Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch”series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!
Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon became known in the music industry after singing backup vocals on a number of songs on the Guns ‘N Roses album, Use Your Illusion I. “Don’t Cry” featured Hoon and became a huge hit in 1991.
Shannon Hoon died of a heart attack brought on by a cocaine overdose in 1995. The band was on tour at the time and Hoon was found unconscious on the tour bus after an all night drinking and drug binge. He was buried in Dayton, Indiana; a line from the Blind Melon song “Change” is inscribed on his tombstone.
Blind Melon’s final album Nico was released in 1996. Proceeds from the album went to both the daughter of late singer Shannon Hoon and to programs that help musicians deal with drug abuse.
In 2009, former Blind Melon guitarist Christopher Thorn joined a new band called AWOLNATION. The band quickly gained popularity with hits “Sail” and “Not Your Fault.”
Blind Melon was named after Blind Melon Chitlin, a character from a Cheech & Chong album. Soon after their formation in 1989, the band scored a record deal with Capitol Records worth half a million dollars.
After Hoon died, the remaining members auditioned new singers and were ready to go on without him, but decided to split up instead. The groups they formed were called Extra Virgin and Unified Theory. Brad Smith also formed a solo recording project called Abandon Jalopy. Many their songs are about his childhood in rural Mississippi. Smith was often a driving force, and wrote many of Blind Melon’s songs.
Blind Melon appeared on the following television shows: Beavis and Butthead (video for “Galaxie”), VH1’s Pop Up Video (video for “No Rain”), The David Letterman Show twice (performed “Change” in 1994 and “Galaxie” in 1995), Saturday Night Live (they were on in 1994, performing “No Rain” with the Ripped Away intro and “Paperscratcher”), Jon Stewart Show (performed “Walk”) and hosted MTV’s 120 Minutes in 1995.
The group’s second album, Soup, didn’t do nearly as well as the band’s debut, but it’s one they are proud of. In our interview with Brad Smith, he said: “Shannon, I think, meant every word that he said on the Soup record, and that’s why it’s maybe even more critically acclaimed than our first record. Our first record sold many, many more units than our second record, but the second record had a lot more critical acclaim to it. People recognize it as the truth and pure. And I think that’s the earmark of a great record.”
Early in Blind Melon’s career (while doing showcases for potential record labels and management), Gene Simmons of Kiss expressed interest in taking them on as manager – going as far as having the band visit his house, and inviting Paul Stanley over as a surprise guest. In the book A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon, Blind Melon drummer Glen Graham recalls:
“And then Paul Stanley came in, and that was weird. I think he had been egged on by Gene – ‘You’ve got to come see these guys.’ And Paul sat there with his little white Espadrilles on, legs crossed, jangling his gigantic ring of keys. Basically looking off into space, while Gene told us about the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock. ‘It’s just a business.’ He’s showing us all this stuff – his trophies. It’s like being in some sort of seminar for insurance or something.”
The band gave a memorable performance at Woodstock ’94, where Hoon took the stage wearing his girlfriend’s white dress for a 13-song set, starting with “2 x 4” and ending with “Soak the Sin.” Part-way through, the singer – said to be high on acid – threw the band’s conga drums into the crowd.
Founder member and lead guitarist Rogers Sevens graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law. He later became an employment lawyer in Philadelphia.