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Articles: Lights Still Glow For Hoon (September 25, 2006)


 
 

Lights still glow for Hoon
By Joey Marburger
Publication Date: 09/25/06

The sky is gloomy at the Dayton, Ind., cemetery.
A faint mist is present letting the gatherers know a storm is coming. But they will stay. They will face the weather. Across a sea of candles, cards and pictures sits his grave. A grave of a young man whose words and music still affect people today, 11 years later.


(By Pattie Quackenbush)

Marika Cisari, a resident from Blevio, Italy, left, and Tonya Beall, a resident of Crown Point, Ind., talk about their mutual love for Blind Melon lead singer Shannon Hoon.


The sky is gloomy at the Dayton, Ind., cemetery.
A faint mist is present letting the gatherers know a storm is coming. But they will stay. They will face the weather. Across a sea of candles, cards and pictures sits his grave. A grave of a young man whose words and music still affect people today, 11 years later.
It is that of Shannon Hoon, lead singer of '90s rock band Blind Melon. His life ended in tragedy at the age of 28 from an accidental drug overdose on Oct. 21, 1995. But fans still gather today, more than a decade later, to celebrate his life, music and impact in a yearly vigil. Hundreds of fans came, but only one man was remembered.

Tonya Beall, of Crown Point, Ind., sits among the sea of vigil items sharing pictures and talking with fellow fans under the blue and white tent in the cemetery.
At the age of 35, she has been a Blind Melon fan for 15 years. She even named her son Shannon due to her love for the late musician.
"We're all keeping him alive in some way," she said sitting on a blanket near the headstone of Hoon. It is early evening as Beall continues to talk with fans. The thought of spending the night in a cemetery crosses her mind.
"I wouldn't go to a cemetery at night," she said. "This is the only place I would come. When I'm sitting next to Shannon I feel peace and no fear at all."
Fans continue to mill around the memorial of candles and posters. Rocks line a small shrub near the grave with notes written on them, "Thank you" and "Love, Tedder." There are about 80 fans present. Last year's vigil saw 400 people cycle through. This year saw about the same.

Beall said she has made friends from all over the world through the vigil. Mainly, she has met fellow fans at the vigil and continued to build their friendship over the Internet. One friend is Marika Cisari, from Blevio, Italy. She only speaks a little English but the connection of the vigil defies the language barrier. "I love Shannon so much. I can't explain (it)," she said.
This is her first vigil after arriving from Italy Friday. "I feel so happy. This is my dream come true," she said smiling and looking around at the mass of fans.

A cd of live recordings of Hoon play constantly until a few fans pick up their guitars and start to play a collection of Melon songs. Fans file into the tent and join in singing. As a song ends, Nel Hoon arrives, Shannon's mother.
It's about 5 p.m. Saturday. She hasn't spent as much time at the vigil yet because she is tired from the treatment she is receiving for cancer, which she was diagnosed with in June. Nel's mother, Vernie, 89, is with her. They are met with hugs and gifts. One fan presents a bouquet of orange roses to Nel. Another fan points to Vernie, "She's wearing Shannon's necklace." It is a silver, slightly tarnished necklace that Shannon wore in countless photos. It is her way to present her memories of her grandson.
The evening continues into the night. Torches would be lit making a pathway up to the tent. Some fans prepare their beds in the cars while some would stay well into the night before returning to their hotel. But for most, where they stay doesn't matter. All that matters is they are near Shannon. "It was such a loss losing Shannon," said Beall. "We do this for ourselves, for him and for Nel."
Fans stayed up all night celebrating the life and music of Shannon Hoon. And although fans will slowly start to leave Sunday evening, they will return year after year. Nel's cancer has caused her to worry about the future. She wonders who will carry on the vigil. But when the hundreds of fans surrounded her, she was reminded that her son's memory will live on.

 

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