Elegy for Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon: New Documentary Digs Deep

Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon is the subject of Danny Clinch's documentary All I Can Say. It's based on Hoon's own footage.

The story of Blind Melon and Shannon Hoon is the story of rock music in the '90s. The five band members hailed from various parts of the country (three were from Mississippi), met in Los Angeles in 1990 and formed Blind Melon (named for Tommy Chong's comedic character Blind Melon Jefferson). They had a No. 20 hit in 1992 with "No Rain" off their self-titled debut album, which went to No. 3. The song's video and the album cover were famous for featuring the so-called "bee girl." Blind Melon's 1995 follow-up Soup was a commercial disappointment, yielding no singles. It appeared that the band was destined to be a one-hit wonder.

Then Hoon died on October 21, 1995 at just 28, leaving behind a trove of video, his wife Lisa and newborn child Nico, the band and his family in Lafayette, IN.

It took Clinch, who knew Hoon and even played harmonica with the band on a few occasions, to piece it all together (he had help from Taryn Gould and Colleen Hennessey). The film has no narrartor. It's all either Hoon's video and audio or MTV and concert clips (their Woodstock '94 clip is a highlight).

Like Clinch, I knew Hoon. I interviewed him and the band at the High Times office in 1992 and hung out several other times with Hoon when he was in New York, which he loved. 

Author Steve Bloom backstage with Shannon Hoon after an August 1993 show at Jones Beach Amphitheatre in Wantagh, NY. Hoon fashioned the pipe out of a cantaloupe. Blind Melon opened for Neil Young and Soundgarden. (Photo by Danny Clinch)

Hoon's death was due to hard drug use, in his case a combo of cocaine, Valium and alcohol. He'd been in rehab and fell off the wagon numerous times. The guy I knew loved to smoke pot and take mushrooms.

Precursors to his death were Kurt Cobain's in 1994 and Jerry Garcia's in 1995, both of whom are acknowledged in the film and were addicted to heroin.

The '90s was the last decade when the music industry still dominated. Many new young bands like Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors, Collective Soul, Green Day, Sublime and Cypress Hill all had radio hits then. But the roller coaster ride for some may have been too much. Sublime's Brad Nowell and Blues Traveler's Bobby Sheehan also succumbed to drugs around that same time. 

So I'll say about All I Can Say that it's a work of art and inspiration by a terrific director (Clinch is also a leading concert photographer) about a talented but troubled singer (and friend of mine) who died way too young.

Watch All I Can Say

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.