somehow innocent and
invigorating. On my last evening, he suddenly passed me his spent lighter,
clearly intending it as some kind of strange act of friendship.
A cautionary tale when
'Behind the Music' hits home
The life and times of Shannon Hoon, the late
lead singer of Blind Melon and a Lafayette native, were built for VH1's Behind
the Music. A charismatic rise to Top 40 fame. An often-troubled backdrop where
private demons were in full view of fans, friends and family. And a wealth of
homemade video that chronicled all the most private bits backstage -- rolls and
rolls of the stuff that must have made producers of the popular rockumentary
profiles absolutely drool.
And there it all was, in Sunday night's unblinking premiere, dedicated to a
mercurial life relegated too soon to the murals of dearly departed rockers on
the exterior walls of JL Compact Discs in West Lafayette. (As fans of the Behind
the Music franchise know, episodes are repeated ad nauseam, so there will be
ample opportunity to catch up.)
Hoon was an unforgettable, and unpredictable, sort, who had a knack for
truth-telling that could be both endearing and branding. He was going to live,
and he let everyone around him know it, sometimes to an extreme fault. He rode
that unbridled character to a national recording contract, the hit song of the
summer of 1994 ("No Rain") and the ultimately stereotypical rock star demise --
death from a drug overdose on the bunk of a tour bus in 1995.
No doubt timed to coincide with today's release of a new DVD retrospective of
Hoon's years with Blind Melon, Behind the Music did its job, right down to the
condescending view of a small-town Lafayette. (Really, it's not VH1's job to
play Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, even if it missed the love quotient
in Hoon's love-hate relationship with his hometown. Hoon was honest that he once
feared Lafayette might swallow him into a blue-collar existence, but he never
shirked roots that drew him back and always seemed to make him more Lafayette
Unintentionally, probably, is the episode's timing as a cautionary tale, one
that comes at the heart of Recovery Month, a month devoted by U.S. Health and
Human Services to understanding addictions and overcoming them. Hoon was
consumed by a habit that he freely videotaped and one that band mates described
as fun at first, as a simple feeding of the beast at the spiraling end. Rehab
couldn't prevent the relapse. Neither could fatherhood. The VH1 interviews and
selections from Hoon's journals stand as stark testimony.
Another casualty of rock excess, critics say. Without question, they're correct.
But the look off-stage at the props and a plot of a star-powered story that was
almost too easy to tell offers a telling glimpse at what must go on behind the
scenes of the addicts in our own midst and the minefields their families step
If for no other reason, it makes this Behind the Music family viewing of the
most painful sort. Hoon, still the truth-teller, probably wouldn't have it any