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Articles: Sweet sendoff to Blind Melon (November 1996)

Sweet sendoff to Blind Melon

By Kieran Grant for the Toronto Sun -  November 14, 1996

 Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon gets to sing a closing number, thanks to his bandmates.

A year after the singer died of an accidental cocaine overdose, the remaining members of Blind Melon laid their band, and Hoon's career, to rest this week with the release of their final album, 'Nico'. The rough-around-the-edges disc compiles unreleased demos, outtakes and other scraps of recordings Hoon made with the band. It's named for the singer's daughter, who was just 13 weeks old when her father died in October 1995.

The band has also released a home video entitled 'Letters To A Porcupine'.
According to former Blind Melon guitarist Rogers Stevens, in town this week to promote 'Nico', the album finally frees the band of the feeling that Hoon's untimely death left them hanging.
"This, to us, was an opportunity to go back into the studio, get this record together, and complete the circle, not just for ourselves but hopefully for people who were into the band," says Stevens. "The band just stopped. But it felt like we had more to say, and if Shannon was still alive we'd still be making records."

Hoon's death showed just how temporary fame can be. Blind Melon topped the charts in 1993 with the hit 'No Rain', and sold three million copies of their debut album.

Hoon made headlines when he was arrested later that year for urinating on a crowd in Vancouver.

But his death after the release of the coolly-received follow-up album 'Soup' was greeted with some noticeable apathy by the music media. "Another drug death," says Stevens. "There was a pretty ho-hum, callous attitude. It made me want to do my best to make sure that this human being's life was appreciated."

Stevens feels that the cautionary side of Hoon's death is obvious and doesn't require preaching.
"People are best able to make their own decisions when they have all the information," he says. "That information is right there for all to see: Shannon was in rehab that summer, and was generally healthy and clean. His death was a total accident. When you're an addict, you can't turn your back on it at any time because it will sneak up on you."

Stevens says 'Nico' boasts some of Hoon's best work and should give fans a new perspective into his creative life. "We were definitely in a period of rapid development before he died," Stevens says. "Some of these songs are rough and unfinished, and sometimes it bums me out that I didn't get to work on them with him. But when I hear how charming they sound just the way they are, maybe it's a good thing we didn't go in and screw them up. They haven't been over-analyzed."

The posthumous circumstances also give 'Nico' a haunting quality. The song 'Life Ain't So Shitty' is a rough recording Hoon made on the tour bus, where he later died. The closing track, 'Letters From A Porcupine', was left by Hoon on guitarist Christopher Thorn's answering machine. The machine cuts him off mid-song and the album ends.

But Stevens doesn't feel 'Nico' has a prevailing note of doom. "Overall the album doesn't leave you with a negative feeling," says Stevens, who's regrouped Blind Melon under a yet-to-be-decided new name. "There's an uplift that I can't explain. A lot of the songs are pretty dark, but you see the good in this person. He had a tough life, but a real zest to live it."


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