October 21, 1995. Blind Melon lead singer Shannon Hoon was found dead on the band’s tour bus before a show in New Orleans.
That was 25 years ago. Hoon was only 28, and Blind Melon was only two albums in to what was shaping up to be long run with Hoon fronting the band. His voice, songwriting, and stage presence were all otherworldly: on-par with contemporaries like Cobain and the like, but in a way that stood out from the rest of the ’90s alt-rock pack. Unfortunately, much like Cobain, his struggles with drugs and alcohol led to an early demise.
So here we are, 25 years later, left to wonder: would Shannon Hoon have been able to find balance enough to keep it together? Would we be talking about Blind Melon in the same conversations we have about Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins? It’s easy to dismiss Blind Melon as a one-hit wonder because of the huge success of “No Rain,” but the self-titled album and the follow up Soup were masterpieces of modern rock. I can see an alternate timeline where Blind Melon with Hoon leads an arc similar to 311: not the stratospheric commercial success of some of their ’90s peers, but a large enough following to continue to tour and put out music for as long as they’re able.
All we can do is wonder. And appreciate the unique talent of Shannon Hoon. And lament the lost potential.